Lufthansa Cargo returns from desert the two remaining aircrafts
With D-ALCP and D-ALCO, the last two Lufthansa Cargo aircrafts have returned from Victorville. Fleet commander Fokko Doyen picked up personally the MD-11 which had been parked in the Californian desert in order, following a comprehensive check in Chinese Xiamen, to integrate it back into regular traffic again in November.
Due to the persisting difficult economic situation a little more than a year ago, D- ALCP was taken to Victorville in August 2009. There, in the Californian Mojawe desert, it is dry enough to park an aircraft which is no longer required - at least temporarily.
Since the economy has recovered in the meantime, Lufthansa Cargo has decided to put all its parked MD- 11s back into service once again. An operation which, however, is not possible from one day to the next. A few weeks ago, technicians from Lufthansa Technik Maintenance International (LTMI) already began preparations for the reactivation. As workshop pilots, Captain Fokko Doyen and Captain Manfred Schridde later arrived via Los Angeles. Beside a one-day ground test, in which all the systems were tried out according to a pre-determined procedure, the aircraft’s airworthiness was also tested. In the flight test, the aircraft took off again for the first time after a long break. During four and a half hours, on the basis of several approaches with automatic landings, balked landings, systems and alternative systems were thoroughly checked - to the delight of all concerned without significant problems.
From Victorville the aircraft then took off on September 3 bound for Xiamen in China, where an extensive C4 Check is next on the programme. In doing so, "Charlie Papa" flew over the Pacific, a route which, up to a few years ago, was a regular part of the Lufthansa Cargo flight plan, as Japan and Korea were previously served by flights via Fairbanks/Alaska. At 20.40 hrs. local time, after covering precisely 11690 kilometres, the approach was finally made to Xiamen, where the crew were warmly welcomed by a maintenance team from the locally-based TAECO. After exactly 14 hours and 51 minutes the jet engines of the MD 11 were finally shut down. A possible record-breaking block time, which was only possible because the aircraft was not carrying a load.
In the second last week, "Charlie Oscar" was reactivated and transferred from Victorville to Xiamen, too. Once having passed all checks, there will be again 18 MD-11 freighters flying for Lufthansa Cargo to network the world. And deserts will only be overflown.