McDonnell Douglas MD-80

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MD-80 series
Jet airliner with two rear-mounted engines on takeoff
An Iberia MD-88 in 2002
Role Narrow-body jet airliner
Manufacturer McDonnell Douglas
Boeing Commercial Airplanes (from Aug. 1997)
First flight October 18, 1979
Introduction October 10, 1980 with Swissair
Status in service
Primary users LASER Airlines
Aeronaves TSM
World Atlantic Airlines
Bulgarian Air Charter[1]
Produced 1979–1999
Number built 1,191
Developed from McDonnell Douglas DC-9
Variants McDonnell Douglas MD-90
Developed into Boeing 717
Comac ARJ21

The McDonnell Douglas MD-80 is a series of single-aisle airliners developed by McDonnell Douglas from the DC-9. Stretched, heavier, and with higher bypass Pratt & Whitney JT8D-200 engines, the DC-9 Series 80 was launched in October 1977. It made its first flight on October 18, 1979 and was certified on August 25, 1980. It was delivered to launch customer Swissair on September 13, 1980, which introduced it into commercial service on October 10, 1980.

Keeping the five-abreast coach seating, longer variants are stretched by 14 ft (4.3 m) from the DC-9-50 and have a 28% larger wing. The larger variants (MD-81/82/83/88) are 148 ft (45.1 m) long to seat 155 passengers in coach and, with varying weights, can cover up to 2,550 nmi (4,720 km). The later MD-88 has a modern cockpit with EFIS displays. The MD-87 is 17 ft (5.3 m) shorter for 130 passengers in economy and has a range up to 2,900 nmi (5,400 km).

It competed with the Boeing 737 Classic and the Airbus A320. Introduced in 1995, the MD-90 is a further stretch powered by IAE V2500 high-bypass turbofans, while the shorter MD-95, the later Boeing 717, was powered by Rolls-Royce BR715 engines. MD-80 production ended in 1999 after 1,191 were built.


Improved DC-9[edit]

Five-abreast coach seating and four-abreast premium seating

Douglas Aircraft developed the DC-9 in the 1960s as a short-range companion to their larger DC-8. The DC-9 was an all-new design, using two rear fuselage-mounted turbofan engines, and a T-tail.[2] The DC-9 has a narrow-body fuselage design with five-abreast seating, and holds 80 to 135 passengers depending on seating arrangement and aircraft version.[3] The DC-9 family was produced in 2441 units: 976 DC-9s, 1191 MD-80s, 116 MD-90s, and 155 Boeing 717s.[4]

The development of MD-80 series began in the 1970s as a lengthened, growth version of the DC-9-50, with a higher maximum take-off weight (MTOW) and a higher fuel capacity. Availability of newer versions of the Pratt & Whitney JT8D engine with higher bypass ratios drove early studies including designs known as Series 55, Series 50 (refanned Super Stretch), and Series 60. The design effort focused on the Series 55 in August 1977. With the projected entry into service in 1980, the design was marketed as the "DC-9 Series 80". Swissair launched the Series 80 in October 1977 with an order for 15 plus an option for five.[2]

Flight testing[edit]

An MD-80 of the type's launch customer, Swissair

The first MD-80, DC-9 line number 909, made its first flight on October 18, 1979.[5] Although two aircraft were substantially damaged in accidents, test flying was completed on August 25, 1980, when the first variant of MD-80, the JT8D-209-powered MD-81 (or DC-9-81), was certified under an amendment to the FAA type certificate for the DC-9. The flight-testing leading up to certification had involved three aircraft accumulating a total of 1,085 flying hours on 795 flights. The first delivery, to launch customer Swissair took place on September 13, 1980.[6][page needed]

As the MD-80 was not in effect a new aircraft, it continues to be operated under an amendment to the original DC-9 FAA aircraft type certificate (a similar case to the later MD-90 and Boeing 717 aircraft). The type certificate issued to the aircraft manufacturer carries the aircraft model designations exactly as it appears on the manufacturer's application, including use of hyphens or decimal points, and should match what is stamped on the aircraft's data or nameplate. What the manufacturer chooses to call an aircraft for marketing or promotional purposes is irrelevant to the airworthiness authorities. The first amendment to the DC-9 type certificate for the new MD-80 aircraft was applied as DC-9-81, which approved on August 26, 1980. All MD-80 models have since been approved under additional amendments to the DC-9 type certificate. In 1983, McDonnell Douglas decided that the DC-9-80 (Super 80) would be designated the MD-80. Instead of merely using the MD- prefix as a marketing symbol, an application was made to again amend the type certificate to include the MD-81, MD-82, and MD-83. This change was dated March 10, 1986, and the type certificate declared that although the MD designator could be used in parentheses, it must be accompanied by the official designation, for example: DC-9-81 (MD-81). All Long Beach aircraft in the MD-80 series thereafter had MD-81, MD-82, or MD-83 stamped on the aircraft nameplate.

Although not certified until October 21, 1987, McDonnell Douglas had already applied for models DC-9-87 and DC-9-87F on February 14, 1985. The third derivative was similarly officially designated DC-9-87 (MD-87), although no nameplates were stamped DC-9-87. For the MD-88, an application for a type certificate model amendment was made after the earlier changes, so there was not a DC-9-88, which was certified on December 8, 1987.[7] The FAA's online aircraft registry database shows the DC-9-88 and DC-9-80 designations in existence but unused.[8]


One of the final MD-80s built, an MD-83 for TWA, operating for American Airlines after the two companies merged

The second generation (later named MD-80s) was produced on a common line with the first generation DC-9s, with which it shares its line number sequence. After the delivery of 976 DC-9s and 108 MD-80s, McDonnell Douglas stopped DC-9 production. Hence, commencing with the 1,085th DC-9/MD-80 delivery, an MD-82 for VIASA in December 1982, all DC-9s produced were Series 80s/MD-80s.

In 1985, McDonnell Douglas, after years of negotiating attributed to Gareth C.C. Chang,[9] president of a McDonnell Douglas subsidiary, signed an agreement for joint production of MD-80s and MD-90s in the People's Republic of China. The agreement was for 26 aircraft, of which 20 were eventually produced along with two MD-90 aircraft.[10]

During 1991, MD-80 production had reached a peak of 12 per month, having been running at approximately 10 per month since 1987 and was expected to continue at this rate in the near term (140 MD-80s were delivered in 1991). As a result of the decline in the air traffic and a slow market response to the MD-90, MD-80 production was reduced, and 84 aircraft were handed over in 1992. A further production rate cut resulted in 42 MD-80s delivered during 1993 (3.5 per month) and 22 aircraft were handed over.[6][page needed] MD-80 production ended in 1999, with the final MD-80, an MD-83 registered as N984TW, being delivered to TWA.[11]

Derivative designs[edit]

Unducted fan demonstrator at Farnborough Airshow 1988

The MD-90 was developed from the MD-80 series and is a 5-foot-longer (1.5 m), updated version of the MD-88 with a similar electronic flight instrument system (EFIS) (glass cockpit), and improved, and quieter IAE V2500 high-bypass turbofan engines. The MD-90 program began in 1989, first flew in 1993, and entered commercial service in 1995.

Several other proposed variants never entered production. One proposal was the MD-94X, which was fitted with unducted fan turbofan engines. Previously, an MD-81 was used as a testbed for unducted fan engines, such as the General Electric GE36 and the Pratt & Whitney/Allison 578-DX.[12]

The MD-95 was developed to replace early DC-9 models, which were approaching 30 years of age. The project completely overhauled the original DC-9 into a modern airliner. It is slightly longer than the DC-9-30 and is powered by new Rolls-Royce BR715 engines. The MD-95 was renamed "Boeing 717" after the McDonnell Douglas-Boeing merger in 1997.


The MD-80 is a mid-size, medium-range airliner. The series featured a fuselage 14 ft 3 in (4.34 m) longer than the DC-9-50. The DC-9's wing design was enlarged by adding sections at the wing root and tip for a 28% larger wing. It was the second generation of the DC-9, originally called the DC-9-80 and the DC-9 Super 80.[13] It has two rear fuselage-mounted turbofan engines, small, highly efficient wings, and a T-tail. The aircraft has five-abreast seating in the coach class. The aircraft series was designed for frequent, short-haul flights for up to 172 passengers depending on airplane version and seating arrangement.[14]

The MD-80 versions have cockpit, avionics and aerodynamic upgrades along with the more powerful, more efficient and quieter JT8D-200 series engines, which are a significant upgrade over the smaller JT8D-15, -17, -11, and -9 series. The MD-80 series aircraft also have longer fuselages than their earlier DC-9 counterparts, as well as longer range. Some customers, such as American Airlines, still refer to the planes in fleet documentation as "Super 80". Comparable airliners to the MD-80 series include the Boeing 737-400 and Airbus A320.

Operational history[edit]

The MD-80 series has been used by airlines around the world. Major customers have included Aerolíneas Argentinas, Aeroméxico, Aeropostal Aerorepublica, Alaska Airlines, Alitalia, Allegiant Air, American Airlines, Aserca, Austral Líneas Aéreas, Austrian Airlines, Avianca, China Eastern Airlines, China Northern Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Finnair, Iberia, Insel Air, Japan Air System (JAS), Korean Air, Lion Air, Martinair Holland, Pacific Southwest Airlines (PSA), Reno Air, Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS), Spanair, Spirit Airlines, Swissair, Trans World Airlines and Meridiana.[15]

American Airlines was the first US major carrier to order the MD-80 when it leased twenty 142-seat aircraft from McDonnell Douglas in October 1982 to replace its Boeing 727-100s. It committed to 67 firm orders plus 100 options in March 1984, and in 2002 its fleet peaked at more than 360 aircraft, 30 % of the 1,191 produced. It announced that it would remove all of its MD-80s by 2019, replacing them with 737-800s.[16] The airline flew its final MD-80 revenue flights on September 3 and 4, 2019 before retiring its 26 remaining aircraft.[17] The final MD-80 flight on September 4, 2019 flew from Dallas/Fort Worth to Chicago–O'Hare.[18]

Due to the use of the aging JT8D engines, the MD-80 is not fuel efficient compared to the A320 or newer 737 models; it burns 1,050 US gal (4,000 l) of jet fuel per hour on a typical flight, while the larger Boeing 737-800 burns 850 US gal (3,200 l) per hour (19% reduction). In the 2000s many airlines began to retire the type. Alaska Airlines' tipping point in using the 737-800 was the $4 per gallon price of jet fuel the airline was paying by the summer of 2008; the airline stated that a typical Los Angeles-Seattle flight would cost $2,000 less, using a Boeing 737-800, than the same flight using an MD-80.[19]

In late March 2008 and again in early April 2008, an FAA safety audit of American Airlines forced the airline to ground all its MD-80 series aircraft (approximately 300) to inspect the wiring for one of the aircraft's hydraulic systems. This led to American canceling nearly 2,500 flights in March and over 3,200 in April. In addition, Delta Air Lines voluntarily inspected its own MD-80 fleet to ensure its 117 MD-80s were also operating within regulation. This resulted in Delta canceling 275 flights.[20][21]

Midwest Airlines announced on July 14, 2008, that it would retire all 12 of its MD-80s (used primarily on routes to the West Coast) by the fall.[22] The JT8D's comparatively lower maintenance costs due to simpler design help narrow the fuel cost gap.[23]

American Airlines made the final flight of its MD-80 jets on September 4, 2019. It was the Flight 80, departing at 9 am from Dallas-Fort Worth to O'Hare International Airport in Chicago. The retired planes were flown later to the New Mexico desert to be mothballed. Nicknamed the Mad Dog, also known as the Super 80, the MD-80 was the workhorse of the airline’s fleet throughout the 1980s and beyond.[24]

Delta Air Lines was expected to retire its MD-80 series jetliners at the end of 2020, but instead the airline began accelerating the fleet retirement in March 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic saw passenger levels drop critically low for airlines. On June 2, 2020, the final flights arrived Delta's home base and hub Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International in Atlanta from Dulles International Airport in Washington D.C. and George Bush International Airport in Houston.[25] This was the last scheduled passenger flight in the US of any McDonnell Douglas airliner.[26] Delta's MD-80 fleet was put into storage.[27]

Freighter conversions[edit]

In February 2010, Aeronautical Engineers Inc. (AEI) based in Miami, Florida announced it was beginning a freighter conversion program for the MD-80 series.[28] The converted aircraft use the "MD-80SF" designation. AEI was the first firm to receive a supplemental type certificate for the MD-80 family from the FAA in February 2013.[29] The first conversion was undertaken on an ex-American Airlines MD-82 aircraft, which was used as a testbed for the supplemental type.[30] The MD-80SF made its inaugural flight on 28 September 2012. AEI is certified to perform conversions on MD-81, MD-82, MD-83, and MD-88 aircraft. The launch customer for the conversion service is Everts Air Cargo.[28] In October 2015, the MD-80SF was approved by the EASA.[29] The first MD-80SF was delivered to Everts Air Cargo in February 2013.[31]


Douglas MD-80 Family, top to bottom: MD-81/82, MD-83/88, MD-87, MD-90

References: Flight International's Commercial Aircraft of the World 1981,[32] 1982,[33] 1983,[34] Jane's All the World's Aircraft 1994–1995,[35] and 2004–2005.[36]

Dimensions: The basic "long-body" MD-80 versions (MD-81, MD-82, MD-83, and MD-88) have an overall length of 147 ft 10 in (45.06 m), and a fuselage length of 136 feet 5 inches (41.58 m) that is 4.62 m longer than the DC-9-50 and 13.5 m longer than the initial DC-9, the Series 10. Wingspan was also increased by 4.4 m in comparison with earlier DC-9s at 107 feet 10.2 inches (32.873 m). The aircraft's passenger cabin, from cockpit door to aft bulkhead, is 101 feet 0 inches (30.78 m) long and, as with all versions of the DC-9, has a maximum cabin width (trim-to-trim) of 123.7 inches (3.14 m).[citation needed]

Powerplant: The initial production version of the MD-80 was the Pratt and Whitney JT8D-209 18,500 lbf (82 kN) thrust-powered MD-81. Later build MD-81s have been delivered with more powerful JT8D-217 and -219 engines.

APU: All versions of the MD-80 are equipped with an AlliedSignal (Garrett) GTCP85-98D APU as standard, which is located in the aft fuselage.

MD-83 Flight deck

Flight deck: The MD-80 is equipped with a two crew flightdeck similar to that on the DC-9 from which it evolved. Later models could be equipped to a higher specification with EFIS displays in place of the traditional analogue instruments, TCAS, windshear detection, etc. An EFIS retrofit to non-EFIS-equipped aircraft is possible.

Cabin: Typical passenger-cabin seating arrangements include:[6][page needed]

A mixed-class, with aft full-service galley, configuration for a total of 135 passengers with 12 first class, four-abreast 36-inch seat pitch.
123 economy-class passengers, five-abreast, 32-inch pitch.
All-economy layout for 155 passengers, five-abreast, 32- and 33-inch pitch.
A typical high-density layout is for 167 in one class (i.e., Airtours).

