The Douglas Twinjet Airliner Family

Dream no small dream; it lacks magic. Dream large. Then make the dream real.
Donald Wills Douglas

More than half a century ago, in 1965 the Douglas Aircraft company introduced the DC-9. It was the second jet airliner of the company and unlike the previous DC-8 it was aimed more at the short to medium-range market. The Family would go on to be very successful with just under 2500 units being produced over the span of the next 41 years, making it the third-most popular airliner family to date.

Photo of Me

In this video I will be looking at the evolution from the DC-9 to the 717 and I will be explaining advantages and disadvantages, particularly in respect to its main competitors, which should give you a reasonably good idea on why the aircraft was so popular in the first place and how it managed such a long service career. This is the first video on the channel, just as this is the first subpage designed to work together with a video for me. If you watch the video carefully, you will probably notice the way some things changed over the course of making the video. After all, it has been more than a year ever since I started working on the video.

Typical Capacites:

Base Model: DC-9-10

90 Pax

MD-80 Standard Cabin:

155 Pax

Largest Version: MD-90-30

172 Pax
Aircraft Built
Years in Production
Major Variants
Maximum Range

"They're brilliant aircraft. Anyone who has them wants more of them"

Alan Joyce, Qantas CEO on the B717, late October 2017

Typical Usage

Initially the DC-9-Series had a smaller range and capacity than the competing Boeing 727, which led to most of the initial aircraft serving in a role comparable to modern regional jets. Over time the aircraft grew both in range and size, making intercontinental service possible and replacing many 727 fleets due to lessened operating costs and better performance.

At the time of introduction, the DC-9, MD-80, MD-90 and B717 all were the quietest aircraft of their respective class, they furthermore featured good efficiency and some operational advantages due to the aircraft layout. The 717 was marketed by Boeing as an alternative to the Airbus A318 and the Fokker F70/F100, and proved to be reasonably successfull despite being a aircraft from a then defunct manufacturer and featuring only one capacity version

Due to noise restrictions the usage of the (initally) quiet MD-80/MD-90/B717 could further increase airline profit due to lessened noise charges and a larger flight allowance for the type, including airports that forbid the use of rival aircraft.

Most aircraft were used at ranges up to 2500km/1350nm, although ranges up to 5556km/3000nm were possible including ETOPS. Long Range ETOPS service was uncommon as the maximum range allowed no major direct transatlantic routes (although multi-stop routes were flown) and only short Pacific Island Routes such as SFO-HNL, and only on the MD-83, 87 and MD90-30ER. Similar to the 737CL versions the DC-9 through MD-80 Versions were designed for short-haul routes of an average flight time of 1hr, which is also reflected in the design service goals (50000 hrs and flight cycles for the MD-80). Due to low weight and comparatively good climb performance the DC-9 and MD-80 could be used as an alternative to later 737NGs and A320s given that the slightly higher fuel costs were offset by lower operating costs.

The aircraft proved to be very reliable compared to competitors and can be modernized extensively increasing useful life. The comparatively higher Design Service Lifespan allows the aircraft to be used longer without special measures needing to be taken.

"The MD-90 performs exceptionally well at hot and high-altitude airports, making it possible for us to schedule this aircraft for operations throughout North America—for short-haul and longer routes. That flexibility is crucial in an ever-changing industry."

Russ Heil, Delta senior vice president of technical operations


30.10.2020: Almost all of the DC-9, MD-80 and all of the MD-90 fleets have been put out of active service. The DC-9 Family was last used in a larger fleet by Delta in 2014. The large MD-80 fleets of American Airlines and Delta were retired in 2019 and 2020 respectively, such was Delta's MD-90 fleet. The current reduced demand played a role in the retirement of the remainder of Delta's MD-80/MD-90 fleet, however the retirement of the MD-80 fleet was already well underway before that.

There are no major plans of retiring the 717, demand for the aircraft and competitiveness to other aircraft (mainly the Bombardier C-Series/A220) is sufficiently high. Delta plans on using a joint B717/A220 fleet at least until 2030. The production of all variants has ceased with the last 717 being delivered in May 2006. While a low demand for the 717 still exists the production of the type in Long Beach will not return as Dinesh Keskar, Boeing senior VP of sales in Asia Pacific and India points out: “These guys keep begging me to give them more 717s, but that era over and it’s not going to happen.”

"For what we do here in Hawaii, there’s no better aircraft built today or even on the drawing board."

Mark Dunkerley, Hawaiian Airlines CEO on the B717, October 2017

Behind the Scenes / How this video was made

I began this video with research in the internet, later on I also incorporated most available books into the research. I noticed that some of the content in the internet may be unreliable due to bias either in favour or against the aircraft/manufacturer. This seemed to be less prevalent in books. The segments for components and component groups were based on the ATA 100 chapters, although I some parts fell into several chapters.

