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FedEx Express Establishes Default Temperature Settings on the B777F

April 19, 2012

Most pharmaceuticals need to be stored and transported in one of two temperature ranges: Controlled Room Temperature (15-25°C) or Cold / Refrigerated (2-8°C). Typically the sophistication of the molecules used in the drug and/or stability of it drives the need for tighter temperature control (i.e., more refrigeration).

Other healthcare products such as blood, tissues, cell lines and blood-based products (e.g., customized medicines / biotech drugs) often require a Frozen (-20 down to -80°C) or even Deep Frozen / Cryogenic (-150°C or below) range in order to keep any cellular degradation of the samples/specimens from occurring during transit.
When customers ship in those Cold, Frozen or Deep Frozen ranges, however, they use active or passive cooling systems contained within specialized containers or packaging in order to maintain those temperatures (such as dry ice/gel packs in parcel shipments). They do extensive testing in their quality departments to validate and approve these methods, but one area that they often have trouble with is air transport and particularly how temperatures can fluctuate inside of an aircraft. Most of their packaging is validated for a specific external/environmental range and if the temperature dips below that it can cause a Cold shipment to drop below the desired minimum temperature of 2°C and freeze, for example, which can often render the product unusable and it has to be destroyed.
The largest segment of pharmaceutical product from a temperature standpoint is in the CRT range, and particularly drugs moving in bulk. For these shipments, especially generics, the manufacturers or distributors are often more price conscious and do not want to incur the added cost of using expensive temp-control packing materials or specialized containers. Instead they opt to ship on days where the temperature is mild at origin and destination and hope that they won’t get any temperature excursions in transit. And, even then, the stability of these products is typically good so they can have allowable excursions of a certain duration down to 5°C and up to 30°C without the product being damaged or unusable.

Customers are counting on stable and predictable environmental temperatures, otherwise their packaging might not hold up and shipments can freeze or overheat.
In response to this, FedEx Express has implemented procedures to maintain temperatures on board its new B777 aircraft remain within the CRT range during flights. Extensive research studies were conducted by FedEx to determine the appropriate default temperature settings, so now cold chain shippers can plan accordingly with a great degree of confidence regarding what the temperature ranges will be in flight.



Richard Smith

Vice President of Global Trade Services

As Vice President of Global Trade Services, Richard W. Smith leads all U.S. based international operations for FedEx Express, the largest FedEx operating company, based in Memphis, Tennessee. He is responsible for ensuring global regulatory compliance, providing customers with regulatory assistance, measuring and improving global clearance performance, providing planning and engineering support, developing and implementing U.S. International line haul solutions, maximizing U.S. export freight profitability and designing and executing specialized services for the life sciences industry and other target verticals.

View all Richard Smith’s blog posts


    Steve Reynolds says:

    I’m always impressed with the ingenious technology we apply to our business, Richard. These planes have come a long way since I loaded them in the hub! Awesome!

    William Hutton says:

    This is an excellent illustration for our Healthcare Customers who are shipping CRT. It provides validation that the aircraft temperature is able to be monitored, and in conjunction with temperature controlled ground linehaul and monitoring (SenseAware) customers can often eliminate the costly overwrap and active temperature controlled mediums.

    kamran ghaemmaghami says:

    In addition to the fact that this is unbelievably a fantastic move.
    Many may not know that this has another added benefit, which should be implemented on all FedEx flights.
    Unlike when you lower the temperature in your car or house (use of AC system) which increase the cost of fuel and electricity.
    This works opposite on airplanes in flight. Heating up the cabin on airplanes will increase fuel consumption while cooling it will reduce it.
    This move will result in an added benefit to FedEx; it will reduce our fuel/operating cost and further helps the environment.
    Go FedEx! Let’s implement it on all flights.

    Cedric Brooks says:

    We are well on our way to setting the industry standard in healthcare and biotechnology.

    Jorge Gomez says:

    This is what customers had been requesting. Did some one has information on what routes are we using 777 / 777F.

    Danny De Jesus says:

    One of our Global Healthcare customers informed that the FDA will be enforcing strict compliance to temperature parameters for customized medicines and biotech drugs.

    Maintaining product temperatures paramerters,real time data visibility through the whole supply chain is critical to our Healthcare customers to meet FDA regulations , protect brand name and above all save people lives.

    The 777 default temperature setting is a great step ahead on supporting our Healthcare customers need for FDA compliance and to deliver reliable and effective products that improve patient’s health.

    Samrat says:

    Now we totally fit into the cold chain…makes us happy in India!

    Imran Parmar says:

    Excellent technology is used in B777,Customer shipping pharmaceuticals & any temperature sensitive cargo will be rest assured by FedEx service.

    This will increase opportunities to grow business.TOO GOOD

    Imran Parmar says:

    Excellent news,

    Now FedEx customer shipping Pharma/Temperature sensitive cargo will be rest assured & more Happy by FedEx Service offered.

    This is really a quality service for FedEx customers. Congrats…..

    RUDY says:


    lee moore says:

    What routes are available for this service,v are there international routes, and what are the cost in relation to current air freight costs?

    FedEx says:

    All B777F flights have defined reproducible conditions unless exceptions (such as live animals such as penguins on board).
    There is no additional cost for customers.

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