Back in the early 1980s, American Airlines took a bet on the MD-80. McDonnell Douglas was desperate for business. American’s CEO at the time (Bob Crandall) negotiated a sweetheart deal that allowed American to establish hubs (and eventually a fortress hub like DFW) across the United States. After the acquisition of TWA, the fleet grew to approximately 370 in service at its peak. It was the go to jet for short and medium routes until the 737-800 and eventually A320 series began to take over its duties in the mid-2000s.
By the end of 2019, American will have removed all of its MD-80s from service.
This video features a sleek, shiny, red, white, blue and silver Mad Dog 80 screaming down the runway on a hazy afternoon at San Jose International airport. View the surrounding office buildings and the beautiful mountains beyond. Notice how the plane’s wings are located near the tail, toward the end of a very long fuselage.
The MD-80 featured in this video, with tail number N557AN, was retired in 2015.
About the MD-80
The MD-80 is twin engine, single aisle, narrow body commercial jet airliner, manufactured by McDonnell Douglas, and later by Boeing. It is a mid size, medium range airliner. This slender aircraft has a number of variants, including the MD-81, the MD-82, the MD-83, the MD-87, and MD-88. The MD-80 can seat anywhere from 130 to 172 passengers, depending on the variant. Each variant also features upgrades in the cockpit and avionics.
The aircraft took its maiden voyage on October 18th of 1979. However, two MD-80 aircraft were severely damaged during the test flights. Despite the early design issues, the MD-80 underwent improvements. The first variant of the MD-80 was introduced with Swissair in October of 1980. The MD-80 series was eventually modified into the MD-90 series.
Almost 1,200 MD-80 aircraft were built between 1979 and 1999, at a unit cost in the 40 million dollar range.