: Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram
FREE Aviation Classifieds since 2004
  Aircraft History, Specification and Information
Douglas DC-8
1969 Douglas DC-8-73F - N603AL - Air Transport International ATI
1969 Douglas DC-8-73F - N603AL (sn 46003)
Air Transport International ATI a cargo DC-8-73 taking off from runway 28R at PDX.
Photo taken Aug. 10, 2011
Portland International Airport, OR - USA (PDX / KPDX)
Photo © Marcel Siegenthaler

The Douglas DC-8 is a four-engined narrow-body passenger commercial jet airliner, manufactured from 1958 to 1972 by the Douglas Aircraft Company. Launched later than the competing Boeing 707, the DC-8 nevertheless established Douglas in a strong position in the airliner market, and remained in production until 1972 when it began to be superseded by much larger designs, including the DC-10 and Boeing 747. The DC-8 design allowed it to hold slightly more cargo than the 707. Dozens of re-engined examples remain in freighter service to this day, while commercial 707 service had largely ended by 2000.

1960 Douglas DC-8-53 - SATA - HB-IDB
1960 Douglas DC-8-53
HB-IDB (sn 45417/69)
Photo taken Mid 1970's @ Zürich-Kloten Airport, ZH - Switzerland (ZRH / LSZH)
Photo © Marcel Siegenthaler Collection



In the post-World War II era, Douglas held a commanding position in the commercial aircraft market. Although Boeing had pointed the way to the modern all-metal airliner in 1933 with the 247, it was Douglas that, more than any other company, had made commercial air travel a reality. Douglas produced a succession of piston-engined aircraft (DC-2, DC-3, DC-4, DC-5, DC-6, and DC-7) through the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s.

When de Havilland introduced the first jet-powered airliner, the Comet, in 1949, Douglas took the view that there was no reason to rush into anything new. Their U.S. competitors at Lockheed and Convair felt the same way: that there would be a gradual switch from piston engines to turbines, and that the switch would be to the more fuel-efficient turboprop engines rather than pure jets. All three companies were working on a new generation of piston-engined designs, with an eye to turboprop conversion in the future.

De Havilland's pioneering Comet entered airline service in 1952. Initially it was a success, but a series of fatal crashes in 1953 and 1954 resulted in the type being grounded until the cause could be discovered. The cause of the Comet crashes had nothing to do with jet engines; it was a rapid metal fatigue failure brought on by cycling the high stresses in corners of the near-square windows from pressurizing the cabin to high altitudes and back. A new understanding of metal fatigue that the Comet investigation produced would play a vital part in the good safety record of later types like the DC-8.

In 1952, Douglas remained the most successful of the commercial aircraft manufacturers. They had almost 300 orders on hand for the piston-engined DC-6 and its successor, the DC-7, which had yet to fly and was still two years away from commercial service. The Comet disasters, and the consequent airline lack of interest in jets, seemed to demonstrate the wisdom of their staying with propeller-driven aircraft.


In contrast, Boeing took the bold step of starting to plan a pure-jet airliner in as early as 1949. Boeing's military arm had gained extensive experience with large, long-range jets through the B-47 Stratojet (first flight 1947) and the B-52 Stratofortress (1952). With thousands of their big jet bombers on order or in service, Boeing had developed a close relationship with the US Air Force's Strategic Air Command (SAC). Boeing also supplied the SAC's refueling aircraft, the piston-engined KC-97 Stratotankers, but these proved to be too slow and low flying to easily work with the new jet bombers. The B-52, in particular, had to descend from its cruising altitude and then slow almost to stall speed to work with the KC-97, even when the latter was augmented with jet engines to boost its speed.

Believing that a requirement for a jet-powered tanker was a certainty, Boeing started work on a new all-jet aircraft that would fill this role and also be adaptable into an airliner. In the airliner role it would have similar seating capacity to the Comet, but its swept wing planform would give it considerably higher cruising speeds, and better range. First presented in 1950 as the Model 473-60C, Boeing failed to generate any interest at the airlines. Nevertheless, Boeing remained convinced that the project was worthwhile, and decided to press ahead with a prototype, the "Dash-80". After spending $16 million of their own money on construction, the Dash-80 rolled out on 15 May 1954, and first flew the next month. Boeing's plans became obvious in the industry, despite the "code name" intended to hide its purpose.

Design phase

Douglas secretly began jet transport project definition studies in mid-1952. By mid-1953 these had developed into a form very similar to the final DC-8; an 80-seat, low-wing aircraft with four Pratt & Whitney JT3C turbojet engines, 30° wing sweep, and an internal cabin diameter of exactly 11 feet (3.35 m) to allow five abreast seating. Maximum weight was to be 95 tons (86 tonnes), and range was estimated to be about 3,000–4,000 miles (4,800–6,400 km).

Douglas remained lukewarm about the jet airliner project, but believed that the Air Force tanker contract would go to two companies for two different aircraft, as several USAF transport contracts in the past had done. In May 1954, the USAF circulated its requirement for 800 jet tankers to Boeing, Douglas, Convair, Fairchild, Lockheed, and Martin. Boeing was already just two months away from having their prototype in the air. Just four months after issuing the tanker requirement, the USAF ordered the first 29 KC-135s from Boeing. Besides Boeing's ability to provide a jet tanker promptly, the flying-boom air-to-air refueling system was also a Boeing product from the KC-97: developing the KC-135 had been a safe bet.

