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MD-80 Family Of Aircaft Being Retired Early?  
User currently offlineGilesdavies From United Kingdom, joined Dec 2003, 3025 posts, RR: 2
Posted (9 years 2 months 3 weeks 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 6293 times:

Why do so many airlines seem to be retiring their MD-80 family of aircraft so early in their lives?

I was just viewing the photo's of Austrian Airlines retiring their MD-87 aircraft in favour for the usual boring A320 family. This seems to be a growing a trend (esspecially in Europe) with Scandanavian, Iberia, Swiss and Alitalia all doing the same and all of these were major "Mad Dog" operators.

Many of these aircrafts are less than 20yrs old and were built in the 1980s and early 1990's.

Is it purely to do with economic reasons - for example fuel costs and parts?

I remember reading about a year or two back in an article in Airliner World Magazine about JetsGo that operated the MD-80 aircraft and the CEO explained how the operating costs and reliability were as good as the A320 or 737NG.

In the latter years of MD they produced the MD-88 and MD-90 which were competing with Airbus and Boeing and almost as technological advance and airlines are even now choosing to dump these aircraft.

I think it is sad to see such a great aircraft demise so prematurely, when they could continue to operate for a good few more years. Fortunately AA will hopefully continue to operate them for a good few more years to come.

37 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineTheSonntag From Germany, joined Jun 2005, 3595 posts, RR: 29
Reply 1, posted (9 years 2 months 3 weeks 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 6275 times:

Well, I think there are several reasons, but the most important reasons is noise I think. The JT-8D 200 series is still a JT-8D, even though some things were changed. Compared to the CFM56, it is an outdated, noisy engine. As many landing fees are based on noise, this increases the costs compared to an A320.

It is sad, because I really like the MDs from a passenger point of view, but lets face it: The A320 was more than one generation ahead of the MD80s when it was introduced, the 737NG is also much more advanced, so today the MDs are not really that modern anymore.

But if you want to see MDs, go to Copenhagen, SAS is still flying a lot of them. On that occasion, you can also hear the noise difference between an A320 and a MD80. The MD80 is a lot louder.

Regards,
Michael


User currently offlineNkops From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 2665 posts, RR: 6
Reply 2, posted (9 years 2 months 3 weeks 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 5987 times:

I know for us, the MD80 burns a lot more fuel than the A319 or A321, and with fuel costs hovering around $60/ barrel, that is a big reason we have accelerated the MD80 retirement.


I have no association with Spirit Airlines
User currently offlineDutchjet From Netherlands, joined Oct 2000, 7864 posts, RR: 57
Reply 3, posted (9 years 2 months 3 weeks 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 5936 times:

Firstly, most MD80s are still in productive revenue service and will be for many years to come.

The simple fact is that the MD80, while a good aircraft, is outclassed by the newer and more advanced 737NG and A32X families of aircraft.....more range, lower fuel burn, etc, etc. Also, early build MD80s are getting close to 25 years old, and as the MD80 generally flies shorter haul routes, many MD80s are high cycle airframes, resulting in higher maintainance costs. Also consider that the MD80 is noisy - it just meets Stage 3 standards. Thus, arilines are beginning to phase out the type in favor of newer models.


User currently offlineCslusarc From Canada, joined May 2005, 840 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (9 years 2 months 3 weeks 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 5891 times:

I'm quite surprised that older aircraft like the MD-80s, MD-90s and second generation 737-500s/-300s/-400s are not migrating over to developing nations who operate airliners like the DC-9s and first generation 737-100s/200s.

I'm also surprised that new startups in India and other growth areas in the world aren't picking up second hand airliners like they have in the past.

I think the US legacy carriers would benefit significantly if some Indian carrier bought all of DL's MD-90s.



--cslusarc from YWG
User currently offlineBennett123 From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2004, 7611 posts, RR: 3
Reply 5, posted (9 years 2 months 3 weeks 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 5873 times:

I understand that Stage 4 comes in next year.

The standard MD80 does not meet it.


User currently offlineCommavia From United States of America, joined Apr 2005, 11637 posts, RR: 61
Reply 6, posted (9 years 2 months 3 weeks 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 5875 times:

Quoting Gilesdavies (Thread starter):
Is it purely to do with economic reasons - for example fuel costs and parts?

I doubt it. Even more than twenty years after entry into service, the MD80 still has excellent reliability, operational performance and economics.

Quoting Gilesdavies (Thread starter):
I remember reading about a year or two back in an article in Airliner World Magazine about JetsGo that operated the MD-80 aircraft and the CEO explained how the operating costs and reliability were as good as the A320 or 737NG.

