FlightAware Discussions

What ever happened to the Fedex Falcon Jets . . .

Federal Express was originally founded by Fred Smith in Little Rock in 1971.
Smith had written a term paper in college with the concept of an overnight canceled transportation check system linking the Federal Reserve regional offices (hence the name). When Smith failed to win the contract he was forced to improvise. With aircraft already acquired, the new and improved delivery company started flying on April 17, 1973 from Memphis with cargo operations to 25 cities with 14 converted Falcon 20DC’s freighters.
(Bruce Drum)

By their 3rd year, Federal Express operated a fleet of 34 Falcon 20’s, and even bought the company with the STC to build the cargo door, to cut off other competitors.

N1FE . . . 084 . . . on display Fedex Memphis as N9FE
N2FE . . . 132 . . . G-FFRA - military contracts UK - active
N3FE . . . 151 . . . G-FRAL - military contracts UK - active
N4FE . . . 108 . . . Kalitta - stored/withdrawn from use KOSC
N5FE . . . 020 . . . G-FRAJ - military contracts UK - active
N6FE . . . 050 . . . N699TW Ameristar damaged Detroit last flew 2001
N7FE . . . 046 . . . EC-EHC withdrawn Madrid last flew 2007
N8FE . . . 199 . . . on display Smithsonian, Washington DC
N9FE . . . 216 . . . ‘5840’ Venezuelan Military - active
N9FE . . . 084 . . . see N1FE above.
N10FE . . 016 . . . N216SA written off in landing accident 1999 Boise ID
N13FE . . 024 . . . N240CK Kalitta - active
N14FE . . 227 . . . N227CK Kalitta - active
N15FE . . 229 . . . N229CK Kalitta - active
N16FE . . 230 . . . N230RA Kalitta - stored/withdrawn KOSC
N17FE . . 232 . . . N232RA over run accident destroyed Bingham 1989
N18FE . . 233 . . . N817AA scrapped Dodson Intl Parts 2006
N20FE . . 235 . . . ‘0442’ Venezuelan Military - active
N21FE . . 226 . . . N226R Kalitta - active
N22FE . . 223 . . . G-FRAH - military contracts UK - active
N23FE . . 224 . . . 9M-FRA - military contracts Malaysia - active
N24FE . . 220 . . . N220CA for sale as parts, Optiskyllc.com
N25FE . . 221 . . . N221TW Ameristar - active
N26FE . . 204 . . . N204TW Ameristar - active
N27FE . . 207 . . . G-FRAP - military contracts UK - active
N28FE . . 209 . . . G-FRAR - military contracts UK - active
N29FE . . 210 . . . EC-ECB DHL Spain, landing accident Las Palmas 1987
N30FE . . 211 . . . N120RA Royal Air Freight - active
N31FE . . 212 . . . N212R Kalitta stored/withdrawn from use KOSC
N32FE . . 213 . . . G-FRAK - military contracts UK - active
N33FE . . 214 . . . G-FRAO - military contracts UK - active
N34FE . . 215 . . . N510BM scrapped 2006
N35FE . . 217 . . . ‘17103’ Portugesse Air Force Stored
N36FE . . 218 . . . N218CA scrapped 2006
N37FE . . 270 . . . G-FRAI - military contracts UK - active
N332FE . 225 . . . scrapped used to rebuild c/n 162 N911DG

(N332FE used as a corporate aircraft)

N9FE on display Fedex HQ Memphis (airliners.net photo)

N9FE (ex N1FE) on display at the Smithsonian
(flickr photo)

Interesting! I’ve personally seen several, the one in the Smithsonian plus several of the Kalitta operated aircraft.

I don’t want to speak too soon, but I may have fueled 120RA a couple months ago. It was an old raggedy Falcon 20, pressure fuel was inop (which wasn’t a big deal until it’s 15F outside and I didn’t have gloves on!), had the framework in the engine intake like pic #3, and flew under “Air Royal 270”. I’ll have to check the records…

But, I’m looking photos about 120RA on Airlines, and it is a Learjet not a Falcon, if I’m not wrong …

photo by Radomir Zaric
N120RA Learjet 24-153 was in service with Royal Air Freight since 1993 but has since been withdrawn from use.

FAA Registry showing N120RA is currently a Dassault Falcon 20D (DC) 211 also operated by Royal Air Freight.

