McDonnell Douglas MD-11
The McDonnell Douglas MD-11 (now Boeing MD-11) is a medium-size three-engine long-haul airliner seating 300 to 400 passengers. The aircraft is a further development of the earlier and more successful DC-10.
Since the DC-10 entered airline service in the early 1970s, McDonnell Douglas studied several possible further developments, including stretched versions and even a twin-engine aircraft. However, due to economic stagnation the US aircraft manufacturer waited until December 1986 before it launched the MD-11, which essentially is a stretched DC-10.
The aircraft was presented as a long-haul airliner flying routes for which the Boeing 747 was too big. Its main competitors were the four-engined Airbus A340 and the later twin-engined Boeing 777. Apart from a longer fuselage (seating around 50 extra passengers) the MD-11 incorporates changes like a two-crew digital 'glass' cockpit, improved engines, winglets and a restyled interior. The MD-11 made its first flight on 10 January 1990 and in December 1990 Finnair became the first operator.
From the beginning, McDonnell Douglas offered a variety of versions, including the MD-11ER (Extended Range), the MD-11F (Freighter), the MD-11C (Combi) and the MD-11CF (Convertible Freighter with a convertible passenger/cargo interior). Later McDonnell Douglas considered stretched versions with a new wing and underfloor 'panorama deck' seating, but these versions were never built.
The MD-11 didn't become a commercial success. One of the reasons was that it initially didn't meet its targets for range and fuel burn. Although the orderbook totalled orders, options and commitments for more than 300 airplanes at the time of the first flight, only 200 were built. Some important customers, like the British airline Air Europe, suspended flying before deliveries began. Other carriers, like Singapore Airlines, cancelled their orders and chose the Airbus A340 instead.
In November 1997 Boeing took over McDonnell Douglas. At first it intended to keep the MD-11 in production as a freighter. However, because of lack of demand Boeing soon decided to close the assembly line. The last aircraft built, a MD-11F, was delivered to Lufthansa in February 2001.
The MD-11 isn't any more in use as a passenger aircraft. The Dutch airline KLM was the last airline to fly passengers with the type until October 2014. Around 150 MD-11s are still in service as freighters, however. Its biggest users are Federal Express and UPS United Parcel System.
Do you know these tails?
Click on tails to see photos
See all MD-11 tails here