From: email@example.com (Philip M. Chuang) Organization: University of Michigan Date: 26 Mar 94 00:35:51 PST References: 1 Followups: 1
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>This may be a very obvious question, but if it is then I would be >happy with a simple answer! I recently flew in the exit row on >a NW flight. Plastic lettering above the doors indicated that >the plane was a DC9. Yet the flight attendants refered to the plane >as an MD-80 and the seat-back information card was also for MD-80. > >Now I am no rocket scientist (just a humble history professor), but >this would suggest to me that old DC9's were somehow retrofitted >to become MD-80's (this was certainly an older plane -- soon if not >already NW will have the oldest fleet of any US carrier, due to all >its defered and canceled plane orders after the LBO). Could someone >tell me precisely how a DC-9 is turned into an MD-80? Or, if my >guess about retrofitting is incorrect, could someone explain to me >the relationship between the two planes? > >Thanks in advance. > >Ron This is indeed an obvious question, but with a complicated answer sure to delight a history professor: (from "Airliners" Winter 1993 issue, a reader noticed that the magazine did a story on the final Delta DC-9 flight, but one of his references says Delta has 125 DC-9's. The Editor answers:) The simple answer is that Delta calls a DC-9-32 a DC-9 and an MD-88 an MD-88. The complex answer revolves around the Type Certificate, issued in the USA by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which certifies the airworthiness of a particular type. This is a data sheet which, acording to the legal wording, "Prescribes conditions and limitations under which the product for which the Type Certificate was issued meets the air- worthyness requirements of the Civil Air Regulations." A Type Certificate (TC) is issued with the aircraft model designation exactly as it appears on the manufacturer's application, including use of hyphens or decimal points, and should match exactly what is stamped on the aircraft's data or name plate; what the manufacturer chooses to call an aircraft for marketing or promotional purposes is therefore irrelevant to the airworthiness authorities and 'unofficial.' In the case of the DC-9, the Douglas Aircraft Company (DAC) received TC No. A6WE for the DC-9-11,-12,-13, and-14 on November 23, 1965, which was subsequently amended to include versions up to the -51; in due course, the TC holder became the McDonnell Douglas Corporation (MDC). In the case of the DC-9-81, -82, and -83, DAC applied for and received certification under these designations as a further amendment to TC A6WE between August 1980 (DC-9-81) and Octover 1985 (DC-9-83). In mid-1983, the parent of MDC in St. Louis threw away 50 years of history and put forth the dictum that henceforth the DC-9-80 (Super 80) would be called the MD-80. However, instead of merely using the MD-prefix as a marketing name, an application was made to again amend TCA6WE to include the MD-81, MD-82, and MD-83. The change was dated March 10, 1986 and a note was made in the TC that although the official designator remained DC-9-81,-82,-83, the 'MD' designator could be used in parenthesis, but must be accompanied by the official verion (ie DC-9-81 (MD-81)). All aircraft thereafter have MD-81, MD-82, or MD-83 stamped on the name plate. Although not certificated until October 21,1987, DAC had already applied for models DC-9-87 nad DC-9-87F on February 13, 1985, and this derivative was similarly officially designated DC-9-87 (MD-87), althought no name plates were stamped DC-9-87 (the DC-9-87 F has not been certified) In the case of the MD-88, an application for a TC model amendment was made after the above change and therefore there was never a DC-9-88, only the MD-88 which was certified on December 10, 1987. (Interestingly, a proposed MD-88F did not appear). Thus any reference to a DC-9-88 is incorrect, and Delta was correct to say farewell to its DC-9s in early 1993. Footnotes: 1. Since Northwest inherited DC-9-82's from Republic, "Officially" they do not operate MD-80. 2. The last time I flew on an MD-88 it was on TWA. The pilot told me the plane was assembled by Shanghai Aircraft in China, though the Dataplate says Long Beach. He also told me that particular plane was an MD-88G because it was built with a glass cockpit, can anyone help me confirm this? 3. The MD-87 has the Wing, stablizers, engines, and tail of MD-88, but with a body almost exactly the length of the DC-9-50, but the wings are append further aft because the MD-80's engines are larger and heavier than that of the DC-9-50. MD-87 also as an extended vertical fin.