Donald Douglas was shocked by the rapidity of the decision which, he said, had been made before the competing companies even had time to complete their bids. He protested to Washington, but without success. Having started on the DC-8 project, Douglas decided that it was better to press on than give up. Consultations with the airlines resulted in a number of changes: the fuselage was widened by 15 inches (38 cm) to allow six-abreast seating. This led to larger wings and tail surfaces and a longer fuselage.

The DC-8 was officially announced in July 1955. Four versions were offered to begin with, all based on the same 150-foot-6-inch (45.87 m) long airframe with a 141-foot-1-inch (43.00 m) wingspan, but varying in engines and fuel capacity, and with maximum weights of about 120–130 tons (109–118 tonnes). Douglas steadfastly refused to offer different fuselage sizes. The maiden flight was planned for December 1957, with entry into revenue service in 1959. Well aware that they were lagging behind Boeing, Douglas began a major push to market the product.

First orders

At the time, Douglas' previous thinking about the airliner market seemed to be coming true; the transition to turbine powered looked likely to be one to turboprops rather than turbojets. The pioneering 40–60-seat Vickers Viscount was already in service and proving enormously popular with both passengers and airlines: it was much faster, quieter and more comfortable than piston-engined types. Another British aircraft, the 90-seat Bristol Britannia, was establishing a fine reputation, and Douglas's main rival in the large, piston-engined passenger aircraft market, Lockheed, had committed to the short/medium range 80–100-seat turboprop Electra, with a launch order from American Airlines for 35 and other major orders flowing in. Meanwhile the Comet remained grounded, the French 90-passenger twin jet Sud Aviation Caravelle prototype had just flown for the first time, and the 707 was not expected to be available until late 1958. The major airlines were reluctant to commit themselves to the huge financial and technical challenge of jet aircraft. On the other hand, no-one could afford not to buy jets if their competitors did.

And there the matter rested until October 1955, when Pan American placed simultaneous orders with Boeing for 20 707s and Douglas for 25 DC-8s. To buy one expensive and untried jet-powered aircraft type was brave: to buy both was at the time, unheard of. In the closing months of 1955, other airlines rushed to follow suit: Air France, American, Braniff, Continental and Sabena ordered 707s; United, National, KLM, Eastern, JAL and SAS chose the DC-8. In 1956 Air India, BOAC, Lufthansa, Qantas and TWA added over 50 to the 707 order book, while Douglas sold 22 DC-8s to Delta, Swissair, TAI, Trans-Canada and UAT. By the start of 1958, Douglas had sold 133 DC-8s as against Boeing's 150 707s.

Production and testing

The first DC-8 was rolled out of the new factory at Long Beach in April 1958 and flew for the first time in May. Later that year, an enlarged version of the Comet finally returned to service, but too late to take a substantial portion of the market: de Havilland had just 25 orders. In October, Boeing began delivering 707s to Pan Am. Douglas made a massive effort to close the gap with Boeing, using no less than ten individual aircraft for flight testing to achieve FAA certification for the first of the many DC-8 variants in August 1959. Much had needed to be done: the original air brakes on the lower rear fuselage were found ineffective and were simply deleted as engine thrust reversers had become available; unique leading-edge slots were added to improve low-speed lift; the prototype was 25 kn (46 km/h) short of its promised cruising speed and a new, slightly larger wingtip had to be developed to reduce drag. In addition, a recontoured wing leading edge was developed that extended the chord 4% and reduced drag at high Mach numbers.

The DC-8 entered revenue service first with Delta Air Lines on 18 September 1959 with United also entering service later on the same day. By March 1960, Douglas had reached their planned production rate of eight DC-8s a month. Despite the large number of DC-8 early models available, all used the same basic airframe, differing only in engines, weights and details. In contrast, Boeing's rival 707 range offered several fuselage lengths and two differing wingspans: the original 144-foot (44 m) 707-120, a 135-foot (41 m) version that sacrificed space to gain longer range, and the stretched 707-320, which at 153 feet (47 m) overall had 10 feet (3.0 m) more cabin space than the DC-8. Douglas' refusal to offer different fuselage sizes made it less adaptable and forced Delta and United to look elsewhere for short/medium range types. Delta ordered Convair 880s but United went for the newly developed lightweight 707-020 but prevailed on Boeing to rename the new variant the "720" in case people thought they were dissatisfied with the DC-8. Significantly, Pan Am never reordered the DC-8 and Douglas gradually lost market share to Boeing. After an excellent start, 1962 DC-8 sales dropped to just 26, followed by 21 in 1963 and 14 in '64, and most of these were for the Jet Trader rather than the more prestigious passenger versions. In 1967, Douglas merged with McDonnell Aircraft Corporation to become McDonnell Douglas (MDC).

