COUple things, I've heard these rumors about the 744 for a few months, read the other posts to see about that, i think everything was pretty much covered.
FedEx used the 747-200 up until about 3 years ago, maybe 4 when it was finally retired. Those planes inherited from Tigers were notoriously bad on the maintenance and up keep. But we bulked them out easily.
Yes FedEx does heavy/bulky cargo like everyone esle., our primary focus however is the small packages. And on the average most planes bulk out befotre reaching max weight. SOme one mentioned that FedEx has plenty of wide bodies sitting in the desert waiting for conversion. This is true, but these are almost ALL DC-10-10's, They can't hold a lot of weight or fly all that far, Trans con with about 120,000 and thats about it. These aircraft are not designed for trans pacific or trans atlantic operations. SO, they would not fill the gap that a 747-400 would.
MD-11's typicly (if i recall) carry about 70,000lbs less than a 744. The 744 have a significantly increased range wuiyth higher payloads than a MD-11.
Oh, and from personal experience, I'd rather load/unload an 744 any day over an MD-11. That powered drives on the topside of a 744 are a blessed thing. Especially when, offloading a MD-11, its an uphill climb with a 8,000 pallet. As far as clearence with a main deck loader... don;t remember that much of a problem (compared to other aircraft.. the A310.. about 2 feet and you take out an engine).
Personally, I think FedEx is gonna need something bigger than the MD-11, and right now theres only a 747 and the possible A3XX... but then again, the rumor mill says we got 12 744's sitting out somewhere on the west coast getting the final touches... Just like they said FedEx was going to buy Atlas... I'll beleive it when i see a white and purple 744 pull up at my ramp.
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