A few weeks ago, Lufthansa Cargo ‘retired’ one of their MD-11 Freighters as they begin introducing brand new Boeing 777Fs to replace them. As part of the process of retiring ‘D-ALCO’, she was flown to Lufthansa Technik Component Services (LTCS) in Tulsa, Oklahoma where she will be disassembled. Critical components will be removed, refurbished and certified for future use in other MD-11s in the Cargo Fleet while the rest of the aircraft will be dismantled and recycled as appropriate.
When I was in Tulsa last week visiting LTCS to see the arrival of D-ABIB, a 737 also entering retirement, I had the chance to get one final look at D-ALCO. Seeing D-ALCO being prepared to be disassembled was genuinely a sad moment for me because this was not the first time that I had crossed paths with her.
On one of my many trips to Frankfurt over the past years, I had a chance to visit LH Cargo and had an opportunity to board D-ALCO while she was being prepared for a flight to India. If you’d like to read that piece and see D-ALCO when she was in active duty, you can find my post here.
D-ALCO was Lufthansa Cargo’s oldest MD-11. She was completed in January 1992 and entered service as PP-SOW with now-defunct VASP (Viação Aérea São Paulo). In December 2000 she was sold to Varig (PP-VQL). In 2004 she was handed back to Wells Fargo Bank Northwest who acted as trustee/leasing agent for the aircraft. In December 2005 she joined the LH Cargo fleet.
As luck would have it, I was there to see her be parked on the LTCS ramp and was able to capture the moment:
With all of this said, here are what may be the last pictures taken of D-ALCO before tear down begins. In some of these photos you’ll see final farewells that were written on D-ALCO by her pilots, mechanics and cargo ground crew: