American Airlines will retire the last of its McDonnell Douglas MD-80 aircraft on Wednesday, September 4th, saying goodbye to the carrier that has been used for decades.
The history of the MD80
The MD80 first entered commercial service in 1980. It was McDonnell Douglas’ stretched version of the DC-9. After Boeing acquired McDonnell Douglas in 1997 its successors became the Boeing 717. American Airlines became the first U.S. carrier to order the plane and the world’s largest operator of the plane. Originally called the DC-9-30 or DC-9 Super 80, the aircraft is distinct with turbofan engines mounted at the rear of the aircraft and a T-tail. However, the plane’s engines burn a lot more fuel than more modern aircraft. That means higher operating costs. That is why the time has come for the plane to retire.
The last MD-80 was built at the McDonnell Douglas factory in Long Beach, California.
A commemorative flight
American Airlines organized a sendoff to Roswell, New Mexico on September 4th. To help commemorate the historic day, they created a special retro American Flight 80 boarding pass. A very sentimental touch.
“It’s a very plain airplane when you think about what we have right now, with newer planes delivered with power at every seat and high-speed Wi-Fi. But customers loved the 2-3, or five abreast, seating on the MD-80” an employee said
MD80 had a very comfortable seating arrangement with a lot of legroom. The seats were 2×3 in economy class meaning that only one passenger per row had a middle seat. That was the main appeal of the plane to the customers.
Unfortunately, that plane model has run its course and it is being replaced with more modern and advanced planes. The MD80s had become a maintenance problem, they had average delays that were about one-third longer than for any other aircraft.