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End of an Era as FedEx Express Retires Last B727

June 21, 2013


For 35 years, Boeing 727 aircraft were a reliable workhorse for the world’s largest express transportation company.  Today, the venerable 727 narrow-body freighter closes an enduring chapter in aviation history as FedEx becomes the last major carrier to retire the aircraft from service.  The retirement is part of the company’s aircraft modernization strategy.  

History of the 727 at FedEx        
Introduction of this larger, mid-size jet freighter to the FedEx fleet was made possible by deregulation of the airline industry in 1977, giving the upstart express carrier access to more domestic markets and bringing immediate operational efficiencies because of greater payload capabilities.  FedEx operated only small Dassault Falcons before the industry was deregulated.  

Modernization of the FedEx Fleet
This fall, FedEx begins taking delivery of new Boeing 767 aircraft to replace its aging MD-10 freighters. As with the other aircraft types being introduced, the 767s will provide significantly improved reliability and are substantially more fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly than the aircraft they will replace. FedEx is committed to reducing its aircraft carbon emissions 30 percent by the year 2020 under its fleet modernization program.  It expects to source at least 30 percent of its jet fuel from alternative fuels by the year 2030.

Continuation of Service       
Not only are FedEx 727s being retired, but nearly half of the fleet has been donated coast-to-coast to aviation schools, colleges and local communities in the last several years. FedEx aircraft donations support school curriculums that are developing the next generation of aviation professionals. The donated aircraft are also being used for training by emergency response teams at local airports and fire departments.
For FedEx pilots like Capt. Chip Groner, who piloted a 727 for about 10 years, closing the door on 727 operations is a turning point not only for FedEx but for the aviation industry.  

“The 727 was a mainstay aircraft and one of the most dependable we ever had in our fleet. More importantly, it was the plane that really put FedEx on the map as an overnight express carrier,” the 35-year FedEx crew member said.  “It’s the end of an era, but it’s only natural because of changing technology that improves the fuel and operational efficiencies of today’s new aircraft.  The 727, for many pilots, will always be the airplane that really brought the airline industry into the jet age.”

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