The McDonnell Douglas MD-80 airplane completed its first flight on October 18, 1979. It entered the market in 1980 as a mid-size, medium-range airliner designed to succeed the DC-9 as well as compete against Boeing‘s popular 737-400. The airplane’s interior accommodated a row of five passengers each in coach seating, and could carry up to 172 passengers in total, depending on how the seats were arranged and the version of the MD-80.
At first, McDonnell Douglas marketed the plane as the DC-9-80, or DC-9 Super 80, however, the designation was eventually changed to the shorter “MD-80.” Though production of the plane ended in 2000, the MD-80 remains in service today on behalf of several major commercial airlines, including a number based in Europe, China, Mexico, Korea, and the United States.
From 1979 to 1999, McDonnell Douglas built 1,159 of the MD-80 aircraft at the Long Beach Division of Boeing Commercial Airplanes. A second version of the MD-80 was soon introduced, and 117 of both aircraft types were manufactured between 1995 and 2000. The MD-80 versions included MD-81/82/83/88 and the MD-87 which had a shorter fuselage than the others in the series.
During their production life, all MD-80 variants received upgrades that included avionics, several cockpit improvements, and aerodynamic streamlining. Operation of the MD-80 series was eased with the replacement of the original Pratt & Whitney engines with the JT8D-200 engines. The newer engines have created a quieter ride and are much more fuel-efficient than the older and smaller engines. The Pratt & Whitney JT8D-200 engines have also extended the MD-80’s range. This has made the airplane popular for regional as well as national commercial airlines.
Another significant change for the plane in later years was the extension of the MD-80’s fuselage. That permitted the MD-80 to carry additional passengers and freight, which increased the plane’s value for cost-conscious carriers.
Maximum speed: 546 mph
Range: 1,600 miles
Length: 147′ 9″
Wingspan: 107′ 8″
Height: 30′ 5″
Empty weight: 140,000 pounds
Engine(s): Two 18,500-pound-thrust Pratt & Whitney JT8D-209 engines
Crew: Three, including the pilot, first officer, and flight engineer
Passengers: 155 passengers