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McDonnell Douglas / Boeing MD-80

Narrow-Body Jet Airliner [ 1980 ]

Since introduction in 1980, the MD-80 narrow-body jet airliner series has seen production reach nearly 1,200 units.

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 09/06/2019 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

The twin-engined MD-80 was developed by aviation powerhouse McDonnell Douglas as a short-to-medium-ranged passenger-minded jet-powered airliner. It saw its service introduction in 1980 and went on to feature six major variants across the 1,191 total aircraft produced. The framework for the aircraft was established by the earlier DC-9 of 1965 (976 units produced), also by McDonnell Douglas, with the MD-80 becoming a longer and modernized version. The type was adopted globally throughout the 1980s though its numbers in operation are down to about 400 or so today (2018).

The MD-80 was produced by McDonnell Douglas from its introduction (with launch carrier SwissAir) until the merger with Boeing Commerical Airplanes occurred in 1997. Since then, the series has fallen under the Boeing brand label.

Production spanned from 1979 until 1999.

Development of the MD-80 began in the 1970s as a successor to the successful DC-9 series. By lengthening the existing fuselage (by more than 14 feet), more fuel could be added and new technology allowed for more powerful engines to be fitted. This affected operational ranges as well as Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) for the expected short-to-medium routes. The Pratt & Whitney JT8D series turbofan was selected to power the new aircraft. In this revised form, the aircraft was initially known as the DC-9 "Series 80" due to its origination in the DC-9 family.

First flight of the Series 80 aircraft occurred on October 19th, 1979. Service introduction with SwissAir followed on October 10th, 1980. During the test phase, two prototypes suffered significant damage which delayed the program some. Certification was granted on October 21, 1987 and the line was considered an extension of the existing DC-9 family of airliners.

The design form of the MD-80 saw a typical configuration - save for the engine nacelles which were fitted to the aft section of the fuselage just ahead of the tailplanes. The cockpit, offering side-by-side seating for its crew of two, sat over the nose in the usual way. The passenger and baggage section made up the internal bulk of the tubular fuselage which tapered at the end. The aircraft carried a T-style, Multhopp tail unit in which the horizontal planes were seated atop the single vertical fin. The wing mainplanes were situated at midships, were low-mounted, and featured sweepback along their leading edges. A conventional tricycle undercarriage was used in which all legs had double wheels.

Early-build forms carried the PW JT8D-209 engines of 18,500lb thrust while later-build forms switched to the PW JT8D-217 and -219 model engines which offered greater power output, better fuel economy, and reduced operating noises.

The MD-80 family consists of several variants in the line. This begins with the MD-81 which served as the initial production form. MTOW was 140,000lb with 155-seat capacity. First-flight was in October of 1979 and deliveries followed in September of 1980. The last delivery occurred in June of 1994 to JAL Domestic. Production totaled 132 units with peak being 1981 (48 examples produced).

The MD-82 was launched in April of 1979 and given uprated engines for more power. With this came an increase to operational range and MTOW which made this series entry a good candidate for "Hot and High" operations and specific airports around the world. Original JT8D-217 engines offered a thrust output of 20,000lb each unit. These were then switched to -217A series engines before the end of 1982. MTOW was increased to 147,000lb. Seat capacity was 155 persons. Production ended with 539 units with peak being 1986 (64 uexamples). A further 30 were built to the MD-82T standard.©MilitaryFactory.com
The MD-83 was introduced in 1985 with Alaska Airlines and was more-or-less an extended range form of the preceding MD-81 and MD-82 models. Uprated engines were once-again used and this, in turn, affected MTOW and operating ranges. MTOW was now 160,000lb. 155 passengers could be carried and reinforcements were had to the structure and undercarriage. Wing skinning was also addressed. Final deliveries, to air carrier TWA, occurred in December of 1999. Total production netted 265 units with peak being 1987 (31 units).