On 21 August 1961 a Douglas DC-8 broke the sound barrier at Mach 1.012 (660 mph/1,062 km/h) while in a controlled dive through 41,000 feet (12,497 m) and maintained that speed, for 16 seconds. The flight was to collect data on a new leading-edge design for the wing, and while doing so, this DC-8 became the first civilian jet to make a supersonic flight. The aircraft was a DC-8-43 later delivered to Canadian Pacific Air Lines as CF-CPG. The aircraft, crewed by Captain William Magruder, First Officer Paul Patten, Flight Engineer Joseph Tomich and Flight Test Engineer Richard Edwards, took off from Edwards Air Force Base in California, and was accompanied to altitude by an F-104 flown by Chuck Yeager.

Further developments

In April 1965, Douglas announced belated fuselage stretches for the DC-8 with three new models known as the Super Sixties. The DC-8 program had been in danger of closing with fewer than 300 aircraft sold, but the Super Sixties brought fresh life to it. By the time production ceased in 1972, 262 of the stretched DC-8s had been made. With the ability to seat 269 passengers, the DC-8 Series 61 and 63 had the largest passenger-carrying capacity available. That remained so until the Boeing 747 arrived in 1970.

All the earlier jetliners were noisy by modern standards. Increasing traffic densities and changing public attitudes led to complaints about aircraft noise and moves to introduce restrictions. As early as 1966 the New York Port Authority expressed concern about the noise to be expected from the then still unbuilt DC-8-61, and operators had to agree to operate it from New York at lower weights to reduce noise. By the early 1970s, legislation for aircraft noise standards was being introduced in many countries, and the 60 Series DC-8s were particularly at risk of being banned from major airports.

In the early 1970s several airlines approached McDonnell Douglas for noise reduction modifications to the DC-8 but nothing was done. Third parties had developed aftermarket hushkits but there was no real move to keep the DC-8 in service. Finally, in 1975, General Electric began discussions with major airlines with a view to fitting the new and vastly quieter Franco-American CFM56 engine to both DC-8s and 707s. MDC remained reluctant but eventually came on board in the late 1970s and helped develop the 70 Series DC-8s.

The Super Seventies were a great success: roughly 70% quieter than the 60-Series and, at the time of their introduction, the world's quietest four-engined airliner. As well as being quieter and more powerful, the CFM56 was roughly 20% more fuel efficient than the JT3D, which reduced operating costs and extended the range.

By 2002, of the 1032 707s and 720s manufactured for commercial use, just 80 remained in service — though many of those 707s were converted for USAF use, either in service or for spare parts. Of the 556 DC-8s made, around 200 were still in commercial service in 2002, including about 25 50-Series, 82 of the stretched 60-Series, and 96 out of the 110 re-engined 70-Series. Most of the surviving DC-8s are now used as freighters. As of May 2009, 97 DC-8s were in service following UPS's decision to retire their remaining fleet of 44.


DC-8 Series 10

For U.S. domestic use and powered by 13,500 lb (60.5 kN) Pratt & Whitney JT3C-6 turbojets with water injection. The initial DC-8-11 model had the original, high-drag wingtips and all examples were subsequently converted to DC-8-12 standard. The DC-8-12 had the new wingtips and leading-edge slots inboard of each pylon. These unique devices were actuated by doors on the upper and lower surfaces that opened for low speed flight and closed for cruise. The maximum weight increased from 265,000 to 273,000 pounds (120,200 to 123,800 kg). 28 DC-8-10s were manufactured. This model was originally named "DC-8A" until the series 30 was introduced. 29 built, 22 for United and 6 for Delta, plus the prototype. The JT3C powered DC-8 was underpowered and by the mid sixties United had converted 15 of its 20 surviving aircraft to DC-8-20 standard and the other 5 to -50s. Delta converted its 6 to DC-8-50s.

DC-8 Series 20

Higher-powered 15,800 lb (70.8 kN) Pratt & Whitney JT4A-3 turbojets (without water injection) allowed a weight increase to 276,000 pounds (125,190 kg). 34 DC-8-20s were manufactured plus 15 converted DC-8-10s. This model was originally named "DC-8B" but was renamed when the series 30 was introduced.

DC-8 Series 30

For intercontinental routes, the three Series 30 variants combined JT4A engines with a one-third increase in fuel capacity and strengthened fuselage and landing gear. The DC-8-31 was certified in March 1960 with 16,800 lb (75.2 kN) JT4A-9 engines for 300,000-pound (136,080 kg) maximum take off weight. The DC-8-32 was similar but allowed 310,000-pound (140,600 kg) weight. The DC-8-33 of November 1960 substituted 17,500 lb (78.4 kN) JT4A-11 turbojets, a modification to the flap linkage to allow a 1.5° setting for more efficient cruise, stronger landing gear, and 315,000-pound (142,880 kg) maximum weight. Many -31 and -32 DC-8s were upgraded to this standard. A total of 57 DC-8-30s were produced.