This is true. Amazingly, MD80s that were literally built before the first 737NG or A320 even flew can still compete with those much newer aircraft on basic economics. MD80s are tough, reliable planes and are actually fairly efficient, even when compared to much younger competiting models, which is why the U.S. carriers that still have them -- AA and DL -- are going to keep them around.

Quoting Gilesdavies (Thread starter):
Fortunately AA will hopefully continue to operate them for a good few more years to come.

I think that is very safe to say. AA's MD80s, now more than 330 of them, aren't going anywhere anytime soon.

Quoting Dutchjet (Reply 3):
The simple fact is that the MD80, while a good aircraft, is outclassed by the newer and more advanced 737NG and A32X families of aircraft.....more range, lower fuel burn, etc, etc.

I'm sorry, but I will have to respectfully disagree with you there. The MD80s may not have as much range as the 737NG or A320, and may burn slightly more fuel on similar stages, but in general, they still -- even at over 20 years old -- have fairly good operating economics. I remember once hearing a few pilots talking about how the MD80s, on a purely operational basis, were basically cash machines -- they were very reliable, cutting down on maintenance and logistical costs, and they were extremely efficient.

As to being "outclassed" -- maybe I'm alone here, but I personally will take the first 10-15 rows of an MD80 over any seat on a 737 or A320 any day. As long as you aren't sitting right next to the engine, or in the last 4-5 rows of Coach, IMO, you can't beat the MD80's comfort. And, I love 2-3 seating -- less chance of a middle seat!

Quoting Dutchjet (Reply 3):
Also, early build MD80s are getting close to 25 years old, and as the MD80 generally flies shorter haul routes, many MD80s are high cycle airframes, resulting in higher maintainance costs.

Didn't people say the same thing ten years ago about NW's DC9s? Some of those are easily 10 years older than AA or DL's oldest MD80, with probably more cycles on them too. And yet, NW is still maintaining them well, and they are still flying reliably and efficiently. Of course, a brand new 737 or A320 is always going to have lower maintenance costs than a 20-year-old MD80, but I doubt the higher maintenance expense is grossly detremental to the airlines' operating economics on the planes.


User currently offlineBennett123 From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2004, 7611 posts, RR: 3
Reply 7, posted (9 years 2 months 3 weeks 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 5861 times:

I think that US and EU attitudes to noise are very different.

One reason being that many European countries are more crowded than the US, hence more angry neighbours.

Some US states are so empty that you could operate B707's and no one would hear it.


User currently offlineSllevin From United States of America, joined Jan 2002, 3376 posts, RR: 6
Reply 8, posted (9 years 2 months 3 weeks 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 5842 times:

The MD-80 is sort of a 'split generation' aircraft. It was ahead of its time with the 'mid-high bypass' -200 series of JT8 engines -- but within a decade, the CFM56 and V2500, what I would term 'new generation' with truly high bypass engines, were all over.

However, I think you'll see the MD-80 live long in the second tier market as Stage IV makes DC-9's and 737-200's uneconomical.

Steve


User currently offlineBoeing7E7 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 9, posted (9 years 2 months 3 weeks 6 days 4 hours ago) and read 5794 times:

1. Fuel burn is much higher than it needs to be - between 950 and 1,000 gph (A 737-800 burns about 800).
2. Noise levels are a bit much.
3. Cabins are dated.

Perhaps an engine and cabin retrofit can change that, but most are at an age where it may not be worth it. They really are "tweener" aircraft in terms of where they fall in the cycle of aircraft progression.

[Edited 2005-06-27 02:45:54]

User currently offlineLightsaber From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 13130 posts, RR: 100
Reply 10, posted (9 years 2 months 3 weeks 6 days 3 hours ago) and read 5723 times:
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Quoting TheSonntag (Reply 1):
Compared to the CFM56, it is an outdated, noisy engine.

True. I conceede the JT-8D is out of date on fuel burn and noise. But... it is the lowest cost engine per takeoff or flight hour for maintenance! Its only when oil is >$28/bbl that the JT-8D looks bad. (At $60/bbl I'll admit it looks like a dog.) FYI, my contacts are informing me what was sellable for an engine 3 years ago now isn't even been considered by airframers. CFD and other technologies have boosted possible engine efficiency dramatically over the last few years.

Quoting Bennett123 (Reply 5):
I understand that Stage 4 comes in next year.

Stage 4 is for *new* production aircraft. At a minimum, stage 3 won't be regulated out of use for 15+ years. Even then, it will be a *huge* political fight to ban stage 3 aircraft. And... Pratt has a mixing kit to make the JT-8D-219 Stage 4 compliant!

