On Sat, 17 Sep 2011 00:49:54 -0400, JF Mezei
Post by JF Mezei Post by John Levine
FedEx and UPS run a lot of them. I gather FedEx not only bought up
lots of used MD-11s, but also bought DC-10s and turned them into
MD-10s, with the MD-11's two-man cockpit.
Why would FedEx or UPS find older less fuel efficient aircraft better
than buying new aircraft ?
When you are in the package freight business, what you want is
reliability, and efficiency. The figure of merit for freighter is how
many tonnes of airframe do you have to carry per tonne of freight.
That number turns out to be very attractive on both the MD11 and D10,
far better than the A300F or A330F. On the A380F, the figure was
terrible, and that's why they were all cancelled. The 747-8F has about
85% of the lift capacity of the A380F, but the OEW is about 40% lower,
and the engines on the 747-8F are generation later than the A380 power
plant. The market that the package freight guys had in mind for the
A380 is now occupied by the 777F, and for the bulk cargo haulers, the
Fuel burn is directly proportional to weight. So if you have to haul
an extra 20% in airframe weight, that eats directly into the fuel
burn, and can more than negate the benefit of a more fuel efficient
There is a more subtle advantage withe D10/MD11. In the package
freight business, these aircraft tend to run out of lift (weight) at
about the same time they run out of space to carry the freight. 747F's
tend to turn out of lift well before they run out space to put the
Post by JF Mezei
Is it just a question of acquisition costs being so low for such
unwanted passenger aircraft that it more than makes up for much higher
operating costs ?
But in such an equation wouldn't there come a time where the the
additional fuel/maintenance costs will surpass the savings from low
acquisition costs and if they keep it any longer, this solution ends up
having costed more than buying new aircraft ?
Wouldn't the same economics that pushed passenger airlines to replace
such aircraft with 777s/A330s also push cargo airlines to go for the 777 ?
The 777F is a pretty unusual freighter. It doesn't have an especially
attractive ratio of payload to deadweight, what it does have is a
reasonable payload with very long legs, which makes it a very
attractive aircraft for services that are very time sensitive (Package
Post by JF Mezei
Or do these aircraft have a low enough utilisation rate that the higher
operating/maintenance costs amount to much smaller amounts ?
The freight business has two kinds of players. The big boys like UPS,
Fedex, Cargolux,NCA, LH Cargo etc, and then you have the bit players.
For the big boys, they get such high utlization, that the operating
cost side of the equation more than makes up for the Capital cost. If
you have low utilization, then the Capital costs predominate, and
efficiency is a lot less of an issue. The are the guys who are flying
converted passenger aircraft 100 hours a month.
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