DC-8 Series 40

The -40 was essentially the -30 but with 17,500 lb (78.4 kN) Rolls-Royce Conway 509 turbofans for better efficiency, less noise and less smoke. The Conway was an improvement over the turbojets that preceded it, but the Series 40 sold poorly both because of the traditional reluctance of U.S. airlines to buy a foreign product and because the still more advanced Pratt & Whitney JT3D turbofan was due in early 1961. The DC-8-41 and DC-8-42 had weights of 300,000 pounds (136,100 kg) and 310,000 pounds (140,000 kg) respectively, The 315,000-pound (142,880 kg) DC-8-43 had the 1.5° flap setting of the -33 and introduced a new 4% leading edge wing extension to allow a small fuel capacity increase and a significant drag reduction – the new wing design improved range by 8%, lifting capacity by 3.3 tons (3 tonnes), and cruising speed by better than 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph). It would be included in all future DC-8s. The variant was first delivered in 1960 and a total of 32 were built. It was the first turbofan-powered airliner.

DC-8 Series 50

The definitive short-fuselage DC-8 with the same engine that powered the vast majority of 707s, the JT3D. Many earlier DC-8s were converted to this standard. All bar the -55 were certified in 1961. The DC-8-51, DC-8-52 and DC-8-53 all had 17,000 lb (76.1 kN) JT3D-1 or 18,000 lb (80.6 kN) JT3D-3B engines, varying mainly in their weights: 276,000 pounds (125,200 kg), 300,000 pounds (136,100 kg) and 315,000 pounds (142,900 kg) respectively. The DC-8-55 arrived in June 1964, retaining the JT3D-3B engines but with strengthened structure from the freighter versions and 325,000-pound (147,420 kg) maximum weight. 88 DC-8-50s were manufactured plus 14 converted from Series 10/30.

  • DC-8 Jet Trader - Douglas approved development of specialized freighter versions of the DC-8 in May 1961, based on the Series 50. An original plan to fit a fixed bulkhead separating the forward ⅔ of the cabin for freight, leaving the rear cabin for 54 passenger seats was soon replaced by a more practical one to use a movable bulkhead and allow anywhere between 25 and 114 seats with the remainder set aside for cargo. A large cargo door was fitted into the forward fuselage, the cabin floor was reinforced and the rear pressure bulkhead was moved by nearly 7 feet (2.1 m) to make more space. Airlines were offered the option of a windowless cabin, though only one, United, took this up, with an order for 15 in 1964. The DC-8F-54 had a maximum takeoff weight of 315,000 pounds (142,880 kg) and the DC-8F-55 325,000 pounds (147,420 kg). Both used 18,000 lb (80.6 kN) JT3D-3B powerplants. 54 aircraft built.
  • EC-24A - A single ex-United Airlines DC-8F-54 was used by the United States Navy as an electronic warfare training platform. It was retired in October 1998 and is now in storage with the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group.

DC-8 Super 60 Series

The DC-8 Series 61 was designed for high capacity and medium range. It had the same wings, engines and pylons as the -53, and sacrificed range to gain capacity. Having decided to stretch the DC-8, Douglas inserted a 240-inch (6.1 m) plug in the forward fuselage and a 200-inch (5.1 m) plug aft, taking overall length to 187 feet 4 inches (57.10 m) and giving the aircraft a very long, lean look that was unique. The added length required strengthening of the structure, but the basic DC-8 design already had sufficient ground clearance to permit the one-third increase in cabin size without requiring longer landing gear. The variant first flew on March 14, 1966 and was certified in September 1966 at a maximum weight of 325,000 pounds (147,420 kg). Deliveries began in January 1967 and it entered service with United Airlines in February 1967. It typically carried 210 passengers, or 269 in high-density configuration. A cargo door equipped DC-8-61CF was also available. 78 -61 and 10 -61CF built.

The long-range DC-8 Series 62 followed in April 1967. It had a much more modest stretch, two 40-inch (1.0 m) plugs fore and aft of the wing taking overall length to 157 feet 5 inches (47.98 m), and a number of modifications to provide greater range. 3 feet (0.91 m) wingtip extensions reduced drag and added fuel capacity, and Douglas redesigned the engine pods, extending the pylons and substituting new shorter and neater nacelles, all in the cause of drag reduction. The 18,000 lb JT3D-3B was retained but the engine pylons were redesigned to eliminate their protrusion above the wing and make them sweep forward more sharply, so that the engines were actually positioned some 40 inches (1.0 m) further forward. The engine pods were also modified featuring a reduction in pod diameter and the elimination of the -50 and -61 bypass duct. The changes all contributed to improve the aircraft's aerodynamic efficiency. The DC-8 Series 62 is slightly heavier than the -53 or -61 at 335,000 pounds (151,953 kg), and able to seat up to 189 passengers, the -62 had a range with full payload of about 5,200 nautical miles (9,600 km; 6,000 mi), or about the same as the -53 but with 40 extra passengers. Many late production -62s had 350,000 pounds (158,760 kg) maximum take off weight and were known as the -62H. Also available as the cargo door equipped convertible -62CF or all cargo -62AF. 51 DC-8-62s built plus 10 -62CF and 6 -62AF.

