Over 250 DC-8s remain in commercial service, of which 110 have been re-engined with CFMI CFM56 turbofans. Most DC-8s are being operated as freighters. The DC-8 programme was launched in 1955, and the type had its maiden flight in May 1958. Service entry occurred in September 1959.


Around 80% of the total number of DC-9s produced remain operational, mainly in North America. Consequently, many DC-9-30s and -40s have had ABS Partnership hushkits fitted to enable the type to meet Stage 3 noise regulations. ABS has also developed a kit for the DC-50, featuring a new, 18-lobe, mixer, which is due to be certificated by the first quarter of 1997.

Plans by an MDC/Air Canada joint venture to develop a so-called "DC-9X" upgrade, with new engines and avionics, were shelved following the Canadian carrier's decision to order Airbus A319s. MDC now seems unlikely to back such an upgrade following the launch of the MD-95.

The first DC-9 prototype was flown in February 1965, and the twinjet entered service with Delta Air Lines in December 1965.


Over 1,100 MD-80s are in service, but the firm-order backlog has been reduced to just a handful of aircraft. With the MD-90 now firmly embedded in airline service, and the MD-95 programme launched (see separate entries), MDC has not yet indicated its plans for the MD-80 family.

A major derivative of the DC-9, the MD-80 series began as the DC-9 Super 80, and the 155-seat one-class (135-seats two-class) basic version, dubbed the DC-9-81 (since renamed the MD-81), entered service with Swissair in September 1980. A similarly sized "hot-and-high" version, the MD-82, entered service in August 1981, followed by the extended-range MD-83, which was certificated in October 1985. The short-fuselage 130-seat (114 seats in two-class layout) MD-87 entered service in late 1987, but production has now ceased.

The latest version, dimensionally identical to the MD-81/82/83, is designated the MD-88. It features an upgraded cockpit, wider use of composite materials and a redesigned passenger cabin. Delta Air Lines put the MD-88 into service in January 1988.


The MD-90 is around 1.5m longer than the MD-81/82/83/88, and is powered by IAE V2500 engines. The aircraft also features an upgraded EFIS flightdeck, a redesigned passenger cabin and carbon brakes. The MD-90 had its maiden flight in August 1993, and entered service with Delta Air Lines in April 1995.

MDC revealed at this year's Farnborough air show that it is studying an all-new wing for the MD-90, designed to provide the type with transcontinental range and to allow it to compete more effectively against the Boeing 737-800. A longer-range MD-90-30 derivative has been proposed, the -50, which features a higher MTOW, increased fuel capacity, and more powerful engines. A higher-capacity version, the -55, has also been designed, which,although dimensionally identical, incorporates additional exits to increase exit limit. No orders have been announced for either model.

MDC has not yet indicated whether the MD-90 studies could be accelerated, following its decision to terminate development of the MD-XX TriJet.


The MD-95 was launched in October 1995, following an order from ValuJet Airlines for 50 aircraft. The initial MD-95-30 will seat 129 passengers in ValuJet's single-class layout, although in a more typical (two-class) configuration, seating capacity would be 106. First flight of the BMW R-R BR715-powered MD-95 is scheduled for the first quarter of 1998, with first delivery to ValuJet following in June 1999.


The initial short/medium-range DC-10-10 was first flown in August 1970, and entered service with American Airlines in August 1971. Longer-range derivatives, the GE CF6-powered -30 and P&W JT9D-powered -40, were introduced in November 1972, by Swissair and Northwest Airlines respectively. The -15, a "hot-and-high" derivative of the -10, was developed for the Mexican carriers Aeromexico and Mexicana, and entered service in June 1981. In 1978, the US Air Force selected the DC-10 for its tanker-transport requirements, and took delivery of 60 KC-10 Extenders, a derivative of the DC-10-30, from 1981.

During 1996, MDC launched the MD-10 programme following an agreement with FedEx, covering the conversion of around 60 DC-10s to two-crew cockpit configuration. United Airlines will sell 36 DC-10-10s to FedEx for conversion to MD-10s. The first phase will begin in early 1997 when the initial ex-United aircraft become available for passenger-to-freighter conversion. The freighter conversion involves installation of a 3.5 x 2.6m cargo door and structural strengthening to raise maximum take-off gross weight from the current 186t, to 203t.

Phase two of the programme begins in early 1998 with installation of the first Honeywell-based advanced common flightdeck (ACF) into a FedEx DC-10. The ACF closely resembles the MD-11 flightdeck, with six 200 x 200mm displays and a Category IIIb automatic-landing capability. The MD-10 flightdeck will be more advanced than that of the MD-11 in having liquid-crystal flat-panel displays derived from technology developed for the Boeing 777. The first ACF-configured aircraft is expected to be flown in the third quarter of 1998. Certification is expected by mid-1999.


A stretched, re-engined, derivative of the DC-10, the MD-11 had its first flight in January 1990, and Finnair introduced the type into revenue service in December the same year.

Although the programme gained a number of significant customers early on, in recent years sales have been slow. The 295-seater (three-class layout) initially failed to meet its original performance targets, forcing MDC to introduce aerodynamic and structural changes. The latest MD-11ER version exceeds the original specification, being able to carry its specification payload of 298 passengers over 13,340km.

MDC has developed a freighter version, which FedEx introduced in May 1991 and an after-market cargo conversion is offered. The freighter model received a major boost at the Farnborough air show in September, when Lufthansa ordered up to 12 aircraft for its cargo division. Combi and convertible passenger/ freighter versions have also been delivered.


The various studies for a follow-on growth derivative of the MD-11 crystallised during 1996 in the form of the 375-seat MD-XX. Before the new model had been formally launched, however, the MDC board took the decision to cancel the programme.

This new model, which would have featured a new (larger) wing, higher weights, more powerful engines and new undercarriage, was planned for introduction in late 2000. Two versions were proposed, including the stretched 13,300km-range, 375-seat MD-XX, and an extended-range version, the MD-XXLR, which would have been similar in size to the current MD-11, but offered 15,700km range.

MDC says that the decision not to proceed with the MD-XX was taken as part of a major rethink about the group's future in the civil business. It was also concerned about the level of investment required over the next ten years - estimated at $15 billion.

Source: Flight International