Most of the footage of this video was made by myself either in Blender (Version 2.83-2.9) or X-Plane (Version 11.3-11.5). While rendering in Blender changes to the model or scene can be made very quickly, the creation of a photorealistic scene proved troublesome. In general the normal framerate of X-Plane 11 is not close to the 60fps of the video. In order to avoid this the internal recording function was used. Main disadvantages include being limited to using the replay mode in order to avoid time acceleration, no sound and very large file sizes. Furthermore a model of good quality is necessary to appear convincing. In this case I could use the exterior model of the MD-80 introduced in X-plane 11 in most cases, there was already a mod for the MD-90 (Which for all I know only changes the engine assembly and adds the prototype livery) and I could make a MD-87 myself. There was a DC-9-30 and a B717 available which whilst not holding up to modern standards still was mostly up for the task. Modern simulators such as X-Plane 11 offer very good graphics and realistic scenery out of the box which simplifies the rendering process. I've since come to like the choice of artistic style and possibilities when generating your own video and as such may keep it. This generated footage was supplemented by real footage under the Creative Commons License. Finding proper footage of this aircraft was sometimes problematic due to low resolution and interlaced video. Furthermore finding videos on details of the aircraft was often complicated, as was finding videos that could legally be used for the purposes of this video. I recorded the voicelines with my phone, the video was built and rendered in Shotcut (Version 20.09.27).

"The MD-90 will improve our cost performance by saving fuel and carrying larger loads while minimizing environmental impact through less noise and reduced emissions."

Russ Heil, Delta senior vice president of technical operations, March 1995.

Sources, Clarifications, Known Issues and Corrections

Currently there are no clarifications

Known issues:
-3D Models used in the videos are not always accurate (e.g. MD-90 Vert. Stab. Extension).

Currently there are no corrections

Book Sources

Müller, P. (1980). Die DC-9 Story. Vienna, Austria: Europa Verlag GesmbH Wien.

Pearcy, A. (1999). McDonnell Douglas MD-80 & MD-90. Osceola, USA: MBI Publishing Company.

Badrocke, M., & Gunston, B., OBE. (1999). The Illustrated History of McDonnell Douglas Aircraft. Oxford, United Kingdom: Osprey Publishing Limited.

Birtles, P. (2002). Douglas DC-9. Shrewsbury, United Kingdom: Airlife Publishing Limited.

Paper Sources

Schaufele, R., & Ebeling, A. (1968). Aerodynamic Design of the DC-9 Wing and High-Lift System. SAE Transactions, 76, 2572-2583. Retrieved October 27, 2020, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/44562806

Way, W. (1973). Advantages of Aircraft System Maturity. SAE Transactions, 82, 3012-3021. Retrieved October 27, 2020, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/44721347

Stitt, L., & Medeiros, A. (1974). Reduction of JT8D Powered Aircraft Noise By Engine Refanning. SAE Transactions, 83, 1859-1870. Retrieved October 27, 2020, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/44734487

Antl, R., & McAulay, J. (1980). Improved Components for Engine Fuel Savings. SAE Transactions, 89, 3382-3396. Retrieved October 27, 2020, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/44729926

Coussens, T., & Tullis, R. (1980). Propfan Propulsion for Commercial Air Transports. SAE Transactions, 89, 2290-2296. Retrieved October 27, 2020, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/44633841

Aircraft Accident Report NTSB-AAR-82-2. (2002). Washington D,C., USA: National Transportation Safety Board. Retrieved October 27, 2020, from https://www.ntsb.gov/investigations/AccidentReports/Reports/AAR8202.pdf

Revell, J., Balena, F., & Prydz, R. (1982). Cabin Noise Weight Penalty Requirements for a High-Speed Propfan-Powered Aircraft - A Progress Report. SAE Transactions, 91, 4264-4275. Retrieved October 27, 2020, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/44634425

Scott, P. (1986). The Cost Effectiveness of Weight Reduction by Advanced Material Substitution. SAE Transactions, 95, 1470-1476. Retrieved October 27, 2020, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/44470655

Hamersley, J. (1987). Flying the DC-9. Aerospace Historian, 34(4), 236-245. Retrieved October 27, 2020, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/44524289

Kressly, A., & Parker, A. (1995). Development of the McDonnell Douglas MD-90. SAE Transactions, 104, 1612-1623. Retrieved October 27, 2020, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/44612076

Fruchtnicht, H. (2002). MD-80 Flight Manual

Wood, R., & Howells, P. (2002). Head-Up Displays [PDF]. Boca Raton, USA: CRC Press LLC.

