Jump to content

Douglas DC-8

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

DC-8-72 over the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California in 1998. This aircraft, operated by NASA, was re-engined with CFM56s.
Role Narrow-body airliner
National origin United States
Manufacturer Douglas Aircraft Company (1958–1967)
McDonnell Douglas (1967–1972)
First flight May 30, 1958
Introduction September 18, 1959, with Delta Air Lines and United Airlines
Status In limited service as non-passenger aircraft
Primary users United Airlines (historical)
UPS Airlines (historical)
Delta Air Lines (historical)
Trans Air Cargo Service
Produced 1958–1972
Number built 556

The Douglas DC-8 (sometimes McDonnell Douglas DC-8) is an early long-range narrow-body jetliner designed and produced by the American Douglas Aircraft Company. Work began in 1952 towards the United States Air Force's (USAF) requirement for a jet-powered aerial refueling tanker. After losing the USAF's tanker competition to the rival Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker in May 1954, Douglas announced in June 1955 its derived jetliner project marketed to civil operators. In October 1955, Pan Am made the first order along with the competing Boeing 707, and many other airlines soon followed. The first DC-8 was rolled out in Long Beach Airport on April 9, 1958, and flew for the first time on May 30. Following Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification in August 1959, the DC-8 entered service with Delta Air Lines on September 18.

Permitting six-abreast seating, the four-engined, low-wing jet aircraft was initially produced in four 151 ft (46 m) long variants. The DC-8-10 was powered by Pratt & Whitney JT3C turbojets and had a 273,000 lb (124 t) MTOW, the DC-8-20 had more powerful JT4A turbojets for a 276,000 lb (125 t) MTOW. The intercontinental models had more fuel capacity and up to 315,000 lb (143 t) MTOW, powered by JT4As for the Series 30 and by Rolls-Royce Conway turbofans for the Series 40. The Pratt & Whitney JT3D powered the later DC-8-50 and Super 60 (DC-8-61, -62, and -63) as well as freighter versions, and reached a MTOW of 325,000 lb (147 t). A stretched DC-8 variant wasn't considered initially, leading some airlines to order the competing Boeing 707 instead.

The improved Series 60 was announced in April 1965. The DC-8-61 was stretched by 36 ft (11 m) for 180–220 seats in mixed-class and a MTOW of 325,000 lb (147 t). It first flew on March 14, 1966, was certified on September 2, 1966, and entered service with United Airlines in February 1967. The long-range DC-8-62 followed in April 1967, stretched by 7 ft (2.1 m), could seat up to 189 passengers over 5,200 nautical miles [nmi] (9,600 km; 6,000 mi) with a larger wing for a MTOW up to 350,000 lb (159 t). The DC-8-63 had the long fuselage and the enlarged wing, freighters MTOW reached 355,000 lb (161 t).

The DC-8 was produced until 1972 with 556 aircraft built; it was superseded by larger wide-body airliners including Douglas' DC-10 trijet. Noise concerns stimulated demand for a quieter variant; from 1975, Douglas and General Electric offered the Series 70 retrofit, powered by the quieter and more fuel-efficient CFM56 turbofan engine. It largely exited passenger service during the 1980s and 1990s, but some re-engined DC-8s remain in use as freighters.





At the end of World War II, Douglas was a dominant North American aircraft producer in the commercial aviation market, only being rivaled by Boeing, releasing the innovative all-metal Model 247 airliner in 1933, and produced prodigious quantities of the rugged four-engined B-17 Flying Fortress and sophisticated, pressurized long-range B-29 Superfortress.[citation needed] Douglas produced a succession of piston-engined aircraft (DC-2, DC-3, DC-4, DC-5, DC-6, and DC-7) through the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s. While de Havilland flew the world's first jet airliner, the Comet, in May 1949,[1][2] Douglas initially refrained from developing a jet airliner.

De Havilland's pioneering Comet entered airline service in May 1952.[3][4] Initially, it appeared to be a success, but the Comet was grounded in 1954 after two fatal accidents which were subsequently attributed to rapid metal fatigue failure of the pressure cabin.[5] Various aircraft manufacturers benefited from the findings and experiences gained from the investigation into Comet losses; specifically, Douglas paid significant attention to detail in the design of the DC-8's pressurized cabin.[6][7] By 1952, Douglas had continued its success as a commercial aircraft manufacturer, having received almost 300 orders for its piston-engine DC-6 and its successor, the DC-7, which had yet to fly.[8] The Comet disasters, and the airlines' subsequent lack of interest in jets, seemed to validate the company's decision to remain with propeller-driven aircraft, but its inaction enabled rival manufacturers to take the lead instead.[9][10]

As early as 1949, rival company Boeing had started design work on a pure jet airliner. Boeing's military arm had experience with large long-range jets, such as the B-47 Stratojet and the B-52 Stratofortress strategic bombers. While producing and supporting these bombers for the United States Air Force (USAF), Boeing had developed a close relationship with the USAF's Strategic Air Command (SAC). The company also supplied the SAC's refueling aircraft, the piston-engined KC-97 Stratofreighters, but these proved to be too slow and low flying to easily work with the new jet bombers. The B-52, in particular, had to descend from its cruising altitude and then slow almost to its stall speed to refuel from the KC-97.[11] Believing that a requirement for a jet-powered tanker was a certainty, Boeing started work on a new jet aircraft for this role that could be adapted into an airliner. As an airliner, it would have similar seating capacity to the Comet, but the use of a swept wing enabled a higher cruising speed and better range. First presented in 1950 as the Model 473-60C, Boeing failed to generate any interest from airlines, yet remained confident that the project was worthwhile and pressed ahead with a prototype, the Boeing 367-80 ("Dash-80"). After spending $16 million of its own money to build it, the Dash-80 rolled out on May 15, 1954.[12]

