It is amazing to see this 45-year-old DC10 freighter still operating for FedEx regularly:

FR24 screen grab

I know the lifespan of an aircraft is not rated by ages but flight cycles, but an actively used DC10 over 45 years must have exceeded the designed flight cycle right? However, I regularly come across 30+ or even 40+ years old aircraft on FR24 that are still in service, mostly freighter though. Wouldn't they raise any safety concerns? Besides, how could airlines operate them efficiently?

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    $\begingroup$ There are actually a few airlines flying DC-3's out there! Buffalo airways out of yellowknife jumps to mind $\endgroup$
    – Zachary K
    May 20 '19 at 7:41
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    $\begingroup$ The 3 has pretty much an indefinite fatigue life. They get driven out of service mostly by the other two of the Big Cs, Crashes and Corrosion. $\endgroup$
    – John K
    May 20 '19 at 13:42
  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to aviation.SE! This question is closely related and may be helpful. $\endgroup$
    – Pondlife
    Nov 16 '21 at 18:24

The DC-10’s have all been converted from DC-10’s to MD-10’s. The last conversion was in 2007, I believe. The entire aircraft wiring was replaced, the avionics package converted to glass cockpit and other structural work was also performed. As a result, the airframe was “zero houred” upon completion of the conversion.

Although they’re getting older, they’re still warhorses and their reliability is still good.

Also, cargo operators don’t put nearly as many cycles on their aircraft as passenger carriers. As a result, there is a lot less wear and tear on the aircraft.

  • $\begingroup$ Good to know that the DC10s are renewed. Thanks. $\endgroup$
    – Li Brandon
    May 20 '19 at 7:02
  • $\begingroup$ Not warhorses --> workhorses ! $\endgroup$ Nov 17 '21 at 18:46

The newest B-52 was built in 1962, so an aircraft's age is not really a factor, as long as it has been properly maintained and it doesn't develop major structural issues. (like cracks in critical structures, like the wing main spar, or one of the main fuse longerons.)


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