Re: Prototype airliners; what is their fate?

Date:         25 Jan 98 03:27:19 
From:         kls@ohare.Chicago.COM (Karl Swartz)
Organization: Chicago Software Works, Menlo Park, California
References:   1 2
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>    Many prototypes are kept for future developements.  However, I know that
>FedEx is flying the MD-11 prototype.  The first MD-11 serial numbers went to
>FedEx, however, they were delivered after the American Airlines recieved their
>aircraft due to time it took to refurbrish the prototypes.

The term "prototype" as applied to aircraft is usually used to refer to
aircraft which are nearly custom built (as opposed to using production
tooling) and which often differ in substantial detail from the final,
full production models.  In some cases, there may be parts which are not
as strong as production ones, since the aircraft is only intended to
serve flight testing and not the rigors of airline service.  This may be
why the first 747 cannot be certified for service -- it will never be
used for anything other than flight tests (and demos and display).

With the MD-11, no prototypes were built.  FedEx simply got the first
several production examples off the line, which were used as part of
the flight test program and therefore required refurbishment prior to

The 727 was the same way -- no prototype was built, and after conclusion
of the flight test program, line number 1 went to United, where it served
for many years, indistinguishable from the other 727-22s except for its
registration (N7001U).

Karl Swartz	|Home
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