Lufthansa Cargo MD-11Fs find new homes

The majority of Lufthansa Cargo’s retired MD-11Fs have been picked up by other operators. (Photo/ Lufthansa Cargo)

[Update Jan. 30: UPS confirmed to Cargo Facts that it has purchased the two MD-11Fs and will be bringing them into service following modification work to make them common with the rest of the fleet.]

A pair of Lufthansa Cargo’s recently retired MD-11Fs appears to have found new life with a different operator. Unit 48805, which was parked in Victorville (VCV) in October 2019, was ferried to San Antonio (SAT) on Jan. 24, while its sibling (48806), sent to VCV in November, was also brought to SAT on Jan. 25.

The two MD-11Fs are currently still registered as belonging to Boeing, which bought them from Lufthansa. However, the ferry flight from VCV to SAT for at least one of the aircraft was filed using a UPS flight number. Even though both aircraft eventually ended up not operating under a UPS flight number, it remains a clue as to their fate.

Units 48805 and 48806 are presumably undergoing maintenance and modifications at the VT San Antonio Aerospace facility in SAT. The company is an affiliate of ST Aerospace and is also where UPS has been sending its newly delivered production 767-300Fs.

Both UPS and Lufthansa Cargo declined to confirm any specifics, with UPS only commenting that it discusses its lift needs “with vendors throughout the industry on a regular basis, including both new and used aircraft,” and the German carrier reaffirming that all its remaining MD-11Fs will be withdrawn from the fleet by the end of 2020. But we should be seeing the two MD-11Fs returning to the skies.

This wouldn’t be the first time that Lufthansa’s MD-11Fs have found new homes. In fact, of the nine other MD-11Fs removed from the Lufthansa Cargo fleet, four (48799, 48804, 48581 and 48630) were acquired by Western Global Airlines, while one (48785) was picked up by FedEx and another (48798) was acquired by Boeing, but has a registration consistent with other FedEx MD-11s. The other three MD-11Fs are units 48413 and 48414, which were scrapped at the Lufthansa Technik facility in Tulsa (TUL); and unit 48431, which was involved in a crash in Riyadh (RUH) in 2010.

Meanwhile, Lufthansa Cargo, which decided in November 2019 to bring forward the retirement of its MD-11Fs and ordered two more 777Fs, has eight of the type left. One aircraft (48802) has not left Frankfurt (FRA) since Dec. 26, 2019, while another (48803) has been in Singapore (SIN) since Jan. 7.

The carrier signed a five-year maintenance agreement with ST Aerospace covering its MD-11F fleet in 2018.

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