Undercarriage: All versions of the MD-80 are equipped with a tricycle undercarriage, featuring a twin nose unit with spray deflector and twin main units with rock deflectors. The MD-80T, developed for the Chinese, differs in that the main units are each fitted with a four-wheel double-main-bogey undercarriage to reduce pavement loading.[6][page needed][34]

Aerodynamic improvements: From mid-1987, new MD-87-style low-drag "beaver" tail cones were introduced on all series of MD-80s, reducing drag and improving fuel burn. Some operators have been modifying the old DC-9-style cones on earlier-build MD-80s to the new low-drag style. Scandinavian Airlines System has done this, citing the improved economics and cosmetics from the modification.[6][page needed]


Scandinavian Airlines MD-81 taking off

The MD-81 (originally known as the DC-9 Super 81 or DC-9-81) was the first production model of the MD-80, and apart from the MD-87, the differences between the various long-body MD-80 variants are relatively minor. The four long-body models (MD-81, MD-82, MD-83, and MD-88) only differ from each other in having different engine variants, fuel capacities, and weights. The MD-88 and later-build versions of the other models have more up-to-date flight decks featuring for example EFIS.

Performance: Standard maximum take-off weight (MTOW) on the MD-81 is 140,000 lb (63,500 kg) with the option to increase to 142,000 lb (64,400 kg). Fuel capacity is 5,840 US gallons (22,100 L), and typical range, with 155 passengers, is 1,565 nmi.[6][page needed]

MD-81 timeline
  • Formal launch: October 1977
  • First flight: October 18, 1979
  • FAA certification: August 25, 1980
  • First delivery: September 13, 1980 to Swissair
  • Entry into service: October 10, 1980 with Swissair on a flight from Zurich to Heathrow.
  • Last delivery: June 24, 1994 to JAL Domestic


Alitalia MD-82

Announced on April 16, 1979, the MD-82 (DC-9-82) was a new MD-80 variant with similar dimensions to those of the MD-81 but equipped with more powerful engines. The MD-82 was intended for operation from 'hot and high' airports but also offered greater payload/range when in use at 'standard' airfields.[37] American Airlines was the world's largest operator of the MD-82, with at one point over 300 MD-82s in the fleet.

Originally certified with 20,000 lbf (89 kN) thrust JT8D-217s, a -217A-powered MD-82 was certified in mid-1982 and became available that year. The new version featured a higher MTOW (149,500 lb (67,800 kg)), while the JT8D-217As had a guaranteed take-off thrust at temperatures up to 29 °C (84 °F) or 5,000 ft (1,500 m) altitude. The JT8D-217C engines were also offered on the MD-82, giving improved Thrust specific fuel consumption (TSFC). Several operators took delivery of the -219-powered MD-82s, while Balair ordered its MD-82s powered by the lower-thrust -209 engine.[6][page needed][34]

The MD-82 features an increased standard MTOW initially to 147,000 lb (66,700 kg), and this was later increased to 149,500 lb (67,800 kg). Standard fuel capacity is the same as that of the MD-81, 5,840 US gal (22,100 L), and typical range with 155 passengers is 2,050 nmi (3,800 km).[6][page needed][34]

MD-82 timeline
  • Announced/go-ahead: April 16, 1979
  • First flight: January 8, 1981
  • FAA certification: July 29, 1981
  • First delivery: August 5, 1981 to Republic Airlines
  • Entry into service: August, 1981 with Republic Airlines
  • Last delivery: November 17, 1997 to U-Land Airlines of Taiwan

The MD-82 was assembled under license in Shanghai by the Shanghai Aviation Industrial Corporation (SAIC, today's COMAC) beginning in November 1986; the sub-assemblies were delivered by McDonnell Douglas in kit form.[6][page needed] China had begun design on a cargo version, designated Y-13, but the project was subsequently canceled with the conclusion of the licensed assembly of the MD-82 and MD-90 in China.[38][39] In 2012, Aeronautical Engineers Inc. performed the first commercial-freighter conversion of an MD-82.[28]


Spanair MD-83

The MD-83 (DC-9-83) is a longer-range version of the basic MD-81/82 with higher weights, more powerful engines, and increased fuel capacity.

Powerplant: Compared to earlier models, the MD-83 is equipped with slightly more powerful 21,000 lbf (93 kN)-thrust Pratt and Whitney JT8D-219s as standard.

Performance: The MD-83 features increased fuel capacity as standard (to 6,970 US gal (26,400 L)), which is carried in two 565 US gal (2,140 L) auxiliary tanks located fore and aft of the center section. The aircraft also has higher operating weights, with MTOW increased to 160,000 lb (73,000 kg) and MLW to 139,500 lb (63,300 kg). Typical range for the MD-83 with 155 passengers is around 2,504 nautical miles (4,637 km). To cope with the higher operating weights, the MD-83 incorporates strengthened landing gear including new wheels, tires, and brakes, changes to the wing skins, front spar web and elevator spar cap, and strengthened floor beams and panels to carry the auxiliary fuel tanks. From MD-80 line number 1194, an MD-81 delivered in September 1985, it is understood that all MD-80s have the same basic wing structure and in theory could be converted to MD-83 standard.[6][page needed]

MD-83 timeline
  • Announced/go-ahead: January 31, 1983
  • First flight: December 17, 1984
  • FAA certification: October 17, 1985 (MTOW 149,500 lb (67,800 kg)). MTOW of 160,000 lb (73,000 kg) certified November 4, 1985.
  • First delivery: February, 1985 to Alaska Airlines – initially as -82 powered by -217A engines and certified as MD-82s. Alaska Airlines' first four aircraft were subsequently re-engined and re-certified as MD-83s.
  • Entry into service: February, 1985 with Alaska Airlines
  • Last delivery: December 28, 1999 to TWA


An Iberia MD-87

In January 1985, McDonnell Douglas announced it would produce a shorter-fuselage MD-80 variant, designated MD-87 (DC-9-87), which would seat between 109 and 130 passengers depending upon configuration. The designation was intended to indicate its planned date of entry into service, 1987.