Early design phase


During mid-1952, Douglas opted to covertly begin work on definition studies for a jet-powered transport aircraft. The company's design team examined various arrangements, including some that closely resembled the Comet.[8] By mid-1953, the team had settled on a form similar to the final DC-8; an 80-seat, low-wing aircraft powered by four Pratt & Whitney JT3C turbojet engines, 30° wing sweep, and an internal cabin diameter of 11 feet (3.35 m) to allow five-abreast seating. The use of podded engines was seen as highly beneficial for maintenance purposes as well as to increase wing volume for accommodating fuel.[13] The fuselage featured a double-bubble cross-section that produced relatively low drag while providing for a relatively spacious passenger cabin along with a large cargo deck that was sufficiently tall as to permit ground crews to stand up within it.[14]

While Douglas remained lukewarm about the jet airliner project, it believed that the USAF tanker contract would go to two companies for two different aircraft, as several USAF transport contracts in the past had done. In May 1954, the USAF circulated its requirement for 800 jet tankers to Boeing, Douglas, Convair, Fairchild Aircraft, Lockheed Corporation, and Martin Marietta. At the time, Boeing was only two months away from having its prototype in the air. Just four months after issuing the tanker requirement, the USAF ordered the first 29 KC-135 Stratotankers from Boeing.[15][14] Donald Douglas was reportedly shocked by the rapidity of the decision which, he claimed, had been made before the competing companies even had time to complete their bids. He protested to Washington, but without success.

Six-abreast economy cabin, 1973

Having already started on the DC-8 project, Douglas decided that the best option was to press on than abandon the project.[16] Following consultations with the airlines, several design changes were made, such as the fuselage being widened by 15 inches (38 cm) to permit six-abreast seating, which in turn led to larger wings and tail surfaces being adopted along with a lengthening of the fuselage. The existence of the DC-8 was formally announced on 7 June 1955; at the time of the announcement, the development costs had been forecast to be roughly $450 million.[17] Four versions were offered to begin with, all with the same 150-foot-6-inch (45.87 m) long airframe with a 141-foot-1-inch (43.00 m) wingspan, but varying in engines and fuel capacity, and with maximum weights of about 240,000–260,000 lb (109–118 metric tons). Douglas steadfastly refused to offer different fuselage sizes. The maiden flight was planned for December 1957, with entry into revenue service in 1959. Aware that the program was lagging behind Boeing, Douglas began a major marketing push to promote its new jetliner.[citation needed]

First orders


Douglas' previous thinking about the airliner market seemed to be coming true; the transition to turbine power looked likely to be to turboprops rather than turbojets. The pioneering 40–60-seat Vickers Viscount was in service and proving popular with passengers and airlines: it was faster, quieter, and more comfortable than piston-engined types.[18][19] Another British rival was the 90-seat Bristol Britannia, and Douglas's main rival in the large airliner market, Lockheed Corporation, had committed to the short to medium range 80–100-seat turboprop Electra, with a launch order from American Airlines for 35 and other orders flowing in.[20] Meanwhile, the Comet remained grounded, the French 90-passenger twin jet Sud Aviation Caravelle prototype had just flown for the first time, and the Boeing 707 was not expected to be available until late 1958.[21] The major airlines were reluctant to commit themselves to the huge financial and technical challenges of jet aircraft; however, none could afford not to buy jets if their competitors did.[citation needed]

There the matter rested until October 1955, when Pan American World Airways placed simultaneous orders with Boeing for 20 707s and Douglas for 25 DC-8s.[22] To buy one expensive and untried jet-powered aircraft type was brave: to buy both was, at the time, unheard of. In the closing months of 1955, other airlines rushed to follow suit: Air France, American Airlines, Braniff International Airways, Continental Airlines, and Sabena ordered 707s; United Airlines, National Airlines, KLM, Eastern Air Lines, Japan Air Lines, and Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS) chose the DC-8. In 1956, Air India, BOAC, Lufthansa, Qantas, and TWA added over 50 to the 707 order book, while Douglas sold 22 DC-8s to Delta, Swissair, TAI, Trans Canada, and UAT. By the start of 1958, Douglas had sold 133 DC-8s compared to Boeing's 150 707s.[17]

Production and testing

An early DC-8-10 in Douglas livery, 1959. The DC-8 first flew on May 30, 1958, and was certificated in August 1959.

Donald Douglas proposed to build and test the DC-8 at Santa Monica Airport, which had been the birthplace of the DC-3 and home to a Douglas plant that employed 44,000 workers during World War II. To accommodate the new jet, Douglas asked the city of Santa Monica, California to lengthen the airport's 5,000-foot runway. Following complaints by neighboring residents, the city refused, so Douglas moved its airliner production line to Long Beach Airport.[23][24] In September 1956, production of the first prototype commenced.[17] The first DC-8 N8008D was rolled out of the new Long Beach factory on 9 April 1958 and flew for the first time, in Series 10 form, on 30 May for two hours and seven minutes with the crew being led by A.G. Heimerdinger.[25][21]

Later that year, an enlarged version of the Comet finally returned to service, but had arrived too late to secure a substantial portion of the market: de Havilland secured just 25 orders. In August, Boeing had begun delivering 707s to Pan Am. Douglas made a massive effort to close the gap with Boeing, using no fewer than ten aircraft for flight testing to achieve Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification for the first of the many DC-8 variants in August 1959.[26] Several modifications proved to be necessary: the original air brakes on the lower rear fuselage were found to be ineffective and were deleted as engine thrust reversers had become available; unique leading-edge slots were added to improve low-speed lift; the prototype was 25 kn (46 km/h) short of its promised cruising speed and a new, slightly larger wingtip had to be developed to reduce drag. Also, a recontoured wing leading edge was later developed to extend the chord 4% and reduce drag at high Mach numbers.[27][28]

On August 21, 1961, a DC-8 broke the sound barrier at Mach 1.012 (660 mph/1,062 km/h) while in a controlled dive through 41,000 feet (12,497 m) and maintained that speed for 16 seconds. The flight was to collect data on a new leading edge design for the wing, and, while doing so, the DC-8 became the first civilian jet – and the first jet airliner – to make a supersonic flight.[29] The aircraft was DC-8-43 registered as CF-CPG, later delivered to Canadian Pacific Air Lines. The aircraft, crewed by Captain William Magruder, First Officer Paul Patten, Flight Engineer Joseph Tomich and Flight Test Engineer Richard Edwards, took off from Edwards Air Force Base in California and was accompanied to altitude by a F-104 Starfighter supersonic chase aircraft flown by Chuck Yeager.[30]

Entry into service

The DC-8 entered service with Delta Air Lines on September 18, 1959.

