Yesterday marked the 24th anniversary of the first service of the McDonnell Douglas MD-90. The MD-90 was the largest derivative of the DC-9 and the first to use an engine other than a variant of the Pratt & Whitney JT8D, switching to the IAE V2500 rated at 25,000 lbs of thrust. Launched on 14 November 1989 with an order from Delta Air Lines for up to 160 of the 153-seat MD-90-30, the MD-90 first flew on 22 February 1993 and entered service with Delta on 1 April 1995. Delta subsequently reduced their order, then converted the remaining orders to the Boeing 737-800 when McDonnell Douglas merged into Boeing.
A proposed MD-90-50 variant, with increased range thanks to higher maximum takeoff weight, increased-thrurst engines, and greater fuel capacity, was not built. A stretched MD-90-40 was also stillborn. Two examples of the MD-90-30ER were built, with additional fuel tankage in the forward cargo hold. Another variant was the MD-90-30T Trunkliner, of which 40 were to have been assembled by Shanghai Aviation Industrial Corporation (SAIC) for the Chinese market; only two of these were built and they were subsequently acquired by Delta. The remainder of MD-90 production was of the MD-90-30 model.
Only 117 MD-90s were built, with 116 being delivered to customers. (The first aircraft was a prototype and never delivered.) Delta is the only airline still flying the MD-90, with a fleet of 78 aircraft (of which 37 are currently in service) that represents over two-thirds of the MD-90 production, including many that Delta acquired after other carriers retired them. Other major operators of the MD-90 included:
Today's Featured Map shows shows the main routes where Delta currently uses the MD-90, with routes from their Atlanta hub in blue and routes from hubs in Detroit and Minneapolis in red. Also marked is Long Beach, where most MD-90s were built. (Jiangwan Airport in Shanghai, where the other two were assembled, is not shown.)
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Karl L. Swartz.
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