FedEx is worried about its cargo planes being shot down by missiles and has taken the first steps toward equipping them with a special countermeasure system.
As noted in a letter published on the official Federal Register, the delivery giant is seeking permission from federal regulators to install a missile-defense system in its Airbus Model A321-200 airplanes, one that would utilize lasers to fool heat-seeking missiles. FedEx’s interest was prompted by several incidents over the past years in which civilian aircraft were targeted by portable air defense systems.
“On October 16, 2019, FedEx applied for a supplemental type certificate to install a laser-based missile-defense system, which directs infrared laser energy toward heatseeking missiles, on the Airbus Model A321-200 airplane,” a notice published at the Federal Register reads.
“This airplane, which is a derivative of the Airbus Model A321 series airplanes currently approved under Type Certificate No. A28NM, is a twin-engine, transport-category jet with allowable seating for 220 passengers, and a maximum takeoff weight of 89,000 pounds.”
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has responded to FedEx’s request with a handful of special conditions due to the potential dangers posed by infrared laser energy, which include eye and skin damage in humans. Infrared laser energy could also affect a flight crew’s ability to control the plane, other aircraft, and fuel trucks and airport equipment, according to the FAA.