On September 18, 1959, the DC-8 entered service with Delta Air Lines and United Airlines.[31][32] According to the Delta Air Lines website, the air carrier was the first to operate the DC-8 in scheduled passenger service.[33] By March 1960, Douglas had reached its planned production rate of eight DC-8s per month. Despite a large number of DC-8 early models being available, all used the same basic airframe, differing only in engines, weights and details; in contrast, the rival Boeing 707 range offered several fuselage lengths and two wingspans: the original 144-foot (44 m) 707-120, a 135-foot (41 m) version that sacrificed space to gain longer range, and the stretched 707-320, which at 153 feet (47 m) overall had 10 feet (3.0 m) more cabin space than the DC-8.[citation needed]

Douglas' refusal to offer different fuselage sizes made it less adaptable and compelled airlines such as Delta and United to look elsewhere for short to medium range types. Delta ordered Convair 880s while United chose the newly developed short-fuselage 707-020. United prevailed on Boeing to rename the new variant the Boeing 720 in case the public thought they were dissatisfied with the DC-8. Pan Am never reordered the DC-8 and Douglas gradually lost market share to Boeing.[34] In 1962, DC-8 sales dropped to just 26 aircraft that year, followed by 21 in 1963 and 14 in 1964; many of these later deliveries were of the Jet Trader model rather than the more-prestigious passenger versions.[citation needed] In 1967, Douglas merged with McDonnell Aircraft, becoming McDonnell Douglas.[35][36]

Further developments

Announced in April 1965, the DC-8 Super 61 was stretched by 36.7 ft (11.2 m).

During the early 1960s, Douglas began considering stretching the DC-8, a feat that was eased by its fuselage keeping the same dimensions across its length.[37] In April 1965, the company announced belated fuselage stretches for the DC-8 with three new models known as the Super Sixties. The DC-8 program had been in danger of closing with fewer than 300 aircraft sold, but the Super Sixties brought fresh life to it. By the time production of the DC-8 ceased in 1972, 262 of the Super Sixties had been completed, almost half of all models produced. With the ability to seat 269 passengers, the DC-8 Series 61 and 63 had the largest passenger-carrying capacity available. That remained so until the Boeing 747 arrived in 1970.[37][10] The DC-8-62 featured a shorter fuselage when compared with the Series 61 and 63, but was capable of nonstop long-range operations.[38]

All of the earlier jetliners were relatively noisy by modern standards. Increasing traffic densities and changing public attitudes led to complaints about aircraft noise and moves to introduce restrictions.[39] As early as 1966 the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey expressed concern about the noise to be expected from the then still-unbuilt DC-8-61, and operators had to agree to operate it from New York at lower weights to reduce noise. By the early 1970s, legislation for aircraft noise standards was being introduced in many countries, and the 60 Series DC-8s were particularly at risk of being banned from major airports.[citation needed]

From the late 1970s, the Super 70s were re-engined with larger, more efficient CFM56s.

In the early 1970s, several airlines approached McDonnell Douglas with requests for noise reduction modifications to their DC-8s. While third parties had developed aftermarket hushkits, there was initially no meaningful action taken by Douglas to fulfil these requests and effectively enable the DC-8 to remain in service. Finally, in 1975, General Electric began discussions with major airlines to fit the new and vastly-quieter Franco-American CFM56 engine to both DC-8s and 707s. MDC remained reluctant but eventually came on board in the late 1970s and helped develop the Series 70.[40] The Super Seventies proved to be a great success, being roughly 70% quieter than the 60 Series and, at the time of their introduction, the world's quietest four-engined airliner. As well as being quieter and more powerful, the CFM56 was up to 23% more fuel-efficient than the JT3D, which reduced operating costs and extended the range.[40] The largest single customer for the Series 70 was United, converting 29 of its Series 61 airliners at a reported cost of $400 million.[41]

By 2002, of the 1,032 Boeing 707s and 720s manufactured for commercial use, just 80 remained in service – though many of those 707s were converted for USAF use, either in service or for spare parts. Of the 556 DC-8s made, around 200 were still in commercial service in 2002, including about 25 50-Series, 82 of the stretched 60-Series, and 96 out of the 110 re-engined 70-Series. Most of the surviving DC-8s are now used as freighters. In May 2009, 97 DC-8s were in service following UPS's decision to retire its remaining fleet of 44.[42] In January 2013, an estimated 36 DC-8s were in use worldwide.[43] As a result of aging, increasing operating costs and strict noise and emissions regulations, the number of active DC-8s continues to decline, with the youngest airframes passed a half-century of age as of 2024.



Series 10

United Airlines DC-8-11, powered by Pratt & Whitney JT3C turbojets. All -10 series aircraft that survived long enough were converted to other standards.

