McDONNELL DOUGLAS (MDC) has delivered the first of 11 MD-90 TrunkLiners to China Northern Airlines, marking the culmination of a four-year development effort.

The delivery followed the long-delayed signing of a purchase agreement in Beijing on 17 July which had been threatened by rising trade tensions between China and the USA. The agreement also covers delivery of a further nine MD-90s to China Eastern Airlines, plus the manufacture, in Shanghai, of 20 twinjets.

Under the original TrunkLiner deal, won by MDC in 1992, all 40 aircraft were to be built in China. This was later amended in 1994 to 20 to be built in Shanghai and 20 in Long Beach, California. Initially, half of the aircraft were to be MD-80s and half of them MD-90s, but the MD-80 option was dropped. China Northern is to receive three aircraft by the end of the year, while China Eastern will take the first of its MD-90s in late 1997.

Meanwhile, MDC has finalised details of an initial $30 million contract with the California-based Aircraft Systems division of Tracor Flight Systems to assemble and complete the wing for the MD-95. Wingsets will be shipped initially from MDC Canada to Tracor's new site in Palmdale, where they will be joined together and completed. The first 28.3m-span wing will be joined in February 1997 and transported to Long Beach for the start of major MD-95 assembly in April. Later, wings built by South Korea's Hyundai will gradually be used in the production process, according to MD-95 wing-product-centre general manager Pat McKenna. "The wings will be fully stuffed with systems when they arrive at Palmdale, although flight-control surfaces will not be attached. Tracor will join the wings, attach the underwing structure, "Y" barrel keel and forward and aft pressure bulkheads - all of which are being supplied by Hyundai companies."

The original plan called for Halla, of South Korea, to produce the wing and then lease a site near Long Beach to mate the shipset. When the work was transferred to Hyundai in February, the contractor requested that MDC "-take back" the wing-join work.

MDC has also completed the first MD-11 fuselage built from barrels produced in Long Beach. Until now fuselages have been made from sections produced at General Dynamics' Convair division in San Diego.

A stockpile of Convair-made barrels is gradually disappearing as MDC builds up its in-house line, and the transition will be completed by the end of the year. The first Long Beach-built fuselage is destined for Saudia.

nFederal Express has ordered a new MD-11F for delivery in November, bringing its total fleet of long-range tri-jets to 21 by the end of 1996.

Source: Flight International