Dimensions: With an overall length of 130 ft 5 in (39.75 m), the MD-87 is 17 ft 4 in (5.28 m) shorter than the other MD-80s but is otherwise generally similar to them, employing the same engines, systems and flight deck. The MD-87 features modifications to its tail, with a fin extension above the tailplane. It also introduced a new low-drag "beaver" tail cone, which became standard on all MD-80s.

Powerplant: The MD-87 was offered with either the 20,000 lbf (89 kN) thrust JT8D-217C or the 21,000 lbf (93 kN) thrust -219.

Performance: Two basic versions of the MD-87 were made available with either an MTOW of 140,000 lb (64,000 kg) and MLW of 128,000 lb (58,000 kg) or an MTOW of 149,000 lb (68,000 kg) and an MLW of 130,000 lb (59,000 kg). Fuel capacity is 5,840 US gal (22,100 l), increasing to 6,970 US gal (26,400 l) with the incorporation of two auxiliary fuel tanks. Typical range with 130 passengers, is 2,370 nmi (4,390 km) increasing to 2,900 nmi (5,400 km) with two auxiliary fuel tanks.

Cabin: The MD-87 provides typical mixed-class seating for 114 passengers or 130 in an all-economy layout (five-abreast 31 in and 32 in seat pitch). The maximum seating, exit-limited, is for 139 passengers.

MD-87 timeline
  • Announced/go-ahead: January 1985
  • First flight: December 4, 1986
  • FAA certification: October 21, 1987
  • First delivery: November 27, 1987 to Austrian Airlines[40]
  • Last delivery: March 27, 1992 to Scandinavian Airlines (SAS)


An Iberia MD-88 from behind

The MD-88 was the last variant of the MD-80, which was launched on January 23, 1986, on the back of orders and options from Delta Air Lines for a total of 80 aircraft.

The MD-88 is, depending on specification, basically similar to the MD-82 or MD-83 except it incorporates an EFIS cockpit instead of the more traditional analog flight deck of the other MD-80s. Other changes incorporated into the MD-88 include a wind-shear warning system and general updating of the cabin interior/trim. These detail changes are relatively minor and were written back as standard on the MD-82/83. The wind-shear warning system was offered as a standard option on all other MD-80s and has been made available for retrofitting on earlier aircraft including the DC-9.

Delta's initial eight aircraft were manufactured as MD-82s and upgraded to MD-88 specifications. MD-88 deliveries began in December 1987, and it entered service with Delta in January 1988. The final commercial passenger flight of an MD-88 within the United States took place on June 2, 2020, by a Delta flight from Washington Dulles to Atlanta.[41] In 2021, Michigan's USA Jet Airlines added MD-88s to their ad-hoc operations' freighter fleet.[42]

Performance: The MD-88 has the same weight, range, and airfield performance as the other long-body aircraft (MD-82 and MD-83) and is powered by the same engines. MDC quotes a typical range for the MD-88 as 2,050 nmi (3,800 km) with 155 passengers. Adding two additional auxiliary fuel tanks increases its 155-passenger range to 2,504 nmi (4,637 km) (similar to the MD-83). A Wall Street Journal article about the crash of Delta Air Lines Flight 1086 at New York City's LaGuardia Airport in March 2015 stated that "pilots and other safety experts have long known that when the MD-88's reversers are deployed, its rudder... sometimes may not be powerful enough to control deviations to the left or right from the center of a board investigators, among other things, are looking to see if this tendency played any role in the crash..".[43]

MD-88 timeline
  • Announced/go-ahead: January 23, 1986
  • First flight: August 15, 1987
  • FAA certification: December 8, 1987
  • First delivery: December 19, 1987, to Delta Air Lines
  • Entry into service: January 5, 1988, with Delta Air Lines
  • Last delivery: June 25, 1997, to Onur Air
  • Final commercial flight in the U.S.: June 2, 2020, by Delta Air Lines[41]

Undeveloped variants[edit]

MD-80 Advanced

McDonnell Douglas revealed at the end of 1990 that it would be developing an MD-80 improvement package with the intent to offer beginning in early 1991 for delivery from mid-1993. The aircraft became known as the MD-80 Advanced. The main improvement was the installation of Pratt & Whitney JT8D-290 engines with a 1.5 in larger diameter fan and would, it was hoped, allow a 6 dB reduction in exterior noise.

Due to lack of market interest, McDonnell Douglas dropped its plans to offer the MD-80 Advanced during 1991. Then in 1993, a "mark 2" MD-80 Advanced version reappeared with the modified JT8D-290 engines as previously proposed. The company also evaluated the addition of winglets on the MD-80. In late 1993, Pratt & Whitney launched a modified version of the JT8D-200 series, the -218B, which was being offered for the DC-9X re-engining program, and was also evaluating the possibility of developing a new JT8D for possible retrofit on the MD-80. The engine would also be available on new build MD-80s.