The DC-8 Series 63 was the final new build variant and entered service in June 1968. It combined the long fuselage of the -61, the aerodynamic refinements and increased fuel capacity of the -62 and 19,000 lb (85.1 kN) JT3D-7 engines. This yielded a maximum take off weight of 350,000 pounds (158,760 kg) and a range with full payload of 4,110 nautical miles (7,610 km; 4,730 mi). Like the -62 available as a cargo door equipped -63CF or all cargo -63AF. The freighters had a further increase in mtow to 355,000 pounds (161,030 kg). Eastern Airlines bought 6 -63PFs with the strengthened floor of the freighters but no cargo door. 41 DC-8-63s were built, plus 53 -63CF, 7 -63AF and the 6 -63PFs.

Super seventies

The DC-8-72 and the DC-8-73 were straightforward conversions of the -62 and -63, replacing the JT3D engines with 22,000 lb (98.5 kN) CFM56-2 high-bypass turbofans in new housings built by Grumman, along with new engine pylons and fairing of the air intakes below the nose. The DC-8-71 achieved the same end but required considerably more modification because the -61 did not already have the improved wings and relocated engines of the -62 and -63. Maximum takeoff weights remained the same, but there was a slight reduction in payload because of the heavier engines. All three models were certified in 1982 and a total of 110 60-Series DC-8s were converted by the time the program ended in 1988.


A total of 30 DC-8 aircraft (all variants) were in commercial service as of January 2011 with the following operators:

  • Air Transport International (16)
  • Astar Air Cargo (8)
  • Transair Cargo (3)
  • BETA Cargo (1)
  • Expo Aviation (1)
  • Stars Away Aviation (1)

The DC-8 is no longer used by military organizations as of 2008. The DC-8 is in use by NASA as an Airborne Laboratory.

The following is a list of past and present operators of the Douglas DC-8

(♠ - Original operators)

Civil operators

  • Austria
    Austrian Airlines
  • Belgium
    Belgian International Air Services
  • Brazil
    BETA Cargo
    Panair do Brasil
    Skymaster Airlines
    Transportes Charter do Brasil
  • Canada
    Air Canada
    Canadian Pacific Airlines ♠
    Minerve Canada
    Points of Call Airlines
    Swiftair Cargo
    Trans-Canada Airlines ♠ (became Air Canada)
    Worldways Canada
  • Cayman Islands
    Cayman Airways
  • Central African Republic
    Air Centrafrique
  • Ceylon
    Air Ceylon
  • Chile
    Fast Air
    LanChile Cargo
  • Colombia
    Tampa Cargo
    Congo Free State
    Air Congo
  • Côte d'Ivoire
    Air Afrique ♠
  • Cuba
  • Cyprus
    Cyprus Airways
  • Denmark
    Sterling Airways
  • Finland
    Spear Air
  • France
    Air France
    Aire d'Evasions
    Point Air
    Transports Aériens Intercontinentaux (TAI) ♠
    Union Aéromaritime de Transport (UAT) ♠
    UTA ♠
  • Germany
    Atlantis ♠
    German Cargo
    Lufthansa Cargo
  • Ghana
    Air Charter Express
    Ghana Airways
    Johnsons Air
    Meridian Airways
    MK Airlines
  • Indonesia
    Garuda Indonesia
  • Iceland
  • India
    Air India
  • Ireland
    Aer Turas
    Translift Airways
  • Italy
    Alitalia ♠
  • Jamaica
    Air Jamaica
  • Japan
    Japan Air Lines ♠
    Japan Asia Airways
  • Kenya
    African Safari Airways
  • Liberia
    Liberia World Airways
  • Libya
    United African Airlines
  • Luxembourg
  • Mexico
    Aeronaves de Mexico ♠
    Aeropostal Cargo de México
    Mexicana de Aviación
    Transportación Aérea Mexicana (TAM)
  • Netherlands
    KLM ♠
  • New Zealand
    Air New Zealand ♠
    Southern World Airlines
  • Nigeria
    Trans Sahel Airlines
  • Paraguay
    Líneas Aéreas Paraguayas
  • Peru
    Aerolíneas Peruanas (APSA)
    Aeronaves del Perú
    APISA Air Cargo
  • Philippines
    Philippine Airlines ♠
  • Republic of the Congo
    Hewa Bora Airways
    Kinshasa Airways
  • Scandinavia (Denmark, Norway, Sweden)
    Scandinavian Airlines System ♠
  • Singapore
    Saber Air
  • South Africa
    African International Airways
  • Spain
    Air Cargo Spain
    Air Spain
    Cygnus Air
    Iberia ♠
  • Sweden
    Air Sweden (founded as Time Air Sweden)
  • Sri Lanka
    Expo Aviation
  • Suriname
    Surinam Airways
  • Swaziland
    African International Airlines
  • Switzerland
    SATA Société Anonyme de Transports Aérien Genève
    Swissair ♠
  • Thailand
    Air Siam
    Thai Airways
  • Turkey
  • United Kingdom
    British Cargo Airlines
    IAS Cargo Airlines
    Transmeridian Air Cargo
  • United States
    ABX Air
    Airborne Express
    Airlift International ♠
    American Flyers Airline ♠
    American International Airways
    Arrow Air
    Astar Air Cargo
    Braniff Airways ♠
    Capitol International Airways ♠
    Challenge Air Cargo
    Delta Air Lines ♠
    Eastern Airlines ♠
    Emery Worldwide
    Evergreen International Airlines
    FedEx Express
    Flagship Express
    Flying Tiger Line ♠
    Hawaiian Air
    MGM Grand Air
    National Airlines ♠
    Northwest Orient Airlines ♠
    Overseas National Airways ♠
    Pacific East Air
    Pan American World Airways ♠
    Pan American-Grace Airways ♠
    Rich International Airways
    Saturn Airways ♠
    Seaboard World Airlines ♠
    Trans Caribbean Airways ♠
    Trans Continental
    Trans International Airlines ♠
    United Air Lines ♠
    United Parcel Service
    Universal Airlines ♠
    Wien Air Alaska
    World Airways
    Zantop International Airlines
  • Uruguay
  • Venezuela
    VIASA ♠
  • Zambia
    Zambia Airways

