- Aircraft History, Specification and Information -
McDonnell Douglas MD-90

The McDonnell Douglas MD-90 is a twin-engine, medium-range, single-aisle commercial jet aircraft. The MD-90 was developed from the MD-80 series. Differences from the MD-80 include more fuel efficient International Aero Engines V2500 engines and a longer fuselage. The MD-90 has a seating capacity of up to 172 passengers and was introduced into service with Delta Air Lines in 1995.

The MD-90 and the subsequent MD-95/Boeing 717 were derivatives of the MD-80 which, itself, was a derivative commercially introduced in 1980 from the DC-9.

Design and development

The Douglas Aircraft Company developed the DC-9 in the 1960s as a short-range companion to their larger DC-8. The DC-9 was an all-new design, using two rear fuselage-mounted turbofan engines, and a T-tail. The DC-9 has a narrow-body fuselage design with a 5-abreast seating with a capacity of 80 to 135 passengers depending on seating arrangement and aircraft version.

The second generation of the DC-9 was originally called the DC-9-80 series or the DC-9 Super 80 but later marketed as the MD-80 and entered service in 1980. The MD-80 series was then developed into the MD-90 entering service in 1995. The last variant of the family was the MD-95, which was renamed the Boeing 717-200 after McDonnell Douglas (successor to Douglas Aircraft Company) merged with Boeing in 1997.

The MD-90 is a mid-size, medium-range airliner that was developed from the MD-80 series. It is a 5 feet longer updated version of the MD-88 with a similar electronic flight instrument system (EFIS) and even more powerful, quieter and fuel efficient IAE V2500 engines instead of Pratt-Whitney engines, which power the MD-80 series. Typical seating for the MD-90 ranges from 153 to 172 passengers depending on seating arrangement.

The MD-90 program was launched in November 1989. The aircraft first flew on February 22, 1993 and the first MD-90 was delivered to Delta Airlines in February 1995. The MD-90 was produced adjacent to the Long Beach Airport in Long Beach, California, United States, though two aircraft were produced at Jiangwan Airfield in Shanghai, People's Republic of China. The MD-90 was produced in two versions: -30 and -30ER. The -30 had a range of 2,400 miles (3,860 km). The -30ER had a higher gross weight and range up to 2,750 miles (4,426 km) with an auxiliary fuel tank. An even longer range version, the -50 was offered but was not ordered.

The initial MD-90s featured a glass cockpit similar to the MD-88's cockpit. The 29 MD-90s delivered to Saudi Arabian Airlines feature a full glass cockpit with avionics similar to the Boeing 717's cockpit and an overhead panel similar to the MD-11's panel for easy transition for the pilots within Saudi Arabian Airlines, which operate the MD-11.

No MD-90 orders were received after Boeing and McDonnell Douglas merged in 1997 due to internal competition with Boeing's 737. Delta Air Lines had initially placed a large order for the MD-90 to replace some aging Boeing 727s. After the Boeing-McDonnell Douglas merger, Delta canceled their remaining 19 MD-90 orders in favor of the Boeing 737-800. A total of 40 MD-90s (later 20) were to be assembled under contract in Shanghai, People's Republic of China under the Trunkliner program, but Boeing's decision to phase out the MD-90 resulted in only two built by Shanghai Aircraft.

MD-90 production at Long Beach, California ended in 2000 with the last airplane being delivered to Saudi Arabian Airlines, and MD-90T production at Shanghai ended in 2000. With 116 MD-90 aircraft produced, the MD-90 production run was the smallest among the DC-9 family. The main competitors of the MD-90 included the Airbus A320 and the Boeing 737-800.


Major airlines that have operated the MD-90 include Delta Air Lines, Saudi Arabian Airlines and Japan Air System (JAS).

In August 2008, a total of 110 MD-90 aircraft (all variants) were in airline service, including:

Saudi Arabian Airlines (29)
Delta Air Lines (16)
Japan Airlines (16)
China Southern (13)
Uni Air (11)
China Eastern (9)
Hello Airlines (6)
Blue1 (5)
Lion Air (5)


Basic variant with two V2500 engines and an EFIS cockpit.

Increased Gross Weight version, one built.

Extended Range (ER) version of MD-90-30, two built.

MD-90-30T "Trunkliner"
Variant of the MD-90-30 assembled by Shanghai Aviation Industrial Corporation in the People's Republic of China. Production was initially planned to be 40, later reduced to 20, with only two built in the end. To accommodate the heavy aircraft on unsuitable runways, a dual tandem landing gear with more tires to spread the weight of the aircraft was designed for the Trunkliner, but ultimately not used in the two aircraft produced. The ACAC ARJ21 is built using tooling sold for the MD-90-30.

Incidents and accidents

As of September 2009, the MD-90 has been involved in 59 incidents, including 1 hull-loss accident, with 1 fatality.

Notable accidents and incidents
An MD-90 was involved in one hull-loss accident in 1999 when a UNI Air aircraft caught fire after a passenger's carry-on luggage containing gasoline ignited another passenger's carry-on luggage containing a motorcycle battery. One person was killed as a result of the cabin fire.


MD-90-30 MD-90-30ER
Passengers 153 (2 class)
172 (1 class)
Max Take-off Weight 156,000 lb
(70,760 kg)
168,000 lb
(76,204 kg)
Range 2,085 NM (3,860 km) 2,172 NM (4,023 km)
*2,389 NM (4,424 km)
Typical Cruise Speed Mach 0.76 (504 mph, 811 km/h)
Length 152 ft 7 in
(46.5 m)
Wing span 107 ft 10 in
(32.87 m)
Height 30 ft 6 in
(9.4 m)
Power plant (2 x) IAE V2525-D5
25,000 lbf (111.21 kN)
Optional: IAE V2528-D5
28,000 lbf (124.55 kN)
Last updated December 18, 2009
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "McDonnell Douglas MD-90".
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