Posts: 149
Joined: Wed Apr 21, 2004 1:37 pm

MD-11 Good For Cargo, Bad For Pax, Why?

Mon Jan 17, 2005 11:18 am

I've read previous posts mentioning this, but I still don't know exactly why the MD-11 is a favorite of the cargo operators, but pax operators couldn't get rid of them fast enough. Why?
707 722 732 733 734 735 73G 738 739 741 742 752 753 762 763 764 D9S D10 319 320 321 M80 M82 M83 M87 M88 M90 SF3 ERJ CRJ
Posts: 10836
Joined: Fri May 21, 2004 12:04 pm

RE: MD-11 Good For Cargo, Bad For Pax, Why?

Mon Jan 17, 2005 11:36 am

Very simply....very, very simply...I am certain others will elaborate further.

It came on the market just before large long range twins came out and enjoyed better operating efficiencies.

The cargo operators like them because of their excellent thrust to weight ratios which allow them to take off with serious loads. They were also available on the market relatively cheap for a while, although the values have lev Veelled off.
Is my Pan Am ticket to the moon still good?
Posts: 1143
Joined: Wed Apr 19, 2000 4:39 am

RE: MD-11 Good For Cargo, Bad For Pax, Why?

Mon Jan 17, 2005 11:54 am

Personally, I love flying on the MD-11, but that may have to do with
being involved with the plane from the design stage.
The MD-11F actually has more useable volume space than the B747F.
It turns out it is the ideal aircraft for small package carriers like FEDEX
and UPS, where volume is more critical than total mass weight.
Cargo doesn't whine, moan, or complain
User avatar
Posts: 21695
Joined: Wed May 24, 2000 12:12 pm

RE: MD-11 Good For Cargo, Bad For Pax, Why?

Mon Jan 17, 2005 12:53 pm

The MD-11 disappointed many carriers as it failed to deliver on promised fuel burn / range estimates.

MDC launched many performance improvement packages, however these basically brought the aircraft up to only baseline performance promises with little chance for growth via heavier or larger versions.
At the same time Airbus and Boeing were very busy pushing their new A340 and B777s which all offered future growth potential via sub versions.

The MD-11 managed to become quite popular amongst cargo airlines as the aircraft provides a unique weight/space combination that has been attractive to both package freighter airlines like Fedex and regular cargo airlines like Lufthansa.

The MD-11 while somewhat a quirky plane managed to fill needs of several airlines like Swissair and Finnair, however failed atvother like American Airlines. Overall I suspect the MD-11 was simply too little, too late. If the aircraft had been available maybe 5 years prior in the early/mid 80s, its faith might have been very different as could the faith of the A340 and B777 programs been. The weak financial picture of MDC lead the company to produce a very conservative aircraft at a very late stage.

From the desert to the sea, to all of Southern California
Posts: 6156
Joined: Mon Jun 05, 2000 12:50 am

RE: MD-11 Good For Cargo, Bad For Pax, Why?

Mon Jan 17, 2005 4:41 pm

Hmmm... I read that the aircraft INITIALLY didn't meet AA's expectations, but that Douglas fairly quickly got the nits worked out. Maybe I'm wrong.

Posts: 5135
Joined: Wed Mar 01, 2000 11:10 am

RE: MD-11 Good For Cargo, Bad For Pax, Why?

Mon Jan 17, 2005 5:45 pm

They got the 'nits' worked out, but it took a while. By that time, Delta had cancelled their remaining orders (at the cost of the 'cancellation' fines in the order contract) and American IIRC took no options and didn't take all of their firm orders, either. They ended up with only 19 MD-11s, while they had intended to replace all the DC-10-30s with the MD-11-30s.

Additionally, Bill, it's not good business to work out the kinks AFTER you fail to meet promises. If you agree to build me a car that seats six and gets 26 mpg, and then when it's actually built only gets 20 mpg, why should I owe you any money, or continued business? The MD-11 failed in range, and also in fuel burn. The AA flights to Tokyo quickly learned (in the matter of a week, I have heard) that the plane was nowhere NEAR capable of what it was "capable of doing." Sure, it's a nice thing to fix the problem later, but it does me no good if, in the meanwhile, I have a lemon of an airplane. A plane that can't fly form point A to point B without ditching in the Pacific isn't a very useful plane, is it?

The whole thing was a blunder. Too bad too- I love flying on them. Best flight I ever had was AA MIA-DFW in a M11.
Posts: 364
Joined: Mon Jun 25, 2001 5:29 am

RE: MD-11 Good For Cargo, Bad For Pax, Why?

Sat Jan 22, 2005 1:26 am

Just like laxintl mentioned, a conservative aircraft. I also enjoyed flying on the MD11. I think it's an aircraft made to curry people, unlike other aircraft that try to crump every one in like sardines. Very smooth flying and very good landings. The take off is excellent too. You really get to feel the power on take off.
Posts: 3371
Joined: Sun Mar 28, 2004 6:06 pm

RE: MD-11 Good For Cargo, Bad For Pax, Why?

Sat Jan 22, 2005 1:46 am

Just a correction to reply #2.

The MD-11 has a volume of 573.5 M3, while the 747-400F has 777.8M3. So, the MD-11 does not have a larger cargo volume than the 747.

Just wanted to clarify the figures.


Fly fast, live slow
Posts: 12885
Joined: Thu Jan 29, 2004 1:24 pm

RE: MD-11 Good For Cargo, Bad For Pax, Why?

Sat Jan 22, 2005 2:03 am

Perhaps there are other issues too. One is that center 3rd engine, it is difficult to service vs. wing mounted engines. There have been many posts hers about the difficulty of maintining that tail engine. There is also the extra costs of that 3rd engine vs. haveing only 2 on a 777. The demand for such aircraft has really been replaced by the 777, 767, and the trends in the last 15 years toward more frequency with of smaller a/c's in many international services.

Popular Searches On

Top Photos of Last:   24 Hours  •  48 Hours  •  7 Days  •  30 Days  •  180 Days  •  365 Days  •  All Time

Military Aircraft Every type from fighters to helicopters from air forces around the globe

Classic Airliners Props and jets from the good old days

Flight Decks Views from inside the cockpit

Aircraft Cabins Passenger cabin shots showing seat arrangements as well as cargo aircraft interior

Cargo Aircraft Pictures of great freighter aircraft

Government Aircraft Aircraft flying government officials

Helicopters Our large helicopter section. Both military and civil versions

Blimps / Airships Everything from the Goodyear blimp to the Zeppelin

Night Photos Beautiful shots taken while the sun is below the horizon

Accidents Accident, incident and crash related photos

Air to Air Photos taken by airborne photographers of airborne aircraft

Special Paint Schemes Aircraft painted in beautiful and original liveries

Airport Overviews Airport overviews from the air or ground

Tails and Winglets Tail and Winglet closeups with beautiful airline logos