Lightsaber



Societies that achieve a critical mass of ideas achieve self sustaining growth; others stagnate.
User currently offlineUSAir330 From United States of America, joined Mar 2002, 824 posts, RR: 1
Reply 11, posted (9 years 2 months 3 weeks 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 5537 times:

I flew to Florida back in March and flew on a 737-800 and three MD-88. If the MD-88 is that quiet from inside the cabin, I can only imagine how quiet the 717 is. Big grin

User currently offlineNA From Germany, joined Dec 1999, 10736 posts, RR: 9
Reply 12, posted (9 years 2 months 3 weeks 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 5028 times:

Quoting Gilesdavies (Thread starter):
I remember reading about a year or two back in an article in Airliner World Magazine about JetsGo that operated the MD-80 aircraft and the CEO explained how the operating costs and reliability were as good as the A320 or 737NG.

Strange, the CEO of Spirit says the direct opposite in the last issue of Aero international, having decided to phase out the thirsty MD-80s very soon.

One thing is sure, of all the somewhat still modern jets the MD-80 is the noisiest. Hell, a MD-80 takeoff is a lot louder than a 744 four times that size!
I agree that the cabin is very outdated in looks, though sitting in the quiet twoseater row in businessclass in front of a MD-80 is preferrable to the equivalent in A320s or 737s.


User currently offlineD950 From United States of America, joined Jul 2004, 493 posts, RR: 2
Reply 13, posted (9 years 2 months 3 weeks 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 4832 times:

Quoting Gilesdavies (Thread starter):
I think the US legacy carriers would benefit significantly if some Indian carrier bought all of DL's MD-90s

To the contrary, DL is getting better fuel numbers on the MD90 than the 738, maybe DL should buy all of Saudi's MD90's.



Resting on your laurels is a synonym for flirting with disaster
User currently offlineAM744 From Mexico, joined Jun 2001, 1779 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (9 years 2 months 3 weeks 5 days 14 hours ago) and read 4761 times:

Quoting Commavia (Reply 6):
As to being "outclassed" -- maybe I'm alone here, but I personally will take the first 10-15 rows of an MD80 over any seat on a 737 or A320 any day. As long as you aren't sitting right next to the engine, or in the last 4-5 rows of Coach, IMO, you can't beat the MD80's comfort. And, I love 2-3 seating -- less chance of a middle seat!

Amen to that


User currently offlineHalls120 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 15, posted (9 years 2 months 3 weeks 5 days 14 hours ago) and read 4713 times:

Quoting Commavia (Reply 6):
I remember once hearing a few pilots talking about how the MD80s, on a purely operational basis, were basically cash machines -- they were very reliable, cutting down on maintenance and logistical costs, and they were extremely efficient.

My brother is a DL pilot, and he has said almost the exact same thing to me regarding Delta's MD's. He said they were Delta's money machine....


User currently offlineRayChuang From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 8017 posts, RR: 5
Reply 16, posted (9 years 2 months 3 weeks 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 4639 times:

I think the MD-80's could get a new lease on life if Boeing is willing to work with Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce to provide a re-engining kit.

Remember, AA and DL have substantial MD-80 series fleets, and re-engining them with the Pratt & Whitney PW6024 or the proposed Rolls-Royce Deutschland BR720--both engines rated at 24,000 lb. thrust--could provide AA and DL with a more quiet and fuel-efficient plane that will allow the MD-80 fleets to operate well past 2015.  Smile


User currently offlineDALMD88 From United States of America, joined Jul 2000, 2554 posts, RR: 14
Reply 17, posted (9 years 2 months 3 weeks 5 days 10 hours ago) and read 4467 times:

I doubt DL will be changing the engines on it's MD88 fleet. After the 737-200/300 fleet is retired I would expect to see the MD-88 fleet being let go in favor of new 737-700/800. We are slated to begin taking new deliveries again next year. This would begin eliminating another fleet type and save the cost of overhauling the entire fleet a fourth time.

User currently offlineCslusarc From Canada, joined May 2005, 840 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (9 years 2 months 3 weeks 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 4443 times:

I would prefer it DL dumped all its 737s (including the -200s, -300s, -300Gs,and -800s). The 737-800s are more marketable than the MD-80s/MD-90s,


--cslusarc from YWG
User currently offlineVegasplanes From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 778 posts, RR: 2
Reply 19, posted (9 years 2 months 3 weeks 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 4428 times:

AA is the 800 pound Gorilla of the Mad Dog fleets. The question for AA is are they planning to keep the MD80 fleet, re-model the interior, and fly them until they turn Forty years old (such as NW with the DC9), or might they start looking at the 737-700/800 as replacements as they already fly a healthy fleet of 738's?

User currently offlineTnsaf From Canada, joined Oct 2004, 123 posts, RR: 1
Reply 20, posted (9 years 2 months 3 weeks 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 4400 times:

A program to re-engine an airplane is tough to work out economically. New engines run easily about $1.5M each, add to that the re-work of the airframe and finally the cost of the certification and you end up investing more in the airframe than it is worth.