For domestic use,[44] powered by 13,500 lb (60.5 kN) Pratt & Whitney JT3C-6 turbojets with water injection. First Series 10 DC-8 flew on 30 May 1958.[44] The initial DC-8-11 model had the original wingtips used on the prototype, and all remaining DC-8 Series 10 aircraft were upgraded to DC-8-12 standard. The DC-8-12 featured the new low-drag wingtips and leading-edge slots, 80 inches long between the engines on each wing and 34 inches long inboard of the inner engines. These unique devices were covered by doors on the upper and lower wing surfaces that opened for low-speed flight and closed for cruise. The maximum weight increased from 265,000 to 273,000 pounds (120,200 to 123,800 kg). This model was originally named "DC-8A" until the series 30 was introduced.[45] 30 DC-8-10s were built: 23 for United and six for Delta, plus the prototype. By the mid-sixties, United had converted 16 of its 21 surviving aircraft to DC-8-20 standard and the other five to -50s. Delta converted its six to DC-8-50s. The prototype was itself also converted to a DC-8-50.[46]

It received FAA certification on 31 August 1958, entering service with United Airlines and Delta Air Lines on 18 September 1959.[44]

Series 20

Air Spain DC-8-21, powered by Pratt & Whitney JT4A turbojets, like the heavier Series 30

Higher-powered 15,800 lb (70.8 kN) thrust Pratt & Whitney JT4A-3 turbojets[44] (without water injection) allowed a weight increase to 276,000 pounds (125,190 kg). 33 DC-8-20s were built plus 16 converted DC-8-10s.[46] This model was originally named "DC-8B" but was renamed when the Series 30 was introduced.[45][page needed]

The first Series 20 DC-8 flew on 29 November 1958 and received FAA certification on 19 January 1960.[44]

Series 30


For intercontinental routes, the three Series 30 variants combined JT4A engines with a one-third increase in fuel capacity and strengthened fuselage and landing gear.[44] The DC-8-31 was certified in March 1960 with 16,800 lb (75.2 kN) JT4A-9 engines for 300,000-pound (136,080 kg) maximum takeoff weight. The DC-8-32 was similar but allowed 310,000-pound (140,600 kg) weight. The DC-8-33 of November 1960 substituted 17,500 lb (78.4 kN) JT4A-11 turbojets, a modification to the flap linkage to allow a 1.5° setting for more efficient cruise, stronger landing gear, and 315,000-pound (142,880 kg) maximum weight. Many -31 and -32 DC-8s were upgraded to this standard. A total of 57 DC-8-30s were produced (five of which were later upgraded to DC-8-50 standard).[46]

The Series 30 DC-8 first flew on 21 February 1959 and received FAA certification on 1 February 1960.[44]

Series 40

-42 of Trans-Canada Air Lines, powered by Rolls-Royce Conway turbofans

The DC-8-40 was essentially the -30 but with 17,500 lb (78.4 kN) Rolls-Royce Conway 509 turbofan engines for better efficiency, less noise and less smoke. The Conway was an improvement over the turbojets that preceded it, but the Series 40 sold poorly because of the traditional reluctance of U.S. airlines to buy a foreign product and because the still-more-advanced Pratt & Whitney JT3D turbofan was due in early 1961. The DC-8-41 and DC-8-42 had weights of 300,000 and 310,000 pounds (140,000 and 140,000 kg) respectively, the 315,000-pound (142,880 kg) DC-8-43 had the 1.5° flap setting of the -33 and introduced a 4% leading-edge wing extension to reduce drag and increase fuel capacity slightly – the new wing improved range by 8%, lifting capacity by 6,600 lb (3 metric tons), and cruising speed by better than 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph). It was used on all later DC-8s. The first DC-8-40 was delivered in 1960; 32 were built (of which three would eventually be converted to DC-8-50s).[46]

The Series 40 DC-8 first flew on 23 July 1959 and received FAA certification on 24 March 1960.[44]

Series 50

A KLM DC-8-55CF powered by Pratt & Whitney JT3D turbofans
The unique EC-24A electronic warfare trainer of the US Navy

The definitive short-fuselage DC-8 came with the same engine that powered the vast majority of 707s, the JT3D. Twenty earlier DC-8s were converted to this standard. All but the -55 were certified in 1961. The DC-8-51, DC-8-52 and DC-8-53 all had 17,000 lb (76.1 kN) JT3D-1 or 18,000 lb (80.6 kN) JT3D-3B engines, varying mainly in their weights: 276,000 pounds (125,200 kg), 300,000 pounds (136,100 kg) and 315,000 pounds (142,900 kg) respectively. The DC-8-55 arrived in June 1964, retaining the JT3D-3B engines but with strengthened structure from the freighter versions and 325,000-pound (147,420 kg) maximum weight. 142 DC-8-50s were built plus the 20 converted from Series 10/30/40.[46]

The Series 50 first flew on 20 December 1960 and received FAA certification on 1 May 1961.[44]

  • DC-8 Jet Trader: Douglas approved the development of freighter versions of the DC-8 in May 1961, based on the Series 50. An original plan to fit a fixed bulkhead separating the forward 23 of the cabin for freight, leaving the rear cabin for 54 passenger seats was soon replaced by a more practical one to use a movable bulkhead and allow anywhere between 25 and 114 seats with the remainder set aside for cargo. A large cargo door was fitted into the forward fuselage, the cabin floor was reinforced and the rear pressure bulkhead was moved by nearly 7 feet (2.1 m) to make more space. Airlines could order a windowless cabin but only United did, ordering 15 in 1964. The DC-8F-54 had a maximum takeoff weight of 315,000 pounds (142,880 kg) and the DC-8F-55 325,000 pounds (147,420 kg). Both used 18,000 lb (80.6 kN) JT3D-3B powerplants. 62 aircraft built (plus one converted from a standard DC-8-50 and two of the three converted DC-8-40s).[46]
  • EC-24A: A single former United Airlines DC-8-54 (F) was used by the United States Navy as an electronic warfare training platform. It was retired in October 1998 and is now in storage with the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group.[citation needed]