The 18,000 lbf (80 kN) to 19,000 lbf (85 kN) thrust -218B engine version shares a 98% commonality with the existing engine, with changes designed to reduce NOx, improve durability, and reduce noise levels by 3 dB. The 218B could be certified in early to mid-1996. The new engine, dubbed the "8000", was to feature a new fan of increased diameter (by 1.7 in), extended exhaust cone, a larger LP compressor, a new annular burner, and a new LP turbine and mixer. The initial thrust rating would be around 21,700 lbf (97 kN). A launch decision on the new engine was expected by mid-1994, but never occurred. The MD-80 Advanced was also to offer a new flight deck instrumentation package and a completely new passenger compartment design. These changes would be available by retrofit to existing MD-80s, and was forecast to enter service by July 1993.

The MD-80 Advanced was to incorporate the advanced flight deck of the MD-88, including a choice of reference systems, with an inertial reference system as standard fitting and optional attitude-heading equipment. It was to be equipped with an electronic flight instrument system (EFIS), an optional second flight management system (FMS), and light-emitting diode (LED) dot-matrix electronic engine and system displays. A Honeywell wind-shear computer and provision for an optional traffic-alert and collision avoidance system (TCAS) were also to be included. A new interior would have a 12% increase in overhead baggage space and stowage compartment lights that come on when the doors open, as well as new video system featuring drop-down LCD monitors above.[7]

The lack of market interest for the MD-80 Advanced during 1991 led McDonnell Douglas to drop its plans for the development.


In 1984–1985, McDonnell Douglas proposed a 173-passenger, 152 in (390 cm; 12.7 ft; 3.9 m) stretch of the MD-80 called the MD-89, which would use the International Aero Engines V2500 engine instead of the regular JT8D-200 series engines.[44] The MD-89 was intended to have two 57 in (140 cm; 4.8 ft; 1.4 m) fuselage plugs forward of the wing and one 38 in (97 cm; 3.2 ft; 0.97 m) fuselage plug aft of the wing.[45] IAE and McDonnell Douglas announced an agreement to jointly market this 160 ft 6 in (48.9 m) derivative on February 1, 1985, but the concept was subsequently deprioritized in favor of the proposed MD-91 and MD-92 derivatives using ultra-high bypass (UHB) propfan engines. By 1989, however, lack of airline orders for the UHB derivatives caused McDonnell Douglas to return to the IAE V2500 engines to launch its MD-90 series aircraft.[2]


Starting in late 1986, McDonnell Douglas began offering the MD-90X, a 25 ft (7.6 m) stretch of the MD-80. Unlike the MD-91 and MD-92 derivatives and the clean-sheet MD-94X proposal, the MD-90X would still use turbofan engines. The MD-90X would carry 180 passengers.[46] Powered by the 26,500 lbf thrust (118 kN) CFM56-5 or V2500, the MD-90X replaced the MD-89 as McDonnell Douglas's proposed new turbofan offering, and it was designed to compete with the Boeing 757.[47]


When the United States Navy wanted to replace its 125 Lockheed P-3 Orion anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft, McDonnell Douglas offered the P-9D, which would be a propfan-powered version of the MD-87 or MD-91. The 25,000 lbf (110 kN) thrust engine would be either the General Electric GE36 or the Pratt & Whitney/Allison 578-DX.[48] Lockheed won the competition with its P-3 derivative, the Lockheed P-7, but the replacement program was later canceled.


The MD-90-30 is a stretched variant with two more powerful V2500 engines. The MD-90ER extended range version was also offered.

The MD-95 was developed as a replacement for the earlier DC-9-30. After McDonnell Douglas and Boeing merged it was renamed and produced as the Boeing 717.


LASER Airlines is the largest passenger operator.
An MD-87 modified for aerial firefighting operated by Erickson Aero Tanker

There were 148 MD-80 series aircraft in service as of May 2022 with operators including USA Jet Airlines (16), Aeronaves TSM (15), and other carriers with smaller fleets.[49] In addition, several MD-87s have been converted for aerial firefighting use by Aero Air/Erickson Aero Tanker.[50][51] American Airlines retired its MD-80 series aircraft after making its last commercial flight on September 4, 2019.[52] Delta Air Lines retired its MD-88 and MD-90 aircraft on June 2, 2020.[53]


Type Total 1999 1998 1997 1996 1995 1994 1993 1992 1991 1990 1989 1988 1987 1986 1985 1984 1983 1982 1981 1980
MD-81 132 3 3 5 15 5 8 6 4 9 8 1 1 11 48 5
MD-82 539 2 2 13 8 14 18 48 48 37 51 50 64 55 43 50 23 13
MD-82T 30 1 1 2 6 8 6 4 2
MD-83 265 26 8 9 10 5 11 12 25 26 30 26 26 31 12 8
MD-87 75 5 13 25 15 14 3
MD-88 150 5 13 29 32 23 25 19 4
MD-80 series 1,191 26 8 16 12 18 23 43 84 140 139 117 120 94 85 71 44 51 34 61 5

Accidents and incidents[edit]

As of February 2018, the MD-80 series has been involved in 87 incidents,[55] including 41 hull-loss accidents,[56] with 1,446 fatalities of occupants.[57][58]

Accidents with fatalities[edit]