The short-fuselage MD-87 was announced in January of 1985 and provided mixed-class seating between 109 and 130 passengers. PW JT8D-217C or -219 series turbofan engines were offered to customers. Range was out to 2,370 nautical miles on internal fuel. Type certification followed in October of 1987 and first-deliveries (through Austrian Airlines) were had in November of that year. Total production ended with 75 units completed and peak was had in 1990 with 25 untis delivered.

The final variant of the MD-80 line became the MD-88 launched in January of 1986. This model was based in the MD-82 and MD-83 series offerings and represented a new standard in the famiyl line - so much so that earlier MD-82 and MD-83 marks were updated to the MD-88 specification. Deliveries of this new type were started in December of 1987 and service introduction occurred through Delta Airlines in January of 1988. Final deliveries were recorded in June of 1997 (with air carrier Onur Air).

The MD-88 saw 150 aircraft completed with peak production recorded in 1991 (32 units).

The MD-80SF serves as a converted air freighter. These were modified beginning in 2010 by Aeronautical Engineers, Incorproated of Florida. With a first-flight recorded in September of 2012, type certificatation followed in early 2013. Everts Air Cargo became the launch customer of this model in February of 2013.

The MD-90 of 1989 is direct offshoot of the MD-80, primarily the MD-88 variant. It features a fuselage extension of five more feet and an all-digital avionics and cockpit suite. It is powered by a pair of IAE (International Aero Engines) V2500 turbofan engines. A first-flight of this model was had in 1993 and service introduction occurred in 1995.

The MD-90-30 was offered as a "stretched" model with uprated V2500 series engines. The MD-90ER was a proposed "extended range" variant. The MD-95 was proposed as a successor but went on to become the Boeing Model 717 after the McDonnell Douglas-Boeing merger in 1997. The MD-94X was a demonstrator used to trial "unducted" fan engines. it was showcased during Farnborough 1988.©MilitaryFactory.com
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September 2019 - On September 4th, 2019, American Airlines completed the last (revenue) flight of an MD-80, bringing an end to an era for the classic airliner.


Service Year

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In Active Service.


McDonnell Douglas Aircraft / Boeing Commercial Airplanes - USA
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(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
General transport functionality to move supplies/cargo or personnel (including wounded and VIP) over range.
Used in roles serving the commercial aviation market, ferrying both passengers and goods over range.
Used in the Very-Important-Person (VIP) passenger transport role, typically with above-average amenities and luxuries as standard.

147.7 ft
(45.01 m)
107.7 ft
(32.82 m)
29.6 ft
(9.02 m)
Empty Wgt
78,264 lb
(35,500 kg)
139,994 lb
(63,500 kg)
Wgt Diff
+61,729 lb
(+28,000 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the McDonnell Douglas MD-81 production variant)
Installed: 2 x Pratt & Whitney JT8D-200 turbofan engines developing 18,500lb to 21,000lb of thrust each.
Max Speed
544 mph
(875 kph | 472 kts)
2,051 mi
(3,300 km | 1,782 nm)

♦ MACH Regime (Sonic)
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030

(Showcased performance specifications pertain to the McDonnell Douglas MD-81 production variant. Performance specifications showcased above are subject to environmental factors as well as aircraft configuration. Estimates are made when Real Data not available. Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database or View aircraft by powerplant type)

Supported Types

(Not all ordnance types may be represented in the showcase above)
MD-80 - Base Series Designation; initial production model.
MD-81 - Model of 1980; 132 examples produced.
MD-82 - Model of 1981; JT8D-217/-217A engines; increased MTOW and range; 539 examples produced.
MD-82T - 30 examples produced.
MD-83 - Model of 1985; longer range model; increased MTOW; reinforced undercarriage; improved wing skinning; 265 examples produced.
MD-87 - Model of 1987; short fuselage variant; 75 examples produced.
MD-88 - Final production variant; model of 1987; 150 examples produced.

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Image of the McDonnell Douglas / Boeing MD-80
Image from the United States Department of Defense DVIDS imagery database.

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