Soon To Be Retired: Lufthansa’s Last MD-11F

  • Airlines

It is coming to the end of an era for the MD-11 freighter aircraft used by Lufthansa. Having served the German flag carrier’s fleet since 1998, the last of 19 aircraft is set to say its goodbyes by the end of the year as it is replaced by new Boeing 777 aircraft.

Lufthansa is preparing to say goodbye to its last MD-11F. Photo: Lufthansa Cargo

The MD-11F has been the backbone of the Lufthansa Cargo fleet for over two decades. However, all things must come to an end, and it is now the turn of the trijet, with just one remaining in Lufthansa’s fleet. This jet’s days are numbered, and the clock is counting down.

The last MD-11F

As mentioned, while Lufthansa has operated 19 different MD-11F aircraft, only one remains. This aircraft is D-ALCC. According to data from ch-aviation.com, the jet is 23.13 years old, having been delivered in August 1998. Since delivery, it has undoubtedly clocked some miles. As of July 31st, the plane had flown for 95,517 hours (10.9 years), completing 17,865 flight cycles.

While it is the end of this particular aircraft’s Lufthansa journey, it is not the end of the line altogether. The plane is due to start a new life with Florida-based cargo carrier Western Global Airlines. It won’t be lonely either. The airline already has a fleet of 15 MD-11Fs, with some even coming from Lufthansa.

A new era

While it is the end of an era for the noisy tri-jet, a new generation is dawning at Lufthansa Cargo. Since 2013, Lufthansa Cargo has been taking new Boeing 777F freighter aircraft to replace the MD-11s as they’re slowly phased out. So far, nine have been delivered, with two more expected by the airline.

The Boeing 777F is a more efficient aircraft for Lufthansa. This is true in terms of fuel usage, emissions, and noise generated. The far quieter 777F will end up saving Lufthansa a fair bit.

Frankfurt airport, the home of the freighter fleet, charges aircraft based on their noise footprint. As of 2015, the noise-related turnaround charge for an MD-11 was €1,140. By comparison, the Boeing 777F attracted a charge of €740.

Adding narrowbody capacity

Interestingly, the latest era of Lufthansa Cargo doesn’t stop with the Boeing 777F. Earlier this year, the airline revealed that it would be converting two of its older Airbus A321 aircraft into fully-fledged freighters. Unlike the airline’s makeshift preighters, these will undergo complete conversion.

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Lufthansa Cityline will operate the Airbus A321 freighters. The intention is that they can be used on intra-European flights, carrying cargo in the belly and on the main deck. The two aircraft will be based in Frankfurt and are expected to come online in early 2022. They will be able to transport 28 tons over a distance of 3,500 km.

Will you miss Lufthansa’s MD-11Fs? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!