FedEx welcomes first Boeing 777 Freighter

September 22, 2009

By Wayne Risher

FedEx and Boeing on Tuesday introduced FedEx's first 777 Freighter, a game-changing cargo carrier that is key to the express delivery company's global growth strategy.

FedEx officials said the plane, christened Saad (pronounced SAHD) after the son of a company auditor in New Jersey, should be making a 2,000-plus-mile flight from Washington state to Memphis shortly.

The 2091/2 -foot-long plane, with a wingspan of 212 feet, 7 inches, is destined to become a fixture in the skies over FedEx hubs; the company ordered 30 with an option to buy another 15. A new hangar was built off Winchester at Memphis International Airport to house the 777 and other aircraft.

It features longer range, better fuel economy and lower emissions than the McDonnell Douglas MD-11, a transcontinental freighter it is replacing. FedEx officials say it will carry the company's service to new heights, eliminating refueling stops and shaving one to three hours off transit times between Asia and North America.

FedEx officials traveled to Boeing's factory in Everett, Wash., to celebrate completion of the plane, which is scheduled to begin flying between continents in April after several months of flight checks and shorter routes.

Boeing said it is the ninth 777 Freighter delivery and the first to an American global freight carrier.

"The 777 Freighter will allow FedEx Express to operate point-to-point routes that save valuable flying time, coupled with outstanding fuel efficiency and environmental responsibility," said Kevin Schemm, a Boeing vice president.

"The 777F is a game-changer," added Michael L. Ducker, president, international, of FedEx Express. "Our customers around the world will benefit from more point-to-point routes and the shorter flight times, increasing their competitiveness in the global marketplace."

FedEx officials said shorter transit time means later pickup deadlines in markets served by the 777s.

"The Boeing 777 is an extraordinary testament to our dedication to fleet enhancement, allowing FedEx Express to provide unmatched services to our customers around the world," said David J. Bronczek, president and CEO of FedEx Express.

FedEx spokesman Jim McCluskey said, "It's a technological masterpiece, and it's going to elevate us competitively in the global market that we're in."

McCluskey said FedEx plans to have four 777s in service by April and 15 in the fleet by the end of fiscal 2014.

The 777 orders also have played a role in FedEx's battle against a proposed change in the labor law covering FedEx Express workers.

FedEx made the order for the second 15 planes and 15 options contingent on Express workers continuing to be covered under the Railway Labor Act.

The 777F's price tag has been estimated at about $225 million apiece.

A posting on FedEx's Citizenship Blog said the first 777 is named for the son of Kashif Zia, an input auditor who joined FedEx in 1998 at the Newark Airport. Zia said Saad means "good luck" and "lucky."

All 650 planes in the FedEx fleet are named for children of team members.

-- Wayne Risher: 529-2874

About the Boeing 777F

World's largest twin-engine cargo aircraft

Flight range equals about 6,675 land miles, or nearly three times approximate distance between the east and west coasts of the U.S.

Payload capacity 215,000 pounds, or 98 metric tons

Uses 18 percent less fuel than McDonnell Douglas MD-11

Engine technology reduces emissions 18 percent

Advanced noise-reduction technology meets airport noise standards and makes takeoffs and landings quieter


Copyright, The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, TN. Used with permission.