Ozcan, K. & Nemlioglu, S. (2006). In-cabin noise levels during commercial aircraft flights. Canadian Acoustics - Acoustique Canadienne, 34, 31-35. Retrieved October 27, 2020, from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/277072792

Babitt, R. (2010). Aging Airplane Program: Widespread Fatigue Damage; Final Rule Washington D.C., USA: Department of Transportation

Lovegren, J., & Hansmann, J. (2011). Estimation of Potential Aircraft Fuel Burn Reduction in Cruise via Speed and Altitude Optimization Strategies. Cambridge, USA: MIT International Center for Air Transportation (ICAT). Retrieved October 27, 2020, from https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/4426749.pdf

Pietrak, J. (2012). Noise Database [Excel].

Nash, M. (2014). Flight Standardization Board (FSB) Report McDonnell-Douglas DC9 McDonnell Douglas / DC9-10 through -87, MD80, MD88, MD90, MD-90EFD, 717-200, MD-87 Fire Tanker. Lakewood, USA: Federal Aviation Administration. Retrieved October 27, 2020, from https://fsims.faa.gov/wdocs/fsb/dc-9_rev8.pdf

"The Wright Brothers created the single greatest cultural force since the invention of writing. The airplane became the first World Wide Web, bringing people, languages, ideas, and values together."

Bill Gates, July 2014

Internet Sources

Madison, R. (1984). The MD-80: hydraulics simple, reliable, and easy to operate. Retrieved October 27, 2020, from https://www.hydraulicspneumatics.com/applications/aerospace/article/21883977/the-md80-hydraulics-simple-reliable-and-easy-to-operate

Jenkinson, L., Simpkin, P., & Rhodes, D. (2001a). Civil Jet Aircraft Design Data A: Aircraft Data File. Retrieved October 27, 2020, from https://booksite.elsevier.com/9780340741528/appendices/data-a/default.htm

Jenkinson, L., Simpkin, P., & Rhodes, D. (2001b). Civil Jet Aircraft Design Data B: Engine Data File. Retrieved October 27, 2020, from https://booksite.elsevier.com/9780340741528/appendices/data-b/default.htm

Note: I have found some data in the above two sites that appears to be very wrong, perhaps as a result of adapting the book. As such I used these sources for cross-checking but not much more.

Meier, N. (2005). Civil Turbojet/Turbofan Specifications Retrieved October 27, 2020, from http://www.jet-engine.net/civtfspec.html

Radosta, P. (2008). Wie sicher ist die MD 80? Retrieved October 27, 2020, from https://www.austrianwings.info/2008/08/wie-sicher-ist-die-md-80

Hingtgen, D. (2010). Ultimate DC-9/MD-80/MD-90/MD-95 Guide Retrieved October 27, 2020, from https://www.airlinercafe.com/page.php?id=396

Lamury, K. (2016). Boeing 717 and Boeing 717 Specs Retrieved October 27, 2020, from https://modernairliners.com/boeing-717-and-boeing-717-specs/

Breiting, P. (2016). MD-80.com - Onlinedienst für die MD-80, MD-90, Boeing 717 und DC-9. Retrieved October 27, 2020, from https://www.md-80.com/

Zhang, B. (2017). How the Boeing jet no one wanted became the plane airlines scour the planet for Retrieved October 27, 2020, from https://www.businessinsider.com.au/boeing-717-jet-delta-hawaiian-qantas-2017-12

Aviation Safety Network (2019). Aircraft type index. Retrieved October 27, 2020, from http://aviation-safety.net/database/types/

Airbus. (2020). Extended Service Goal (ESG) Retrieved October 27, 2020, from https://services.airbus.com/en/flight-operations/system-upgrades/operations-extension/extended-service-goal-esg.html

Entwicklungsgeschichte von der Douglas DC-9 bis zur Boeing 717. (2020). Retrieved October 27, 2020, from https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entwicklungsgeschichte_von_der_Douglas_DC-9_bis_zur_Boeing_717

McDonnell Douglas DC-9 (2020). Retrieved October 27, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McDonnell_Douglas_DC-9

McDonnell Douglas MD-80 (2020). Retrieved October 27, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McDonnell_Douglas_MD-80

McDonnell Douglas MD-90. (2020). Retrieved October 27, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McDonnell_Douglas_MD-90

Boeing 717 (2020). Retrieved October 27, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_717

Boeing 727 (2020). Retrieved October 27, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_727

Boeing 737 (2020). Retrieved October 27, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_737

Boeing 737 Classic (2020). Retrieved October 27, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_737_Classic

Boeing 737 Next Generation (2020). Retrieved October 27, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_737_Next_Generation

BAC One-Eleven (2020). Retrieved October 27, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BAC_One-Eleven

Airbus A320 family (2020). Retrieved October 27, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Airbus_A320_family

Dassault Mercure (2020). Retrieved October 27, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dassault_Mercure

