FedEx preps plane for giant panda flight - WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

FedEx preps plane for giant panda flight

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MEMPHIS, TN -

(WMC-TV) - Crew members at FedEx are spending the day putting massive decals on the plane that will transport two giant pandas from China to Canada next week.

The transport is a major effort in diplomacy between the countries and FedEx is right in the middle of it.

The FedEx Panda Express will be moving the pandas from China to the Toronto Zoo. The precious cargo will consist of a 5-year-old panda named Er Shun and a 4-year-old panda named Da Mao.

A huge panda decal was placed on each side of the cargo plane. Each decal is made up of tiles specifically designed to withstand extremely hot and cold temperatures .

The decals are a stunning tribute to the multi-cultural partnership created between FedEx, China, and the Toronto Zoo.

"The kids at the airports when they land, it's like a play date for them," said Phillip Berry, FedEx structures engineering.

The reaction from the public makes all of the planning that goes into this special flight worth it.

Applying the giant decals is not an easy process. The crew members have to put the eyes on first and go from there. They only have one chance to make it perfect. Once the decals are on the plane, they cannot be removed without ruining them.

As the planning continues for the plane's transformation, we cannot forget that what is going inside the plane requires the most attention.

"Each panda will have an attendant. One from the Chinese zoo and another from the panda base. And the Toronto Zoo will also have a vet on board," said David Lang, managing director of aircraft charter operations.

Also making the 14 hour flight will be 200 kilos of bamboo, 100 kilos of bamboo shoots, 45 kilos of apples, plus plenty of fresh water to keep the pandas comfortable until they reach their new home.

This is the sixth flight the FedEx Panda Express will make. Here is a look at past flights:

  • China to Paris, France (2012)
  • China to Edinburgh, Scotland (2011)
  • Washington, D.C., and Atlanta, Georgia, to China (2010)
  • China to Memphis, Tennessee. (2003)
  • China to Washington, D.C. (2000)

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