Super 60 Series

The 187 ft 4 in (57.10 m) long DC-8-61 was introduced by United Airlines in February 1967.
The extended-range 157 ft 5 in (47.98 m) long DC-8-62 followed suit in April 1967.
  • DC-8 Series 61: The "Super DC-8" Series 61 was designed for high capacity and medium range. It had the same wings, engines and pylons as the -55, and sacrificed range to gain capacity. Having decided to stretch the DC-8, Douglas inserted a 240-inch (6.1 m) plug in the forward fuselage and a 200-inch (5.1 m) plug aft, taking overall length to 187 feet 4 inches (57.10 m). The added length required strengthening of the structure, but the basic DC-8 design already had sufficient ground clearance to permit the one-third increase in cabin size without requiring longer landing gear.[25] The variant first flew on March 14, 1966, and was certified on September 2, 1966, at a maximum weight of 325,000 pounds (147,420 kg).[47] Deliveries began in January 1967 and it entered service with United Airlines in February 1967.[48][49] It typically carried 180–220 passengers in mixed-class configuration, or 259 in high-density configuration.[25] A cargo door equipped DC-8-61CF was also available. 78 -61s and 10 -61CFs were built.[46][25]
  • DC-8 Series 62: The long-range Series 62 followed in April 1967. It had a more modest stretch, two 40-inch (1.0 m) plugs fore and aft of the wing taking overall length to 157 feet 5 inches (47.98 m), and a number of modifications to provide greater range. 3 feet (0.91 m) wingtip extensions reduced drag and added fuel capacity, and Douglas redesigned the engine pods, extending the pylons and substituting new shorter and neater nacelles, all in the cause of drag reduction. The 18,000 lb JT3D-3B was retained but the engine pylons were redesigned to eliminate their protrusion above the wing and make them sweep forward more sharply, so that the engines were some 40 inches (1.0 m) further forward. The engine pods were also modified with a reduction in diameter and the elimination of the -50 and -61 bypass duct. The changes all improved the aircraft's aerodynamic efficiency. The DC-8 Series 62 is slightly heavier than the -53 or -61 at 335,000 pounds (151,953 kg), and is able to seat up to 189 passengers. The -62 had a range with full payload of about 5,200 nautical miles (9,600 km; 6,000 mi); roughly the same as the -53, but with 40 extra passengers. Many late production -62s had 350,000 pounds (158,760 kg) maximum takeoff weight and were known as the -62H.[50] Also available were the cargo door-equipped convertible -62CF or all cargo -62AF. Production included 51 DC-8-62s, 10 -62CFs, and 6 -62AFs.[46][25]
  • DC-8 Series 63: The "Super DC-8" Series 63 was the final new-build variant and entered service in June 1968. It had the long fuselage of the -61, the aerodynamic refinements and increased fuel capacity of the -62 and 19,000 lb (85.1 kN) JT3D-7 engines.[25] This allowed a maximum takeoff weight of 350,000 pounds (158,760 kg).[25] Like the -62, the Series 63 was also available as a cargo door equipped -63CF or all cargo -63AF. The freighters had a further increase in Maximum Take Off Weight to 355,000 pounds (161,030 kg). Eastern Air Lines bought six -63PFs which incorporated the strengthened floor of the freighters but lacked the main deck cargo door. Production included 41 DC-8-63s, 53 -63CF, 7 -63AF, and 6 -63PFs.[46][25] The Flying Tiger Line was a major early customer for the DC-8-63F.

Super 70 Series

Refitted with CFM56 turbofans, the Super 70s were certified in 1982.

The DC-8-71, DC-8-72, and DC-8-73 were straightforward conversions of the -61, -62 and -63 primarily involving the replacement of the JT3D engines with the more fuel-efficient CFM International CFM56-2, a high bypass turbofan, which produced 22,000 lbf (98.5 kN) of thrust. The conversions also includes new nacelles and pylons built by Grumman Aerospace. Maximum takeoff weights remained the same, but there was a slight reduction in payload because of the heavier engines. Modifications to create the -71 was more involved because the -61 did not have the improved wings and relocated engines of the -62 and -63.

All three models were certified in 1982 and a total of 110 60-series Super DC-8s were converted by the time the program ended in 1988.[46] DC-8 series 70 conversions were overseen by Cammacorp with CFMI, McDonnell Douglas, and Grumman Aerospace as partners. Cammacorp was disbanded after the last aircraft was converted.[40]



As of January 2023, five DC-8s remain in commercial service by two commercial airlines.[51] Peruvian cargo airline Skybus Jet Cargo operates two DC-8-73s.[citation needed] Congolese cargo airline Trans Air Cargo is listed as having three active DC-8s (DC-8-62s) in its fleet. The most recent to have flown (9S-AJG) has not seen service since April 2021[citation needed]; though actively registered, 9Q-CGL has an unknown fate, as it has also been listed as being in storage since 2016.[52]

In the United States, the DC-8 has been retired from commercial service entirely; only one example maintains active registration (with one flying). Samaritan's Purse (a faith-based humanitarian relief organization) has operated a DC-8-72 Combi (acquired from Air Transport International) since 2015.[53]

In spring of 2024 NASA retired N817NA, a DC-8-72 flying laboratory that has supported research in meteorology, oceanography, geography, and various other scientific disciplines since 1986.[54][55] The NASA DC-8 will be replaced with a more capable and fuel-efficient Boeing 777-200ER. The aircraft was donated to Idaho State University and is currently preserved at Pocatello Regional Airport.[54]

Accidents and incidents


As of October 2015, the DC-8 had been involved in 146 incidents,[56] including 84 hull-loss accidents,[57] with 2,255 fatalities.[58] The DC-8 has also been involved in 46 hijackings with 2 fatalities.[59] The deadliest incident involving the DC-8 was Nigeria Airways Flight 2120 which crashed on July 11, 1991, with 261 fatalities.[60]