Pratt & Whitney JT8D (2020). Retrieved October 27, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pratt_%26_Whitney_JT8D

CFM International CFM56 (2020). Retrieved October 27, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CFM_International_CFM56

IAE V2500 (2020). Retrieved October 27, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IAE_V2500

Planespotters (2020a). McDonnell Douglas DC-9/MD-80 Series/MD-90 Production List. Retrieved October 27, 2020, from https://www.planespotters.net/production-list/McDonnell-Douglas/DC-9-MD-80-MD-90?sort=ln

Planespotters (2020b). Delta Air Lines Fleet Details and History. Retrieved October 27, 2020, from https://www.planespotters.net/airline/Delta-Air-Lines

Media Sources


Quastler, I. (1986). 727 & DC-9 [Photograph]. Quastler019, San Diego Air and Space Museum, San Diego. Retrieved October 27, 2020, from https://www.flickr.com/photos/sdasmarchives/4824676014/in/album-72157626485975236/ [P1]

00065977 (1986). [Photograph]. San Diego Air and Space Museum, San Diego. Retrieved October 27, 2020, from https://www.flickr.com/photos/sdasmarchives/4589820881/in/photostream/ [P2]

00065978 (1986). [Photograph]. San Diego Air and Space Museum, San Diego. Retrieved October 27, 2020, from https://www.flickr.com/photos/sdasmarchives/4590440838/in/photostream/ [P3]

Landis, T. (2007). ED07-0256-26 [Photograph]. NASA Dryden Flight Research Center Photo Collection, NASA. https://www.dfrc.nasa.gov/Gallery/Photo/DC-8/Large/ED07-0256-26.jpg [P4]

Greyling, L. (unknown). Dc-3 Dakota At Air Show [Photograph]. Retrieved October 27, 2020, from https://www.publicdomainpictures.net/en/view-image.php?image=84994&picture=dc-3-dakota-at-air-show [P5]

McDonnell Douglas DC-9-32, HB-IFH "Opfikon" auf dem Rollweg in Zürich-Kloten (1986). [Photograph]. ETH-Bibliothek Zürich, Swissair. Retrieved October 27, 2020, from http://doi.org/10.3932/ethz-a-000251264 [P6]

Scavini, J. (2012).Layout of MD80, MD90, DC9, B717. Side, top, front, section. [Graphic]. Retrieved October 27, 2020, from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:MD82v1.0.png [P7]

Halsey, I. (2017). KLM_DC9_Amsterdam_Holland [Photograph]. Retrieved October 27, 2020, from https://www.flickr.com/photos/iancvt55/26518026789/in/photolist-GpiPur [P8]

Other Illustrations were taken from the book sources listed beforehand. Many Graphics were used by multiple Books and Sources, as such I assume that they originally stem from the manufacturer.


Ozark (1966). Commercial [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ItYtYNJmzDU [V1]

artzeug (2012). Swissair Sixties [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E5Ykysk9Zu0 [V2]

Capactiance (2007). MD80 Hard Landing [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=COsT6DqkTDc [V3]

Van Valkenburg, D. (2012). DC9 Flight Test [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lLVc8zyad2o [V4]

McDonnell Douglas (1983). McDonnell Douglas MD-80 Promo Film [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fMyHz33X5Ko [V5]

McDonnell Douglas (1984). McDonnell Douglas MD-80 promotional video [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lre_O07S6fI [V6]

McDonnell Douglas (1994). McDonnell Douglas MD-90 Promo Film [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vl4dKpCJfGQ [V7]

PDX Aviation (2017). Delta Air Lines 717-200 [N607AT] Landing Portland Airport (PDX) [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fV2OVraNhSE [V8]

Nederbrock, M. (2013). Fedex Plane Lands at Merrill Field in Anchorage Alaska [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dNYqIl7P9RQ [V9]


kaichinshih (2016a). Uni Air Uni Air Airbus A321 211 2015 [3d Model]. Retrieved from https://www.cgtrader.com/free-3d-models/aircraft/commercial/uni-air-uni-air-airbus-a321-211-2015

kaichinshih (2016b). Far Eastern Air Transport FAT MD 82 83 2013 [3d Model]. Retrieved from https://www.cgtrader.com/free-3d-models/aircraft/commercial/far-eastern-air-transport-fat-md-82-83-2013

The individual parts of the simulator data are complicated, if you are interested in the origin of something specific let me know and I will see if I can find out.

Temperatures are in °C

"I built mailplanes because I couldn't sell people the dream I had from the beginning - large commercial transports. I knew the day was coming when everybody would want to travel by air, but I had to wait."

Donald Wills Douglas

Do note, that I am not particularly versed in designing websites by myself. I will try to implement new features down the line and some things currently might not work completely on the mobile website.
Oh, and I'd love to hear your feedback!