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ORBIS International DC-10 (Flying Eye Hospital)

Ophthalmic Hospital and Instruction Platform


To date the ORBIS International DC-10 has helped over 18,000,000 people in some 90 countries worldwide.

Detailing the development and operational history of the ORBIS International DC-10 (Flying Eye Hospital) Ophthalmic Hospital and Instruction Platform.  Entry last updated on 5/15/2019. Authored by JR Potts, AUS 173d AB. Content ©
ORBIS International is a non-profit organization developed to combat blindness in Third World countries. Philanthropists purchased a Douglas DC-10-10 aircraft in 1992 and donated it to the group in an effort to bring support to people anywhere in the world - the ORBIS DC-10 is the oldest DC-10 still flying today (2013). The basic purpose of ORBIS is to bring eye care to its patients and to succeed, the organization relies on 500 volunteer faculty members around the world to provide clinical and technical expertise at local hospitals as well as onboard the "Flying Eye Hospital" for a number of sight-saving procedures. To date (2013), the ORBIS DC-10 has logged more than forty years of active service as an airliner and eye hospital and is expected to be replaced in the coming years with a McDonnell Douglas MD-10-30F, a later DC-10 variant donated by FedEx so she can continue her valuable sight-saving missions around the globe.

For its modernized role, the aircraft undertook a refit program that lasted two years, having most of her passenger seating removed to include a new training and active service hospital. The first-class section was converted into a 48-seat theater so local doctors could watch actual real-time procedures in the operating arena. Behind the theater is located the state-of-the-art operating room and, behind the operating room, a three-bed recovery room. All told, the refit totaled roughly $15 million dollars. As a 601(c)(3) charitable company, ORBIS International support includes aircraft personnel from FedEx and United Airlines where volunteer their time to fly and maintain the "Eye Hospital" from one airport to the next - essentially able to reach anywhere in the world with an acceptable runaway. The ORBIS people make approximately eight trips per year and each mission takes weeks of planning by all involved - doctors, staff and air crew. Due to the true age of the DC-10 in use, the aircraft requires many inspection hours and a high level of maintenance.

ORBIS works in some of the world's most underserved areas to deliver service in two ways: while the DC-10 is in the hands of its mechanics, the onboard doctors and staff are in the host country interviewing perspective patients and training local doctors. The medical staff meets with local eye care clinics and provides familiarization to staff by showcasing current ophthalmic technology. In the last 20 years, ORBIS has carried out programs in 77 different countries, providing treatment to more than 15 million visually impaired people. During the programs, more than 200,000 eye care professionals around the world were introduced to modern equipment and procedures.

One of the missions revolve around outreach, a broad-based building program consisting of local doctors, hospitals , clinics, eye banks and government/non-governmental health organizations. Currently the ORBIS team has approximately 100 active partners that maintain a working relationship with one another for three years or so. All projects are structured towards long-term activities that will last after ORBIS assistance has been completed. Donors around the world provide expertise and funding to partners in Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Jamaica, Nepal, Vietnam, South Africa, Zambia and many more.


YEAR: 1994
STATUS: Active, Limited Service
MANUFACTURER(S): McDonnell Douglas - USA
LENGTH: 170.51 ft (51.97 m)
WIDTH: 155.31 ft (47.34 m)
HEIGHT: 58.07 ft (17.7 m)
MTOW: 455,001 lb (206,385 kg)
POWER: 3 x General Electric GE CF6-6D turbofan engines developing 40,000lb of thrust each.
SPEED: 610 mph (982 kph; 530 kts)
RANGE: 3,800 miles (6,116 km; 3,302 nm)
OPERATORS: United States

Variants / Models

• DC-10 - Base Series Designation
• DC-10-10 - Model Used for ORBIS International world initiative.
• MD-10-30F - Former FedEx aircraft donated by the company to succeed the retiring DC-10-10.

Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

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Relative Maximum Speed
Hi: 750mph
Lo: 375mph
This entry's maximum listed speed (610mph).

Graph average of 562.5 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
Graph showcases the ORBIS International DC-10-10 (Flying Eye Hospital)'s operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
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Unit Production (1)
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units

  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.

Supported Roles
Ground Attack
Aerial Tanker
A2A=Air-to-Air; UAV=Unmanned; CAS=Close Support; ASW=Anti-Submarine; AEW=Airborne Early Warning; MEDEVAC=Medical Evac; EW=Electronic Warfare; SAR=Search-Rescue
Commitments / Honors
Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for pioneering aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon representing modern aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur War
Military lapel ribbon for experimental x-plane aircraft
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.

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