The fastest freighter in the world…
Projected freighter version for Federal Express. (Never carried through)
The planned Concorde freighter for FedEx was to be a modified production version series 200 Concorde airframe. Following these modifications, this airframe would have a higher gross weight, and include slightly extended main landing gear legs with some improved systems. It was going to use the Olympus 593 Mk 602 or 610 engines.
During the period of 1981-1982, a major feasibility study was carried out that looked into converting a Concorde passenger airframe into a freighter version for the American company Federal Express (FedEx). There were a number of design changes that would have to be embodied to accommodate the presence of freight inside the fuselage, as opposed to passengers. Systems such as the oxygen and air-conditioning would require attention. They would need to address the access to the emergency lowering mechanisms for the landing gear, as the existing services would be covered by freight (For more information regarding the Landing Gear emergency lowering mechanisms, CLICK HERE!).
The original plan centred round FedEx leasing three of the British Airways Concordes. Subsequently, it became very clear that FedEx was also seeking Air France involvement as well in order to secure French commitment to continuing support. FedEx had requested a ten-year commitment from the British and French, although this was adjusted to seven years in the case of the latter. Neither the British nor the French governments acceded to more than five years maximum. The start date for FedEx would have been September 1983, and the whole subject promoted enormous debate within the governments, manufactures and the airlines concerned.
The FedEx operation was all part of the review taking place by the British Government ministers as to whether Concorde should continue. In the original plan of the three aircraft coming from British Airways, various assumptions of the probable fatigue life showed that the lease of Concorde airframes 212 (Alpha Echo), 214 (Alpha Golf) and 216 (Alpha Foxtrot), which was the proposal, would result in the BA fleet being grounded before the FedEx fleet. This was of no consequence because the fatigue life assumptions were pessimistic, but in any case the whole affair never came to anything, and these airframes went on to make alot of money for British Airways until they were grounded in 2003.