:open_mouth: You’re good, Rob… :slight_smile:

Thank you rob! And yes! I was wrong … hehe

Actually you were correct, you saw a photo of the Lear 24 with the N number N120RA.

In this case, the owners had the Lear canceled from the US registry but paid to retain the N number.

Had they not retained the number, it would have been available to anyone who wanted it.


Hi all;

To the best of my knowledge all of the UK reg ex-Fedex Falcons listed are still in service although some are or must be getting very close to being lifex. S/No 020 was used by Fedex /Little Rock Airmotive as a test bed for many trial mods when Fedex were still sorting out the actual performance requirements and the basic Avionics fit. All of the aircraft Avionics wiring was installed by Little Rock and bore no resemblance to the original Dassault fit.

I joined the UK company operating these aircraft in 1990 just after they purchased them from AMARC. They were re-registered with N900 series numbers suffixed by FR.

A major mod programme was set up (Dassault Mod M1800) to bring them onto the UK Register where they joined an existing small fleet of ‘conventional’ F20’s.

In 1992/3, whilst the UK mod programme was ongoing, 5 more almost conventional F20’s were purchased from the RCAF as CC-117’s. These too were brought onto the UK reg as G-FRAS, G-FRAT, G-FRAU, G-FRAV and G-FRAW. At the height of ownership the company operated 21 F20’s of varying types. Many have been sold on and /or re-registered.

From 2000 on the then existing fleet was subject to another major mod programme when all of the original avionics packages were removed and a Collins Proline 4 Glass cockpit installed. As each aircraft was so modified it went through our paint shop and emerged with the now familiar all over dark blue with a white cheat line.

All retained the original GE-CF700- 2D2 engines. I believe the thought was that the engine upgrade wasn’t cost effective for our operation.

During this second round of major modifications all of the original avionics wiring was removed and this threw up some interesting historical points particularly on S/No 020. We found evidence of the original trial mods by Fedex including for example Self Weighing Equipment. Obviously weight formed an important factor in Fedex Ops. As original equipment Fedex aircraft also carried UHF radios for operations into USAF bases and TACAN Nav equipment along with an IFF transponder instead of the more normal ATC transponder.

Since a lot of the trial mods never made it into production aircraft the Fedex wiring manuals were a little short on information relating to these non-accepted mods and as an avionics team leader I frequently had to don my Sherlock Holmes hat to establish just what they were if only to make an educated guess at where the wiring originated and terminated…

In their current role they are used for Target Towing and Electronic Warfare in support of the RN and RAF. There are currently lots of photographs of the fleet on airliners.net where they can be seen strutting their stuff with a variety of underwing stores.

So…Just a bit more gen for anyone who may be interested in ‘What Happened to the Fedex Falcons.’


Very interesting. Here is an aviation group that keep track of you Falcon’s arrivals and departures - their records go back to the 60’s at their local airport.

dtvmovements.co.uk/2010Month … /Mar30.htm

Rob; thanks for the link.

Since retiring from the rat-race I have, sadly though intentionally, been out of touch with former colleagues both at Bournemouth and Teeside.

I do occasionally get woken up abruptly by low flying B200’s when they come over to do runway and facility calibrations at LEGR. High powered turboprops are something of a rarity in this neck of the woods.

Just as a matter of interest and I apologise for going slightly off topic, LEGR will as from June be going back to it’s pre-2005 sleepy hollow days. Our last remaining lo-co operator has decided to pull the plug on it’s Granada-UK operations, leaving us with no direct flights to UK airports. LEGR will go back to being a GA and Spanish regional airport. Ah well; such is progress!


Rob…Regarding Falcon 20 Airframe number 270…This aircraft was one of the batch purchased by FR Aviation and operated originally in the UK as N901FR and then as G-FRAI on the UK reg.

Does you or has anyone have any information relating to a registration as a FedEx aircraft? I have trawled the net far and wide but cannot find any history prior to it’s N901FR reg, but it is definitely ex FedEx…



Hmmm, why is it I thought FedEx had 33 Falcon’s??, N37FE makes it 34!!

c/n 270 F-WPUZ/N4435F/N37FE/N901FR/G-FRAI

Edited the list above to add N37FE!!

Having a problem posting a reply!

Put it in the reply box, hit preview and all is OK but when I go to Submit I get a debug error message…

Any suggestions, please?


Tries again…!