  • On December 1, 1981, Inex-Adria Aviopromet Flight 1308, MD-81 (YU-ANA), crashed into Corsica's Mt. San Pietro during a holding pattern for landing at Campo dell'Oro Airport, Ajaccio, France. All 180 passengers and crew were killed. This was the first-ever fatal incident involving the MD-80 series and also the deadliest.[59]
  • On August 16, 1987, Northwest Airlines Flight 255, an MD-82, crashed shortly after takeoff from Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport because the flight crew failed to use the taxi checklist to ensure that flaps and slats were extended for takeoff, according to the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). All crew and passengers were killed, with the exception of a four-year-old girl, Cecelia Cichan. Two people on the ground were also killed.[60][61][62]
  • On June 12, 1988, Austral Líneas Aéreas Flight 46, MD-81 (N1003G), crashed short of the runway at Libertador General José de San Martín Airport, in Posadas, Misiones. All 22 passengers and crew were killed.[63]
  • On October 26, 1993, China Eastern Airlines Flight 5398, MD-82 (B-2103), overran the runway on landing at Fuzhou Yixu Airport in poor visibility due to pilot error, killing two of 80 on board.
  • On November 13, 1993, China Northern Airlines Flight 6901, MD-82 (B-2141) crashed before landing at Ürümqi Diwopu International Airport in Xinjiang, China, killing twelve of the 102 passengers and crew on board.[64]
  • On July 6, 1996, Delta Air Lines Flight 1288, an MD-88, attempting to take off from Pensacola Regional Airport experienced an uncontained, catastrophic turbine engine failure that caused debris from the front compressor hub of the number one left engine to penetrate the left aft fuselage. The penetrating debris left two passengers dead and two severely injured; all were from the same family. The pilot aborted takeoff, and the airplane stopped on the runway.
  • On June 1, 1999, American Airlines Flight 1420, an MD-82, attempting to land in severe weather conditions at Little Rock Airport, overshot the runway and crashed into the banks of the Arkansas River. Eleven people, including the captain, died.
  • On January 31, 2000, Alaska Airlines Flight 261, an MD-83, crashed in the Pacific Ocean because it lost horizontal stabilizer control.[65] All 88 passengers and crew on board were killed. Following the crash, an improperly maintained Acme nut and jackscrew recovered from the aircraft were found to be excessively worn.[66] An airworthiness directive (AD) was issued by the FAA requiring more frequent inspections and lubrication of the jackscrew assembly.[67]
  • On October 8, 2001, Scandinavian Airlines Flight 686, MD-87 (SE-DMA) collided with a Cessna Citation CJ2 jet (D-IEVX) during takeoff at Linate Airport, Milan, Italy. The Linate Airport disaster left 118 people dead and remains the deadliest air disaster in Italy. The cause of the accident was a misunderstanding between air traffic controllers and the Cessna jet, complicated by inoperative ground movement radar at the time of the accident. The SAS crew had no role in causing the accident.
  • On May 7, 2002, China Northern Airlines Flight 6136, MD-82 (B-2138), from Beijing to Dalian, crashed into Dalian Bay near Dalian after the pilot reported "fire on board". All 112 people on board were killed. Investigators determined that the fire had been set by a suicidal passenger.
  • On November 30, 2004, Lion Air Flight 583, an MD-82, crashed on landing at Adi Sumarmo Airport in Surakarta, Indonesia and overran the end of the runway, killing 25 of 163 on board.
  • On August 16, 2005, West Caribbean Airways Flight 708, an MD-82, crashed in a mountainous region in northwest Venezuela killing all 152 passengers and eight crew.[68]
  • On September 16, 2007, One-Two-GO Airlines Flight 269, an MD-82, crashed at the side of the runway and exploded after an apparent attempt to execute a go-around in bad weather at Phuket International Airport in Phuket, Thailand. Of the 130 passengers and crew on board, 90 were killed.[69][70]
  • On November 30, 2007, Atlasjet Flight 4203, an MD-83, crashed in the southwestern province of Isparta, Turkey, killing all 57 passengers and seven crew.[71] The cause of the crash was attributed to pilot spatial disorientation.
  • On August 20, 2008, Spanair Flight 5022, MD-82 (EC-HFP), from Madrid's Barajas Airport crashed shortly after takeoff on a flight to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands. The MD-82 had 162 passengers and ten crew on board, of whom 18 survived. The crash was caused by attempting to take off with the flaps and slats retracted. The flight crew omitted the "set flaps and slats" item in both the After Start checklist and the Takeoff Imminent checklist and the takeoff warning system (TOWS), which should have emitted an audio warning on the runway when the throttles were advanced for takeoff with the airplane wrongly configured for takeoff did not sound.[72]
  • On June 3, 2012, Dana Air Flight 992, MD-83 (5N-RAM), crashed into a two-story building in Lagos, Nigeria, caused by engine failure. All 153 passengers and crew on board were killed, as well as 10 on the ground.[73][74][75]
  • On July 24, 2014, Air Algérie Flight 5017, MD-83, registration EC-LTV, a scheduled flight from Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, to Algiers, Algeria, operated with an MD-83 leased from Swiftair. The aircraft crashed southeast of Gossi, Mali, about 50 minutes after takeoff. All 110 passengers and six crew were killed.[76]

Hull losses[edit]

