End of an era: American announces last MD-80 revenue flight

June 26, 2019
MD-80 American retuires
An MD-80. Photo Bill Abbott/Wikimedia Commons

They feel like they’ve been around since Moses was a boy but by September 4, American Airlines will have retired its last 26 McDonnell Douglas MD-80 aircraft from revenue service.

The aircraft are being replaced by more efficient modern planes such as the Boeing 737.

“The MD-80, also known as the Super 80, was the workhorse of the airline’s fleet throughout the 1980s and beyond, providing customers and team members with heartfelt memories on adventures ranging from family vacations to key business trips,” American said in a statement.

“It’s a bittersweet but well-earned retirement as American celebrates the aircraft’s history while modernizing its fleet.”

READ:World’s 10 most successful commercial jet airliners

The planes will be ferried to Roswell, New Mexico, after they operate their last revenue flights on September 3 and September 4.

The final flight, appropriately named AA80, will be from Dallas-Fort Worth to Chicago.

Amderican retires MD80
The list of AA MD-80 final flights

The MD-80 was designed as a stretch variant of the DC-9, developed by Douglas Aircraft in the 1960s as an adjunct to the DC-8, and first flew on October 18, 1979, as the DC-9 Super 80.

It was certified by the Federal Aviation Administration in August 1980 and entered airline service three months later with Swissair.

READ Boeing releases video of first taxi test of its 777X

Initially powered by two rear-mounted  18,500-pound-thrust Pratt & Whitney JT8D-209 engines. the airliner introduced many advances in technology and 1,191 were delivered between 1980 and 1999.

It carried up to 155 passengers in a 2-3 configuration which meant half the number of middle seats compared to later jets in a 3-3 layout.

American was the first US carrier to order the MD80 and leased 20 142-seat aircraft from McDonnell Douglas in  October 1982, to replace the Boeing 727-100.

It would commit to 67 firm orders in 1984 and by 2002 its fleet peaked at more than 360 aircraft.

There were several variants using more powerful engines and extending the range of the aircraft, culminating in the MD-88 launched in 1986.

The aircraft’s appeal was reflected in a long list of global customers that included Alaska Airlines, Allegiant Air, Austrian Airlines, China Eastern, Aeromexico, Korean Air and Trans World Airlines.

The final DC-9 derivative, The MD95, was renamed the Boeing 717 after Boeing and McDonnell Douglas merged.