In July, 1991, Cargo Facts reported that FedEx and Airbus had come to a deal whereby the express giant would purchase 25 A300-600 freighters with deliveries beginning in 1994. An artist’s rendering of the proposed freighter graced our cover that month.
Airbus had previously built convertible versions of the A300 and a the short-lived earlier A300F4-203 freighter, but the A300-600 became the first popular new-build wide-body freighter from Airbus on the heels of the FedEx order. A300 production had been going strong for a long time before these freighters materialized, and the line did not slow down for over another decade – though passenger orders began to trail off in favor of the newer A330.
The A300, reliable and capacious, also proved very popular as a converted freighter.
This photo graced our January, 1994 cover. The plane had first flown in December, 1993. Ultimately, FedEx would operate 71 A300s, a mixture of 31 conversions and 42 new-builds.
After this aircraft was delivered, our May, 1994 issue again featured the A300-600 on the cover (for the third time) detailed some of the specs. The new freighter could accommodate 43 of FedEx’s own AYY containers, the equivalent of 21.5 normal “A” containers on the main deck and 22 LD3’s (or several capacious pallets) below. MTOW was rated at 375,900 lbs. A 112,000 lb. payload would mean a range of 2,685 nm.
We also reported at the time that FedEx was increasing its interest in another Airbus wide-body product, the A310. In January of 1994 the Memphis giant was negotiating with Delta Air Lines to purchase a few ex-Pan-Am A310s, which were then converted to freighters in Dresden. FedEx ultimately operated 70 A310s, but has since reduced its active A310 fleet to under 50. The A310 additions allowed FedEx to reduce its dependence on the aging 727-100 and eventually phase out that type.
In September of 1994, another Airbus wearing FedEx livery graced the cover – this time an A310 in the then-new (and current today) FedEx livery.