Delta Air Lines Flight 1086 resting on the seawall following its overrun at La Guardia
  • On December 27, 1991, SAS Flight 751, an MD-81 (OY-KHO, Dana Viking), crash-landed at Gottröra, Sweden. In the initial climb, both engines ingested ice broken loose from the wings (although they had been properly deiced before departure). The ice damaged the compressor blades causing compressor stall. The stall further caused repeated engine surges that finally destroyed both engines, leaving the aircraft with no thrust. The aircraft landed in a snowy field and broke into three parts. No fire occurred, and all aboard survived.
  • On March 16, 2007, Kish Air MD-82 (LZ-LDD) leased from Bulgarian Air Charter was damaged beyond repair in a hard landing accident at Kish Island Airport. There were no fatalities.[77]
  • On January 24, 2012, Swiftair Flight 94, an MD-83 (EC-JJS), suffered a wingtip strike while landing at Kandahar Airport, Afghanistan. Although there were no injuries to the 92 passengers and crew on board, the starboard wing sustained a broken main spar, and the aircraft was damaged beyond economic repair. It was consequently scrapped at Kandahar.[78]
  • On March 5, 2015, Delta Air Lines Flight 1086, an MD-88 (N909DL), skidded off the runway on landing at LaGuardia Airport, New York in snowy weather, suffering severe damage. A few minor injuries occurred during evacuation via the emergency chutes.[79] Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board were reportedly focusing on the aircraft's braking system and rudder.[43]
  • On March 8, 2017, Ameristar Charters Flight 9363, MD-83 (N786TW), overran the end of runway 23L at Willow Run Airport in Ypsilanti, Michigan, after rejecting a takeoff at very high speed due to a jammed elevator which could not be detected prior to the attempted takeoff.[80] Only one injury occurred among the 116 on board, but the aircraft's belly and wings were substantially damaged after its landing gear collapsed during the overrun, and it was eventually written off.[81]
  • On June 14, 2018, Bravo Airways Flight 4406, an MD-83 (UR-CPR), slid off the runway on landing at Igor Sikorsky International Airport following an unstable approach; all 176 on board survived.[82]
  • On April 4, 2019, Delta Flight 1276, an MD-88 (N977DL), was struck by a pushback tug while taxiing at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport; no casualties.[83]
  • On January 27, 2020, Caspian Airlines Flight 6936, an MD-83, overran the end of the Mahshahr Airport's runway 13 with 144 people on board. There were two injuries; the aircraft received substantial damage.[84][clarification needed]
  • On October 19, 2021, an MD-87, registration N987AK,[85] crashed on take-off from Houston Executive Airport. All 21 people on board survived but the aircraft was destroyed by a post-crash fire. During examination of the intact tail section, it was found that both left and right elevators were jammed in a trailing edge down position. The aircraft was chartered to fly the passengers to Boston for a Red Sox baseball game.[86][87][88]
  • On June 21, 2022, Red Air Flight 203, an MD-82 (reg. HI1064), suffered a landing gear collapse and runway excursion upon landing at Miami International Airport, causing the right wing to catch fire. There were three minor injuries among the 140 passengers and crew, but the aircraft was written off.[89]

Aircraft on display[edit]


Comparison of DC-9, Boeing 717 and different MD-80 versions
Airplane characteristics[101]
Variant MD-81/82/83/88 MD-87
Cockpit crew Two
1-class seats[102] 155Y @32-33" (max 172) 130Y @31-33" (max 139)
2-class seats[102] 143: 12J @ 36" + 131Y@ 31-34" 117: 12J+105Y
Length 147 ft 10 in (45.06 m) 130 ft 5 in (39.75 m)
Wing 107 ft 8 in (32.82 m) span, 1,209 sq ft (112.3 m2) area, aspect ratio: 9.6
Tail height 29 ft 7 in (9.02 m) 30 ft 4 in (9.25 m)
Width 131.6 in / 334.3 cm fuselage, 122.5 in / 311.2 cm cabin
Cargo 1,253 cu ft (35.5 m3)
-83/88: 1,013 cu ft (28.7 m3)
938 cu ft (26.6 m3)
Empty weight 77,900–79,700 lb (35,300–36,200 kg) 73,300 lb (33,200 kg)
MTOW -81: 140,000 lb (63,500 kg)
-82: 149,500 lb (67,800 kg)
-83/88: 160,000 lb (72,600 kg)
140,000–149,500 lb (63,500–67,800 kg)
Fuel capacity 5,850 US gal (22,100 L) -83/88: 7,000 US gal (26,000 L)
Engines (×2) Pratt & Whitney JT8D-200 series
Thrust (×2) 18,500–21,000 lbf (82–93 kN)
Long-range cruise Mach 0.76 (448 kn; 830 km/h)[103]
High-speed cruise Mach 0.8 (472 kn; 873 km/h)[102]
Range[a] -81: 1,800 nmi (3,300 km) @ 137 pax
-82: 2,050 nmi (3,800 km) @ 155 pax
-83/88: 2,550 nmi (4,720 km) @ 155 pax
2,400–2,900 nmi (4,400–5,400 km)
Takeoff[b] 7,200–8,000 ft (2,200–2,400 m) 7,500 ft (2,300 m)
  1. ^ ISA, 200nm alt + 45 mn LRC reserves
  2. ^ MTOW, sea level, ISA

See also[edit]

Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era

Related lists


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External links[edit]