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MD-11 Retirements

Wed Aug 18, 1999 4:59 am

Some MD-11 operators such as AA, Swissair KLM are planning on retiring their fleets in the near future. Is there any particular reason for this as the MD-11s of these airlines are relatively new and it seems like they are being retired before their time.
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RE: MD-11 Retirements

Wed Aug 18, 1999 5:04 am

As far as I know Boeing will stop producing the MD11 at the end of this year or 2000. Something like's a shame really...such a beautifull machine.

RE: MD-11 Retirements

Wed Aug 18, 1999 5:16 am

The MD-11 was surpassed by the B-777 and A340 in terms of economics and efficiency. It is also considered as a very good Cargo airplane and the availibility of Cargo operators which want to buy the type like FedEx makes it a profitable exit from the type for passanger carriers....Cargo/Passenger operators like China Eastern, Korean Air, and Eva for example are converting their MD-11 for their Cargo subsidiaries and switching to more efficient A340 and B777 for passenger use.
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RE: MD-11 Retirements

Wed Aug 18, 1999 5:27 am

American was not happy with the performance of the MD-11 from the beginning. Most of their MD-11 fleet will be converted to freighters for FedEx. Swissair is trying to quickly retire their MD-11 fleet because of the SR111 crash. Passengers are kind of afraid of Swissair's MD-11s now. It is a shame. It had great possibilities.... Brian
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RE: MD-11 Retirements

Wed Aug 18, 1999 6:17 am

I think the main reason for the MD11's retirement was the lack of commonality. Boeing - and particularly Airbus - have a family of aircraft, where as the MD11, as fine an aircraft as it is, sticks out like a sore thumb. Delta and AAL, for example, will enjoy the commonality of the Boeing "philosophy" right the way up, particularly between the new 737s and the 777.
Yes it is sad and as for SR rejecting the M11, while it's true that SR111 didn't help, they had already ordered the A340-600 by then, so the fate of the aircraft was effectively sealed.
It will be interesting to see whether, after the MD11 goes out of production, Boeing looks at the possibility of a 777 freighter?

RE: MD-11 Retirements

Wed Aug 18, 1999 8:34 am

Not all airlines are retiring the MD-11 so fast. Finnair for example is very pleased with the MD-11. Right now about three-quarters of their fleet is McDonnell Douglas, for example DC-9-51's, MD-82/83/87, MD-11's. The reason Finnair gives for that is this:
"Buying a new car is easy. A new wife is somewhat more expensive. But when you switch to a whole new aircraft type, the investment costs are staggering. The personnel have to be retrained, your whole routine changes, and there's an enormous package of new information to be processed. The cost runs into the hundreds of millions."

Finnair also used to have DC-9-10/15/40's, as well as the DC-8 and DC-10. Rumor has it that Finnair is looking for a fifth MD-11, maybe they can get one from AA (being partners and all). If not that then KLM or Swissair. I certainly hate to see this wonderful (not to mention absolutely beautiful) machine be laid to rest so quickly... especially after SR111.

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RE: MD-11 Retirements

Wed Aug 18, 1999 10:04 am

Definitely a great plane, but with an unfortunate record. Makes you wonder how much of it was fate vs. the aircraft itself. I think this is one of the most striking aircraft at any airport. As I've posted before, a friend flies this type for KLM and loves it. He says it's true that pilots give it high marks for its flyability. He got terribly bored with 744s to Asia and made the change 2 years ago. If anyone has specific questions I'd be more than happy to pass them on.

RE: The MD-11

Wed Aug 18, 1999 4:45 pm

It is very sad to see such a beautiful aircraft have it's life ended so soon. The MD-11 is a sight for sore eyes at an airport. One of my favorite aircraft. (I have a lot  ) The MD-11 desrves a chance. It may be different than other McDD models, but it has proven itself as a great aircraft. Heck, the 757 looks nothing like other previous Boeing planes, yet it is a favorite among airlines, so why should the MD-11 be any different? I know it is less economical, but nothing's perfect.   Oh well, it will have a nice, new life as a cargo freighter.    

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RE: MD-11 Retirements

Wed Aug 18, 1999 8:14 pm

No one speaks of MD-11s vanishing from the skies.
FedeEx will, as natural with cargo planes, fly them for a long long time. And even then they will end up somewhere else afterwards. Don't worry, I bet you'll see MD-11s around still in 15 years ;-)
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RE: MD-11 Retirements

Thu Aug 19, 1999 1:12 am


Get the information right guys.

Swissair is not getting rid of the MD-11s because of the SR111 crash. In fact, over the past year, 4 more MD-11s have been added to the SR fleet which were acquired from LTU. That makes SR's MD-11 fleet 19 full passenger, the largest single MD-11 passenger fleet of any airline. In fact these LTU MD-11s were acquired to speed up the departure of SR's 5 747-300s which were considered too old and maintenance costly (though these are not so old either - 16 years max).

However, a deal has already been made to sell all the MD-11 fleet to FedEx. The aircraft will depart between 2002 and 2006, and will be replaced by additional A330-200s and the A340-600s.

And what, may I ask, makes an "unfortunate record" for a plane. How many B747s have crashed? Would you prefer to get on a 25 year old B747-100 for a transatlantic flight than on an 8 year old MD-11?

If you look over the history of the Swissair fleet, 10-15 years "lifetime" is typical so the MD-11s will fall into this range too.

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RE: MD-11 Retirements

Thu Aug 19, 1999 7:40 am

The same thing happened to the DC10. The AA191 and UA232 crashes both ruined the reputation of the DC10, though airlines have kept it still a lot longer after the crashes than the MD11 after its crashes.
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RE: MD-11 Retirements

Fri Aug 20, 1999 5:37 am

Well, workplace rumors are that Fred is buying every MD-11 he can get his hand on for FedEx. The last few off the Boeing line are coming to us (at a discount due to no one else wants them). These are easy to tell from the rest of the fleet, different engines and the underwind pods for the flap tracks are differently shaped. Again, rumor says that FedEx is getting the 19 from SwissAir, the ones from AA (some of which are in service) and the new ones from Boeing. And, before the Delta B777 pilot pay issues, we were going to buy those too.. but i'm not sure if thats changed with Deltas deferrals of 777's.

I know also that Lufthansa has bought/is buying a few for its cargo operations.

As a side note, the MD-11's are the one plane (IMHO) that looks really good in the new Delta colors.


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