700 hours and counting...
User currently offlineCommavia From United States of America, joined Apr 2005, 11637 posts, RR: 61
Reply 21, posted (9 years 2 months 3 weeks 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 4376 times:

Quoting Vegasplanes (Reply 19):
The question for AA is are they planning to keep the MD80 fleet, re-model the interior, and fly them until they turn Forty years old (such as NW with the DC9), or might they start looking at the 737-700/800 as replacements as they already fly a healthy fleet of 738's?

Well, AA's first new 737 is going to be arriving for another eight years. In addition, AA has already spent millions completely refurbishing the MD80 interiors and, IMHO, they look great. They have also reconfigured the plane with a slightly larger F class and expanded Y capacity through putting back in one of the rows taken out from MRTC. All of this together, I think AA is definitely committed to flying the MD80s for a very long time to come as, just like with NW -- the example you cite, AA owns most of its MD80s outright and as such has enormous operational and financial flexibility with the planes to deal with the ups and downs of this highly cyclical business.


User currently offlineD950 From United States of America, joined Jul 2004, 493 posts, RR: 2
Reply 22, posted (9 years 2 months 3 weeks 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 4358 times:

I still scratch my head and wonder why AA gave back the MD90's. Every operator of them is attaining excellent fuel numbers. I had the good fortune of riding them into SNA, plus, unlike the 80's they had IFE. AA used to actually market the MD90 in some of their ads as the plane of the 21st century.


Resting on your laurels is a synonym for flirting with disaster
User currently offlineVatveng From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 968 posts, RR: 1
Reply 23, posted (9 years 2 months 3 weeks 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 4316 times:

Quoting USAir330 (Reply 11):
If the MD-88 is that quiet from inside the cabin, I can only imagine how quiet the 717 is.

VERY quiet, forward of the wing! And even as far back as row 25 it's not too bad. Rows 26-31 are the noisiest. Although I've always found it is louder, but a more "muffled loud" (if that makes any sense) in the rear lavatories.

But up in Biz or the first 5 rows of Y, you hardly even hear the engines spool up for takeoff!



Visited VA,NC,PA,SC,FL,GA,OH,AL,TX,TN,CO,CA,UT,NV,NM,IN,KY,MD,MO,CT,MA,NH,ME.
User currently offlineMD-90 From United States of America, joined Jan 2000, 8507 posts, RR: 12
Reply 24, posted (9 years 2 months 3 weeks 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 4296 times:

D950, you're referring to the 717, right? AA never purchased the MD-90, although they did get a few from Reno Air. I would wonder why AA would call the MD-90 their plane of the future when they weren't committed to buying them.

I like the 3-2 seating and the min-cabin in the back (bring earplugs, then it's fine). I hope Delta flies their -88s for a long time (knowing them, they probably will).

[Edited 2005-06-27 22:53:10]

25 Flashmeister : I'd be very surprised to see Boeing play any re-engining role with AA/DL unless it also involved new orders of the 737 replacement, and the re-enginin
26 D950 : MD90 (great name) Sorry for the confusion, I was indeed referring to the Reno MD90's which they flew for a time before sending them to the desert. In
27 Commavia : Because AA only had 5 of them, all ex-RA, and all operating solely on the West Coast. IIRC, about 75% of the MD90 flights AA had after the RA purchas
28 Brons2 : Which probably tells you what a huge error it was for McD to not get the MD90 right from a reliability standpoint. That plane could have made them mo
29 SLUAviator : Bennett123, if the US is so empty and noise complacent, then why were we Stage 3 compliant years before all of Europe was? I think with exception of a
30 Post contains links and images 3201 : The former QQ ones: View Large View MediumPhoto © Mark Durbin
31 Brons2 : You're wrong on this one. Have you been to Europe? It has a much higher population density than the US, even outside the major cities. To give one ex
32 ScottB : The appearance of the interior is wholly dependent on the operator. I've been on a couple of Delta's refurbished MD-88's and I found them to be quite
33 Ckfred : AA did a major renovation of the MD-80s cabins in 1999, replacing the seats, the carpeting, and the wall panels. They even received new window shades,
34 Vegasplanes : Continental has retired their MD80 fleet as of earlier this year. Alaska Airlines recently placed a large order for 737/8/9, some of which are slated
35 Vegasplanes : I forgot about US Airways and Northwest having retired their MD80 fleet as well. NW inherited a small fleet from the Republic merger.
36 Commavia : Slight correction: AA's 737 deliveries have been delayed until 2013, not 2010 ... a long time away.
37 Bennett123 : SLUaviator I did not say that the US is complacent about noise. As you say some areas in the US are very noise aware, such as SNA. However, the US has
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