Aircraft on display


The following museums have DC-8s on display or in storage:


DC-8-10/20/30/40/50,[69] DC-8-43/55/61/62/63/71/72/73[70]
Variant -10/20/30 -40/43/50/55 -61/71 -63/73 -62/72
Cockpit crew Three
Passengers 177 -40/43: 177, -50/55: 189 259 189
Max. cargo 1,390 cu ft (39 m3) 2,500 cu ft (71 m3) 1,615 cu ft (45.7 m3)
Wingspan 142.4 ft (43.4 m) 148.4 ft (45.2 m)
Length 150.7 ft (45.9 m) 187.4 ft (57.1 m) 157.5 ft (48.0 m)
Fuselage outside width: 147 in (373.4 cm), inside width: 138.25 in (351.2 cm)
Max. Takeoff
Weight (MTOW)
-10: 273,000 lb (123.8 t)
-20: 276,000 lb (125.2 t)
30: 315,000 lb (142.9 t)
315,000 lb (142.9 t)
-55: 325,000 lb (147.4 t)
325,000 lb (147.4 t)
-F: 328,000 lb (148.8 t)
355,000 lb (161.0 t) 350,000 lb (158.8 t)
-72F: 335,000 lb (152.0 t)
-10: 46,103 lb (20.9 t)
-20: 43,624 lb (19.8 t)
-30: 51,870 lb (23.5 t)
52,000 lb (23.6 t)
-43: 41,691 lb (18.9 t)
-61: 71,899 lb (32.6 t)
-71: 60,300 lb (27.4 t)
-63: 71,262 lb (32.3 t)
-73: 64,800 lb (29.4 t)
-62: 51,745 lb (23.5 t)
-72: 41,800 lb (19.0 t)
Operating empty
weight (OEW)
-10: 119,797 lb (54.3 t)
-20: 123,876 lb (56.2 t)
-30: 126,330 lb (57.3 t)
-40/50: 124,800 lb (56.6 t)
-43: 136,509 lb (61.9 t)
-55: 138,266 lb (62.7 t)
-61: 152,101 lb (69.0 t)
-71: 163,700 lb (74.3 t)
-63: 158,738 lb (72.0 t)
-73: 166,200 lb (75.4 t)
-62: 143,255 lb (65.0 t)
-72: 153,200 lb (69.5 t)
Max. fuel 23,393 US gal (88.6 m3), -10/20: 17,550 US gal (66.4 m3) 24,275 US gal (91.9 m3)
Engines[a] -10: P&W JT3C
-20/30: P&W JT4A
-40/43: RCo.12
-50/55: P&W JT3D-3B
Super 61/62: P&W JT3D-3B, Super 63: P&W JT3D-7
Super 70: CFM56-2
Cruise speed Mach 0.82 (483 kn; 895 km/h; 556 mph)
Range[b] -10: 3,760 nmi (6,960 km; 4,330 mi)
-20: 4,050 nmi (7,500 km; 4,660 mi)
-30: 4,005 nmi (7,417 km; 4,609 mi)
-40: 5,310 nmi (9,830 km; 6,110 mi)
-43: 4,200 nmi (7,800 km; 4,800 mi)
-50: 5,855 nmi (10,843 km; 6,738 mi)
-55: 4,700 nmi (8,700 km; 5,400 mi)
-61: 3,200 nmi (5,900 km; 3,700 mi)
-71: 3,500 nmi (6,500 km; 4,000 mi)
-63: 4,000 nmi (7,400 km; 4,600 mi)
-73: 4,500 nmi (8,300 km; 5,200 mi)
-62: 5,200 nmi (9,600 km; 6,000 mi)
-72: 5,300 nmi (9,800 km; 6,100 mi)
Freighter versions -50/-55 -61/71 63/73 -62/72
Volume -50: 9,310 cu ft (264 m3)
-55: 9,020 cu ft (255 m3)
12,171 cu ft (344.6 m3) 12,830 cu ft (363 m3) 9,737 cu ft (275.7 m3)
Payload -50: 88,022 lb (39.9 t)
-55: 92,770 lb (42.1 t)
-61: 88,494 lb (40.1 t)
-71: 81,300 lb (36.9 t)
-63: 119,670 lb (54.3 t)
-73: 111,800 lb (50.7 t)
-62: 91,440 lb (41.5 t)
-72: 90,800 lb (41.2 t)
OEW -50: 130,207 lb (59.1 t)
-55: 131,230 lb (59.5 t)
-61: 145,506 lb (66.0 t)
-71: 152,700 lb (69.3 t)
-63: 141,330 lb (64.1 t)
-73: 149,200 lb (67.7 t)
-62: 138,560 lb (62.8 t)
-72: 140,200 lb (63.6 t)
Max PL
-55: 3,000 nmi (5,600 km; 3,500 mi) -61/63: 2,300 nmi (4,300 km; 2,600 mi)
-71/73: 2,900 nmi (5,400 km; 3,300 mi)
-62: 3,200 nmi (5,900 km; 3,700 mi)
-72: 3,900 nmi (7,200 km; 4,500 mi)
The DC-8 is a low-wing jetliner with a swept wing and four engines.


