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Reason For Lack Of Success Of MD-90?  
User currently offlinePopfly From United States of America, joined Dec 2004, 39 posts, RR: 0
Posted (11 years 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 3762 times:

It seems like the MD-90 had all the ingredients for a successful airplane: added passenger seats, modern avionics, new quiet IAE 2500 environmentally friendly engines, seemingly good performance (with great climb). So... what went wrong? How come it didn't sell in greater numbers and (from what I can gather) why did some airlines get rid of it?

[Edited 2005-02-08 21:18:48]

[Edited 2005-02-08 21:19:11]

14 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineLUV4JFK From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 462 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (11 years 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 3717 times:

Well, for one thing it had big competition against the Airbus 320 and especially the Boeing 738. Since Boeing bought McDonnell Douglas, it didn't seem to make much sense to produce two aircraft that served the same purpose. That is also the same reason that the MD-11 (against 777) no longer exists and soon the 717. Even though 717 sales are better than 736 sales, the plane is still an MD product with no commonality to any currently made aircraft.

 Big thumbs up

John F. Kennedy International Airport: Where America Greets The World.
User currently offlineSrbmod From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 2, posted (11 years 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 3713 times:

There were teething problems involving several of the systems that lead to a good chunk of the orders to get cancelled. Delta had planned on using the MD-90 to replace their 727s, but with the problems they had with the 90s, they cancelled and replaced the 727s with 738s.

User currently offlineDALMD88 From United States of America, joined Jul 2000, 2847 posts, RR: 13
Reply 3, posted (11 years 2 days 7 hours ago) and read 3681 times:

The 90 was already in bad shape before the merger. It had a lot of teething problems when it was introduced. At DL it was called Minimum Delay-90min. It seemed the new electronics were rushed and there were also some early engine problems I've been told. When I took the MD88 class the instructor, who also teaches MD90, said the engines seemed to know they were no longer riding under the wing. They took some time to get used to being hung off the side. Now most of the problems have been worked out and it is a very reliable fleet.

DL had 50 firm orders and options for 110. It was slated to be the 727 replacement aircraft. Between the problems with the plane and the problems with the PanAm merger the orders were canceled. I think this was the death knell for the 90 and also Douglas.

User currently onlineAAR90 From United States of America, joined Jan 2000, 3568 posts, RR: 43
Reply 4, posted (11 years 2 days 7 hours ago) and read 3677 times:

A. Bad market timing (plenty of competition).
B. Lots of initial teething problems (lot of unique systems).
C. Poor initial manufacturer support (not good with B above).
D. Poor marketing.

*NO CARRIER* -- A Naval Aviator's worst nightmare!
User currently offlineSU184 From Egypt, joined Feb 2004, 270 posts, RR: 10
Reply 5, posted (11 years 2 days 7 hours ago) and read 3636 times:

Some information on the operational side, the empty weight of the MD90 is about 4 tons higher than the MD83 resulting from the heavier engines and the required fuselage plug to counter this rear weight, this weight increase should have required a redesigned/enlarged wing which didn't happen, this gave it marginal performance on long sectors as you had to fly at relativley low FL280-290 till fuel is burnt and you can climb to more economical cruise levels, you also had avoid bad weather rather fly above most of it, finally as others said Boeing's take over killed it.

User currently offlineTransSwede From United States of America, joined Sep 2001, 1001 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (11 years 2 days 7 hours ago) and read 3623 times:

Too bad, the -90 is probably my favorite airliner... quiet, and performs like a rocket.

User currently offlineYyz717 From Canada, joined Sep 2001, 16501 posts, RR: 54
Reply 7, posted (11 years 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 3535 times:

As mentioned, the teething problems contributed alot of problems. DL's initial order was for 31 aircraft, with 102 options (if memory serves). They indicated the intent to build up a large fleet of M90's. The order was suspended after 16 were delivered. Although the teething problems were solved, and DL eventually were happy with the M90 fleet, the 738 was then on the scene.

Another critical order which was lost was Alaska Airlines. Alaska initially ordered 20 M90's, later reduced to 10 and then cancelled outright before the M90 was certified. The inability to entice existing M80 customers to step up to the M90 was also a failure.

Another problem with the M90 was a lack of range for US transcon service. The range fell betw the M82 & M83. This reduced the potential customer base.

I dumped at the gybe mark in strong winds when I looked up at a Porter Q400 on finals. Can't stop spotting.
User currently offlinePopfly From United States of America, joined Dec 2004, 39 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (11 years 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 3519 times:

Thank you for those informative replies. Am I to understand that it is now doing well in fleet service? Do pilots like it?

User currently offlineRoseFlyer From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 10909 posts, RR: 52
Reply 9, posted (11 years 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 3488 times:

One place that it is still doing really well in is Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabian has a rather large fleet of the planes, and uses them due to their great field performance from the less then ideal temperatures in Saudi Arabia.

The MD-90, just like the MD-11 was rushed into service. McDonnell Douglas cut back on the financing dollars and kept too much old stuff in the plane in order to beat the competition (737NGs or 777s). I think a bigger and newer wing and a more thorough desing process would have saved both of the MD-90 and MD-11. Both suffered from old technology trying to be fused together with new technology which resulted in large teeting issues for both planes, and the added bonus of not meeting the promisted objectives. If the MD-90 could do transcons like the 738, and hadn't had the electrical problems, then it probably would have kept up with the Boeing competition. Unfortunately McD was desperate and didn't have the money to redesign planes that would successfully compete with A and B.

It is not that they didn't want to, but they didn't have the available resources or funding. Another reason goes back to the DC-8. The DC-8 had a massively long development process. When it came out it was arguable a superior plane to the 707, but lost out because it took almost 5 extra years. Boeing won that time because they beat Douglas. Douglas learned its lesson though and with the MD-11 and MD-90, it gave up on trying to have the best possible plane, and pushed it through design in order to make it to the market first. Unfortunately form McD, they lost again because the market had shifted away from wanting anything new, to wanting the best.

If you have never designed an airplane part before, let the real designers do the work!
User currently offlineSU184 From Egypt, joined Feb 2004, 270 posts, RR: 10
Reply 10, posted (11 years 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 3470 times:

Simply, NO, we didn't like, we had 4 of them, we had several engine problems for no apparent reason, IAE engineers spent quite sometime to try to figure what were the causes but nothing useful was known, finally got rid of them and now flying MD83's instead.

User currently offlineBoeing7E7 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 11, posted (11 years 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 3458 times:

$600 an hour in maintenance costs.

Any questions?

User currently offlineNbgskygod From United States of America, joined May 2004, 919 posts, RR: 1
Reply 12, posted (11 years 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 3219 times:

Another issue was the cockpit. The orrigninal plans for the 90 was a full glass cockpit. That was changed to make it more like the late model MD-80s, thus easier for cross training of MD-80 flight crews. However, the glass cockpit was an option that was taken by Saudia, they are the only operator of the glass MD90 that I know of.

Pilots are idots, who at any given moment will attempt to kill themselves or others.
User currently offlineGigneil From United States of America, joined Nov 2002, 16347 posts, RR: 79
Reply 13, posted (11 years 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 3199 times:

Delta had announced that the MD-90 was their "plane for the 21st century".

Too bad.


User currently offlineBoeing7E7 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 14, posted (11 years 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 3161 times:

"WAS" being the operative word. The MD-11 was looking good too. Freakin' Douglas blew it.

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