Military and government operators

  • France
    French Air Force
  • Gabon
    Government of Gabon
  • Spain
    Spanish Air Force
  • Oman
    Government of Oman
  • Peru
    Peruvian Air Force
  • Philippines
    Philippine Air Force
  • Thailand
    Royal Thai Air Force
  • United States
    United States Navy

Corporate operators

The Douglas DC-8 is and has been operated by corporate operators.

  • ORBIS International operated a DC-8 as a flying hospital

Accidents and incidents

As of May 2011, the DC-8 had been involved in 140 incidents, including 83 hull-loss accidents, with 2,256 fatalities. The DC-8 has been in 46 hijackings involving 2 fatalities.


  • 16 December 1960 - United Air Lines DC-8-11 N8013U named Mainliner Will Rogers and operating Flight 826 collided in mid-air with a Trans World Airlines Constellation over Brooklyn, New York, United States. The crash killed all 128 people on the two aircraft and six on the ground.
  • 19 January 1961 - Aeronaves de Mexico DC-8-21 XA-SAS named 20 de Noviembre was damaged beyond repair following an aborted take off at Idlewild Airport, New York, United States.
  • 30 May 1961 - KLM DC-8-53 PH-DCL named Dridtjof Nansen was operating Viasa Flight 897 on leased to VIASA when it crashed into the sea while enroute between Lisbon, Portugal and Santa Maria in the Azores. All 47 passengers and 14 crew on board the Douglas DC-8 were killed.
  • 11 July 1961 - United Air Lines Flight 859 DC-8-12 N8040U was damaged beyond repair after running off runway at Denver, Colorado, United States.
  • 7 July 1962 - Alitalia DC-8-43 I-DIWD crashed on approach to Bombay, India.
  • 20 August 1962 - Panair do Brasil DC-8-33 PP-PDT crashed into the sea after departing from Rio de Janeiro-Galeão International Airport. Of the 105 passengers and crew aboard, 15 died.
  • 29 November 1963 - Trans Canada Air Lines CF-TJN was operating Flight 831 when it crashed at Therese de Blainville, Canada. All 118 on board were killed.
  • 25 February 1964 - Eastern Air Lines DC-8-21 N8607 was operating Flight 304 when it crashed into Lake Pontchartrain north of New Orleans. All 51 passengers and 7 crew were killed.
  • 25 November 1965 - Trans Caribbean Airways N8784R named Barbara Henry II was destroyed by fire at Miami, Florida, United States.
  • 4 March 1966 - Canadian Pacific Air Lines CF-CPK named Empress of Edmonton was operating Flight 402 when it was destroyed at Tokyo-Haneda, Japan. Of the 62 passengers and 10 crew, only 8 passengers survived.
  • 4 July 1966 - Air New Zealand DC-8-52 ZK-NZB crashed on take off at Auckland, New Zealand during a training flight.
  • 13 August 1966 - Aeronaves de Mexico XA-PEI named Tenochtitlan crashed in Mexico.
  • 24 December 1966 - Aeronaves de Mexico XA-NUS named Acapulco crashed into Lake Tescoco, Mexico.
  • 4 March 1967 - VARIG DC-8-33 PP-PEA was operating Flight 837 when it crashed on approach to Robertsfield, Monrovia. Of the 71 passengers and 19 crew on board, 50 passengers and the flight engineer were killed.
  • 19 May 1967 - Trans Canada Air Lines DC-8-54F crashed on approach to Ottawa, Canada.
  • 30 July 1967 - Delta Air Lines DC-8-51 N802E crashed into the Hilton Hotel in New Orleans, United States.
  • 28 April 1968 - Capitol International Airlines DC-8-31 N1802 crashed at Atlantic City, Ney Jersey, United States during crew training.
  • 29 June 1968 - KLM DC-8-53 PH-DCH name Orville Wright was destroyed in a hangar file at Schipol Airport, Amsterdam, Netherlands.
  • 1 July 1968 - DC-8-63 N86731 was operating a military charter flight Seaboard World Airlines Flight 253A when it t was forced to land on one of the Soviet-controlled Kuril Islands with all 238 Americans aboard being detained for two days.
  • 2 August 1968 - Alitalia DC-8-43 I-DIWF named Antoniotto Usodimare crahed north-west of Milan while on approach to Malpensa, Italy.
  • 13 January 1969 - Scandinavian Airlines System LN-MOO named Sverra Viking was operating Flight 933 when it crashed on approach to Los Angeles, California, United States. Fifteen of the 45 on board were killed.
  • 17 October 1969 - Seaboard World Airlines DC-8-63CF N8634 was destroyed by fire after overunning runway at Stockton, California, United States.