1959 1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 Total
21 91 42 22 19 20 31 32 41 102 85 33 13 4 556
-10 -20 -30 -40 -50 -61 -62 -63 Total
29 34 57 32 142 88 67 107 556

See also

A DC-8 (left, engine cowlings open) and a competing Convair CV-990 (right, with distinctive anti-shock bodies on wings' trailing edge)

Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era

Related lists


  1. ^ turbofans except JT3C and JT4A turbojets
  2. ^ -10/20/30/40/50: max PL, -43/55/Super 60/Super 70: max pax




  1. ^ Dick and Patterson 2010, pp. 134–137.
  2. ^ Green and Swanborough April 1977, p. 174.
  3. ^ "On This Day: Comet inaugurates the jet age." Archived September 13, 2010, at the Wayback Machine BBC News, 2 May 1952. Retrieved 26 April 2012.
  4. ^ Cookman, Aubrey O. Jr. "I Rode The First Jet Airliner." Popular Mechanics, July 1952, pp. 90–94. Retrieved 26 April 2012.
  5. ^ Darling 2001, p. 33.
  6. ^ “Damage Tolerance in Pressurized Fuselage”, 11th Plantema Memorial Lecture, 14th Symposium of the International Committee on Aeronautical Fatigue (ICAF), New Materials and Fatigue Resistant Aircraft Design, Ottawa, Canada, June 8–12, 1987.
  7. ^ Faith 1996, p. 72.
  8. ^ a b Norris and Wagner 1999, p. 10.
  9. ^ Norris and Wagner 1999, pp. 9-10.
  10. ^ a b Anderton 1976, p. 78.
  11. ^ Cook 1991, pp. 212-213.
  12. ^ Irving 1994, p. 173.
  13. ^ Norris and Wagner 1999, pp. 10-12.
  14. ^ a b Norris and Wagner 1999, p. 12.
  15. ^ May, Mike (Spring 2004). "Gas Stations in the Sky". Invention & Technology. American Heritage Society. Archived from the original on April 27, 2010. Retrieved October 21, 2014.
  16. ^ Norris and Wagner 1999, pp. 12-13.
  17. ^ a b c Norris and Wagner 1999, p. 13.
  18. ^ "Vicker's £163 million turnover".[permanent dead link] New Scientist, 2(27). 23 May 1957. ISSN 0262-4079. p. 50.
  19. ^ Eden 2016, p. 112.
  20. ^ Francillon 1982, pp. 396–397.
  21. ^ a b Norris and Wagner 1999, p. 9.
  22. ^ Eden 2016, p. 76.
  23. ^ Garvey, William. "Battled field" Archived October 21, 2016, at the Wayback Machine. Aviation Week and Space Technology, Vol. 176, No. 6, February 24, 2014, p. 18. (Registration required).
  24. ^ Norris and Wagner 1999, pp. 13-14.
  25. ^ a b c d e f g h Francillon, Rene J. (1979). McDonnell Douglas Aircraft since 1920. Putnam & Company Ltd. pp. 582, 588–589, 590–593, 598. ISBN 0-370-00050-1.
  26. ^ Norris and Wagner 1999, p. 14.
  27. ^ Shevell, R.S. (October 1985). "Aerodynamics Bugs: Can CFD Spray Them Away?". American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. doi:10.2514/6.1985-4067.
  28. ^ Norris and Wagner 1999, pp. 14-16.
  29. ^ "Douglas Passenger Jet Breaks Sound Barrier". DC8.org. August 21, 1961. Archived from the original on October 26, 2006. Retrieved October 24, 2006.
  30. ^ Wasserzieher, Bill. "I Was There: When the DC-8 Went Supersonic, The day a Douglas DC-8 busted Mach 1". Air & Space/Smithsonian, August 2011, pp. 56–57.
  31. ^ "Commercial aircraft of the world". Flight International. Vol. 78, no. 2697. November 18, 1960. p. 803. Archived from the original on August 18, 2013.
  32. ^ Norris and Wagner 1999, p. 16.
  33. ^ "Douglas DC-8 1959-1989". Delta Flight Museum. Archived from the original on August 14, 2016. Retrieved September 25, 2016.
  34. ^ Eden 2016, p. 82.
  35. ^ Wright, Robert (January 26, 1967). "McDonnell and Douglas take a giant step". New York Times. Archived from the original on June 5, 2011. Retrieved January 7, 2010.
  36. ^ Norris and Wagner 1999, p. 36.
  37. ^ a b Norris and Wagner 1999, p. 17.
  38. ^ Norris and Wagner 1999, pp. 17-18.
  39. ^ Eden 2016, p. 89.
  40. ^ a b c Kingsley-Jones, Max and Doyle, Andrew (December 4–10, 1996). "Airliners of the World". Flight International. Vol. 150, no. 4552. p. 57. ISSN 0015-3710. Archived from the original on September 27, 2016. Retrieved September 25, 2016.{{cite magazine}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  41. ^ Norris and Wagner 1999, p. 4.
  42. ^ "Final UPS DC-8 flight lands at Louisville International Airport". Business First of Louisville. May 11, 2009. Archived from the original on May 18, 2009. Retrieved May 13, 2009.
  43. ^ Bostick, Brian (January 10, 2013). "DC-8 Operations in US Winding Down". Aviation Week. Archived from the original on August 11, 2014. Retrieved June 19, 2014.
  44. ^ a b c d e f g h i Jane's All The World's Aircraft 1963-1964 - p.202
  45. ^ a b Norris and Guy 1999, [page needed].
  46. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Douglas DC-8 production list". rzjets. Archived from the original on November 30, 2019. Retrieved November 10, 2019.
  47. ^ Taylor (1966). Jane's All the World's Aircraft. pp. 231–233.
  48. ^ "Air Transport". Flight International. Vol. 91, no. 3022. February 9, 1967. p. 192. Archived from the original on February 22, 2014. Retrieved April 21, 2013.
  49. ^ Harrison, Neil (November 23, 1967). "Commercial Aircraft Survey: DC-8-61". Flight International. Vol. 92, no. 3063. p. 852.
  50. ^ Whittle, Nash, and Sievers 1972, p. 11.
  51. ^ "Douglas DC-8-60/70 Production List". www.planespotters.net. Archived from the original on May 21, 2023. Retrieved May 21, 2023.
  52. ^ "ch-aviation - Aircraft and Fleet Lists". ch-aviation. Archived from the original on May 21, 2023. Retrieved May 21, 2023.
  53. ^ "Samaritan's Purse DC-8". Airliners.net. Archived from the original on March 8, 2021. Retrieved November 11, 2019.
  54. ^ a b "NASA Retiring its DC-8". January 14, 2023. Archived from the original on January 24, 2023. Retrieved January 24, 2023.
  55. ^ "Fact Sheet: DC-8 Airborne Science Laboratory". NASA Armstrong. July 9, 2015. Archived from the original on January 15, 2020. Retrieved November 11, 2019.
  56. ^ "Douglas DC-8 incidents". Aviation Safety Network. October 11, 2015. Archived from the original on November 25, 2011. Retrieved August 27, 2008.
  57. ^ "Douglas DC-8 summary". Aviation Safety Network. October 11, 2015. Archived from the original on March 2, 2021. Retrieved June 3, 2011.
  58. ^ "Douglas DC-8 Accident Statistics". Aviation Safety Network. October 11, 2015. Archived from the original on November 25, 2011. Retrieved August 27, 2008.
  59. ^ "DC-8 Statistics". Aviation Safety Network. October 11, 2015. Archived from the original on November 25, 2011. Retrieved August 27, 2008.
  60. ^ Ranter, Harro. "ASN Aircraft accident McDonnell Douglas DC-8-61 C-GMXQ Jeddah-King Abdulaziz International Airport (JED)". aviation-safety.net. Archived from the original on July 14, 2023. Retrieved September 5, 2019.
  61. ^ "JA8001 Japan Airlines Douglas DC-8-32 - cn 45418 / 78". Planespotters.net. Archived from the original on December 3, 2016. Retrieved December 2, 2016.
  62. ^ "Douglas DC-8 / C-24, c/n 45280, c/r N220RB". Aerial Visuals. Archived from the original on October 14, 2016. Retrieved September 15, 2016.
  63. ^ "Douglas DC-8 SARIGuE F-RAFE". Musée de l’Air et de l’Espace (in French). Archived from the original on September 23, 2016. Retrieved September 15, 2016.
  64. ^ "ADouglas DC-8-33, s/n 45570 ALA, c/n 45570, c/r F-BIUZ". Aerial Visuals. Archived from the original on October 14, 2016. Retrieved September 16, 2016.
  65. ^ "Douglas DC-8-52, c/n 45850, c/r N8066U". Aerial Visuals. Archived from the original on October 14, 2016. Retrieved September 15, 2016.
  66. ^ "Douglas DC-8-62CF Construction No. 45922". Naval Air Museum Barbers Point. Archived from the original on October 15, 2016. Retrieved September 15, 2016.
  67. ^ "9J-MKK MK Airlines Douglas DC-8-60/70". planespotters.net. February 6, 2024. Retrieved April 11, 2024.
  68. ^ "Douglas DC-8 / C-24, c/n 46160, c/r JA8048". Aerial Visuals. Archived from the original on October 14, 2016. Retrieved September 15, 2016.
  69. ^ "Commercial Aircraft of the World" (PDF). Flight. November 23, 1961. pp. 799–836. Archived (PDF) from the original on September 11, 2019. Retrieved February 24, 2016.
  70. ^ "Airplane Characteristics for Airport Planning" (PDF). Boeing. 1989. Archived (PDF) from the original on February 25, 2021. Retrieved September 25, 2016.