Still doesnt want to know!


Doing it the hard way…

I’m curious about S/No 216 and how it ties in with the N1FE and N9FE swap. N1FE was S/N 84 and the fleet numbers from N1FE to N13FE are all early build airframes so presumably N9FE must originally have been in this block, assuming the registration N9FE was available at the time.

Swapping N1FE and N9FE would release the N1FE reg and the next time it appears its on a Learjet 45.

Back in Nov 1974 N9FE suffered flap damage following an incident at Buffalo NY when one of the MLG tyres threw a tread. I wonder if this is what led ultimately to the swap; certainly the timing is about right. (I know from experience that F20s do not respond well to flap damage but that’s another story for another day!)

Thewre is a picture purporting to be N9FE on a.net where the aircraft is on fuselage stands at Marana-Pina Airpark and looking very sorry for itself. I say purports to be N9FE because the original tail number is not present and has been applied using what looks to be ‘black bodge tape’ and the aircraft still carries the name Karen which was N1FE.

Actually the problem (?) only gets deeper; assuming that all of the cargo F20s were modified by FedEx / Little Rock Airmotive solely for FedEx, one is left with the question What were the original Fedex Fleet numbers for airframes S/Ns 46, 81,98,128 and 192.

Secondly what happened to Fedex Registrations N11FE, N12FE, and N19FE?

Since we appear to have no fleet numbers for 5 airframes and no serial numbers for 3 airframes it follows that there must have been even more than the 33 / 34 originally listed!

Now, I realise this is only a problem because I’m seeing it that way, but once I get my Sherlock Holmes hat on I like to see things through!

BTW Ive found a picture of N37FE purely by fluke, courtesy of the Fedex History page I give you…

Any thoughts…


There was no N11FE/N12FE/N19FE - I’ll assume the registrations were not available.

FedEx used to be based in Little Rock, Fred Smith purchased an ailing modification and maintenance company and renamed it Little Rock Airmotive. They chopped a 75.6 x 67 inch door into 35 Falcon 20’s.

34 ended up with FedEx, and one c/n 208 went to Switzerland as HB-VCA. I can’t recall, but they may have done a couple more.

The 5 Falcon’s you mentioned, 46,81,98,128,192.

Little Rock Airmotive did ‘46’ as N7FE. 81,98,128,192 were most likely done elsewhere. Both Amerijet and Avtec did the rest of the conversions.

FedEx moved to Memphis and sold Little Rock Airmotive to Dassault - who have used it since 1975 until today as their Falcon Jet completion center.

As for the N1FE/N9FE - that one is a mystery to me also.

Also I wonder how N37FE got added, being c/n 270 it was not part of the first 33 Falcon’s that were converted - so they obviously ordered it later - just wondering if it replaced an accident aircraft??

I recall a FedEx Falcon taking off from Warwick RI in heavy fog, and attempted to depart from a taxiway - striking two airliners!! Nobody was killed, and all aircraft were repaired - but I don’t know which Falcon it was.

I’ll look into the N1FE/N9FE mystery.

Rob thanks!

Heres a couple of snippets of totally useless Fedex trivia…

The electro/pneumo/hydraulic jack used on the Cargo Falcon door has a Boeing part number that is interchangeable with that of A B-52 bomb bay door jack…given the number of scrapped B-52 in the boneyard at AMARG, Cargo Door Falcon operators should be well catered for in this department for many years to come!

On a standard Falcon only the captain has a sliding DV window; on the Cargo version both the flight crew have opening windows because it was felt that in the event of an emergency evacuation the main door may not open quickly enough (if at all) and the two emergency overwing exits were sealed off by the lining material used in the cabin…FRA aircraft have had the cabin liners removed and thereby regained the use of the overwing exits, thereby negating the need for the copilot’s emergency exit. Standard fixed Falcon cockpit windows are being fitted in their place.


Plaque at the Smithsonian (lists 33 Falcons)

Also Little Rock Airmotive was called Ark Avaition Sales when Mr. Smith purchased it in 1971 - renaming it Little Rock Airmotive.

“Curiouser and Curiouser,” said Alice…

“How do you lose an airframe,” said pp engaging Alice in an equally meaningless conversation…

Just a very minor point Rob; in your listing you quote N33FE as being changed to G-FRAD…it should read G-FRAO.

G-FRAD is s/no 304 and is non-cargo…