  • 19 April 1970 - Scandinavian Airlines System DC-8-62 SE-DBE named Anund Viking was destroyed by fire at Rome-Flumicino Airport, Italy while taxying for take off.
  • 5 July 1970 - Air Canada DC-8-63 CF-TIW operating Flight 621 crashed north of Toronto, Canada. All 109 on board killed.
  • 27 July 1970 - Flying Tiger Line DC-8-63AF N785FT crashed on approach to Okinawa, Japan.
  • 8 September 1970 - Trans International Airlines DC-8-63CF N4863T crashed on departure from John F Kennedy Airport, New York, United States.
  • 13 September 1970 - Swissair DC-8-53 HB-IDD was destroyed by terrorist action at El Khana, Jordan.
  • 15 September 1970 - Alitalia DC-8-62 I-DIWZ named Gaetano Donizetto was damaged beyond repair following a landing at John F. Kennedy Airport, New York, United States.
  • 27 November 1970 - Capitol International Airways DC-8-63CF N4909C was destroyed following an aborted take off at Anchorage, Alaska, United States.
  • 5 May 1972 - Alitalia DC-8-43 I-DIWB named Antonio Pigafetta was operating Flight 112 when it crashed into Mount Lunga while on approach to Palermo, Italy. All 115 on board killed.
  • 14 June 1972 - Japan Air Lines DC-8-53 JA8012 named Akan crashed at Jaitour village while on approach to Delhi Airport, India.
  • 6 July 1972 - Aviaco DC-8-52 EC-ARA named Velaquez crashed into the sea near Las Palmas, Canary Islands.
  • 24 September 1972 - Japan Air Lines JA8013 named Haruna was operating Flight 472 when it was damaged beyond repair following a landing at Juha Airfield, Bombay, India.
  • 28 November 1972 - Japan Air Lines DC-8-62 JA8040 named Hilda was operating Flight 446 when it crashed on departure from Moscow-Sheremetyweo, Soviet Union.
  • 10 May 1973 - Thai Airways International DC-8-32 HS-TGU named Srisubhan overshot on landing at Katmandu, Nepal.
  • 21 June 1973 - Air Canada DC-8-53 CF-TIJ was destroyed by fire at Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
  • 8 September 1973 - World Airways DC-8-63CF N802WA crashed into Mount Dutton in Alaska, United States.
  • 23 March 1974 - Airlift International DC-8-63CF N6164A was destroyed by fire at Travis Air Force Base, United States.
  • 4 December 1974 - Martinair Holland DC-8-55F PH-MBH leased to Garuda Indonesia and operating Flight 138 when it crashed into Laxabana Hill in Sri Lanka. All 191 on board were killed.
  • 6 October 1976 - Cubana DC-8-43 CU-T1201 was operating Flight 455 when a bomb exploded causing the airliner to crash into the sea a few minutes after departing from Grantley Adams Airport, Barbados. All 78 on board killed.
  • 13 January 1977 - Japan Air Lines DC-8-62AF JA8054 crashed on take off from Anchorage, Alaska, United States.
  • 4 March 1977 - Overseas National Airways DC-8-63CF N8635 landed short of runway at Niamey, Nigeria.
  • 18 April 1977 - Philippine Airlines DC-8-53 RP-C803 was operating Philippine Airlines Flight 421 when during takeoff at Haneda, Japan it lifted off prematurely, banked, touched down, and ran off the runway tearing off the undercarriage and all 4 engines. There were no fatalities, however the aircraft was damaged beyond repair.
  • 27 September 1977 - Japan Air Lines DC-8-62 JA8051 was operating Flight 715 when it crashed in Malaysia. Thirty-four of the 70 on board were killed.
  • 11 December 1977 - Charlotte Aircraft Corporation DC-8-33F N8170A was destroyed by fire while being refueled at Lake City, Florida, United States
  • 18 December 1977 - United Air Lines DC-8-54F N8047U crashed at Wasateh Mountains in Utah, United States.
  • 3 March 1978 - Iberia DC-8-63 EC-BMX was damaged beyond repair at Santiago de Compostela, Spain.
  • 15 November 1978 - Loftleider DC-8-63CF TF-FLA was opertating flight Flight 001 when it crashed after runway overrun at Colombo, Sri Lanka.
  • 28 December 1978 - United Air Lines DC-8-61 N8082U was operating Flight 173 when it crashed near Portland, Oregon, United States. Ten of the 189 on board were killed.
  • 8 October 1979 - Swissair Flight 316, DC-8-62 HB-IDE named Uri was destroyed by fire at Athens, Greece after overunning runway on landing.


