Trolling the Flight Archive today, I came across a truly eye-opening gem of a quote from a June 24, 1989 article on McDonnell Douglas’ selection of a final assembly site for the MD-90. In the article, then program manager Walt Orlowski discussed the company’s decision to not offer the “technically ready” General Electric GE36 unducted fan for the re-engined jetliner, which was available for a $1 million price premium. He described the company’s thinking this way:
Douglas concedes that, with fuel prices unlikely to rise substantially in the near future, there is “inadequate motivation” for airlines to gamble on unducted-fan technology in return for improved fuel efficiency.
Hard to tell what might have played out for McDonnell Douglas if its thinking had not been as short-term, especially in light of the fuel crisis that hit only decade earlier.