Further reading

  • Cearley, George Walker. The Douglas DC-8: A Pictorial History. Dallas: G.W. Cearley Jr., 1992.
  • Douglas Aircraft Co. The DC-8 Story. Long Beach, CA: Douglas Aircraft Company, 1972.
  • Douglas Aircraft Co. Douglas DC-8 Maintenance Manual. Long Beach, CA: Douglas Aircraft Company, 1959. OCLC 10621428.
  • Hubler, Richard G. Big Eight: A Biography of an Airplane. New York: Duell, Sloan, and Pearce, 1960.
  • Lundkvist, Bo-Goran. Douglas DC-8. Coral Springs, FL: Lundkvist Aviation Research, 1983. OCLC 62220710.
  • McDonnell-Douglas. The DC-8 Super-Sixty. Long Beach, CA: McDonnell Douglas Corp. Sales Engineering Div., 1968.
  • McDonnell-Douglas. The DC-8 Handbook. Long Beach, CA: McDonnell Douglas Corp. Sales Engineering Div., 1982.
  • Mak, Ron (2023). Douglas DC-8. Historic Commercial Aircraft Series, Vol 7. Stamford, Lincs, UK: Key Publishing. ISBN 9781802824322. Archived from the original on May 9, 2023. Retrieved April 17, 2023.
  • Proctor, Jon, Machat, Mike, Kodeta, Craig. From Props to Jets: Commercial Aviatin's Transition to the Jet Age 1952–1962. North Branch, MN: Specialty Press. ISBN 1-58007-146-5.
  • Thomas, Geoffrey (April 25, 2023). "History of the magnificent DC-8". Airline Ratings. Archived from the original on May 9, 2023. Retrieved May 9, 2023.
  • Vicenzi, Ugo. Early American Jetliners: Boeing 707, Douglas DC-8 and Convair CV880. Osceola, WI: MBI Publishing. ISBN 0-7603-0788-1.
  • Waddington, Terry. Douglas DC-8. Miami, FL: World Transport Press, 1996. ISBN 0-9626730-5-6.
  • Wilson, Stewart. Airliners of the World. Fyshwick, Australia, ACT: Aerospace Publications Pty Ltd., 1999. ISBN 1-875671-44-7.
  • Wilson, Stewart. Boeing 707, Douglas DC-8, and Vickers VC-10. Fyshwick, Australia, ACT: Aerospace Publications Pty Ltd., 1998. ISBN 1-875671-36-6.