  • 1 August 1980 - Aeronaves del Peru DC-8-40 OB-R-1143 named San Martin de Porres crashed at Cerro Lilio in Mexico.
  • 12 September 1980 - Leased DC-8-33F N715UA of Aeronaves del Peru crashed at Iquitos, Peru.
  • 15 January 1981 - Overseas National Airways DC-8-61 N913R on lease to Saudia was destroyed in a hangar fire in Luxembourg.
  • 9 February 1982 - Japan Air Lines DC-8-61 JA8061 was operating Flight 350 when it crashed on approach to Haneda, Japan. Twenty-four of the 174 on board were killed.
  • 17 September 1982 - Japan Air Lines DC-8-61 named Hidaka was damaged beyond repair when it overshot runway at Shanghai, China.
  • 11 January 1983 - United Airlines DC-8-54F N8053U crashed following dual engine fire on departure from Detroit, Illinois, United States.
  • 10 March 1984 - Union de Transports Aeriens DC-8-63PF F-BOLL was destroyed by a bomb at Ndjamena, Tchad.
  • 18 September 1984 - AECA Aeroservicios Ecuatorianos DC-8-55F HC-BKN crashed on take off from Quito, Ecuador.
  • 18 September 1984 - LAC Columbia DC-8-53 HK-2380 named Capt Luis C Donaldo V was damaged beyond repair after leaving the runway at Barranquilla, Colombia.
  • 12 December 1985 - Arrow Air DC-8-63PF N950JW was operating Flight 1285 when it crashed on departure from Gander, Newfoundland. All 256 on board killed.
  • 31 March 1988 - Arax Airlines DC-8-55F 5N-ARH named Captain Ernie Trapaga crashed on departure from Cairo, Egypt.
  • 7 June 1989 - Surinam Airways DC-8-62 N1809E named Anthony Nesty was operating Flight 764 when it crashed on approach to Paramaribo, Surinam. 176 of the 187 on board were killed.
  • 10 August 1989 - APISA Air Cargo DC-8-33F OB-T1316 named Jesus es Senor was damaged beyond repair after leaving runway at Iquitos, Peru.


  • 12 March 1991 - Air Transport International DC-8-62 N730PL was destroyed by fire on take off from JFK Airport, New York, United States.
  • 11 July 1991 - Nationair DC-8-61 C-GMXQ crashed on departure from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. It was operating Nigeria Airways Flight 2120 and all 261 on board were killed.
  • 15 February 1992 - MK Air Cargo DC-8-54F 9K-MKB crashed on approach to Kano, Nigeria.
  • 15 February 1992 - Burlington Air Express DC-8-63 N794AL crashed on approach to Toledo Express Airport, Ohio, United States.


  DC-8-32 DC-8-51 DC-8-54JT (-54CF) DC-8-61 DC-8-63CF
Crew Three
Payload 176 passengers (coach)
124 passengers (mixed)
144–179 passengers (coach)
132 passengers (mixed)
132 passengers (mixed)
155–189 passengers (coach)
8 Cargo Pallets + 63 passengers (coach)
13 cargo pallets
200–212 passengers (mixed)
251–269 passengers (coach)
251–269 passengers (coach)
200–212 passengers (mixed)
Overall length 150 ft 6 in (45.87 m) 187 ft 4 in (57.10 m)
Wingspan 142 ft 5 in (43.41 m) 148 ft 5 in (45.24 m)
Overall height 43 ft 4 in (13.21 m) 43 ft 0 in (13.11 m)
Wing Area 2,771 sq ft (257.4 m2) 2,927 sq ft (271.9 m2)
Maximum Takeoff/Landing Weight 310,000 lb (140,600 kg) 199,500 lb (90,500 kg) 240,000 lb (108,862 kg) 275,000 lb (124,738 kg)
Maximum Gross Weight 310,000 lb (140,614 kg) 276,000 lb (125,191 kg) 315,000 lb (142,882 kg) 325,000 lb (147,418 kg) 355,000 lb (161,025 kg)
Powerplants (4x) Pratt & Whitney JT4A-9 turbojets,
16,800 lb (74.7 kN) each
Pratt & Whitney JT3D-1 or JT3D-3 turbofans,
17,000/18,000 lb (75.61/80.06 kN) each
Pratt & Whitney JT3D-3B turbofans,
18,000 lb (80.06 kN) each
Pratt & Whitney JT3D-7 turbofans,
19,000 lb (84.51 kN) each
Maximum cruise speed 588 mph (946 km/h) 593 mph (954 km/h) 581 mph (935 km/h) 596 mph (959 km/h)
Range (Empty Weight) 6,278 mi (10,103 km) 5,077 mi (8,171 km) 7,543 mi (12,139 km) 5,846 mi (9,408 km) 7,008 mi (11,278 km)
Cruising altitude 35,000 ft (10,668 m) 35,597.1 ft (10,850 m))
Fuel capacity 23,400 US gal (88,579 l; 19,485 imp gal) 24,275 US gal (91,891 l; 20,213 imp gal)
Number produced 43 30 15 78 53
Last updated April 13, 2012
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Douglas DC-8".
By use of this site, you accept the Terms And Conditions Of Use | Privacy Policy | Contact Us
Copyright © 2004-2018 Airplane Mart Publishing. All rights reserved...