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Differentiating MD-80 Series Jets  
User currently offlineTupolev154B2 From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 1332 posts, RR: 2
Posted (15 years 2 weeks 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 2076 times:

How can you tell the difference between each of the MD-80 series jets? For example, MD-81 from MD-82 from MD-83. Thanks.

10 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineIahcsr From United States of America, joined Jun 1999, 3582 posts, RR: 39
Reply 1, posted (15 years 2 weeks 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 1994 times:
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The differences between the -81/2/3 are all internal. I can't think of any way to know from an outside view. The -87 is shorter then the others. The -88 .. I can't recall if that one has any visible outside changes or not.

Working very hard to Fly Right....
User currently offlinePeter From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 570 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (15 years 2 weeks 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 1995 times:

Here's an MD-81
Click for large version
Click here for full size photo!

Photo © George Polfliet

The back of that plane is differant than on this MD-88
Click for large version
Click here for full size photo!

Photo © Martin Bugajski

User currently offlineMd80forum From Finland, joined May 1999, 157 posts, RR: 1
Reply 3, posted (15 years 2 weeks 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 1967 times:

Nope, Peter, it's not that easy.

The "screwdriver tail", which reduces drag significantly has been retrofitted to a number of early-production aircraft, also MD81's, so that is in general no way of telling the aircraft models from eachother.

LAHCSR is correct in that the MD87 is shorter than the others. One visible sign is also that it has a 1 ft (30 cm) higher tailfin than the others, to balance the shorter fuselage. Also, if you can count only 2-3 windows aft of the wing, it's an MD87.

Jan-Erik Andelin

User currently offlineTrintocan From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2000, 3278 posts, RR: 4
Reply 4, posted (15 years 2 weeks 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 1932 times:

Yes, the differences are mostly internal or technical. The MD82 features upgraded engines over the -81 while the -83 features the newer engines plus expanded fuel tankage, which extends its range over the earlier models. This accounts for the popularity of the -83 version. The -88 features a new six-screen EFIS cockpit and several drag-reducing modifications applied to the standard-fuselage MD80s. These -88 features were actually debuted on the -87, which has a shorter fuselage comparable with DC9-50 which resulted in extended range as well. To compensate for the reduced moment arm of the shorter fuselage, the tailfin was heightened and that extension can be seen above the stabilizers. The -87 was pitched as a direct DC-9-30 replacement but it sold the worst of the five versions. Only 77 were built, while the others were produced in the hundreds.

Hopefully that answers your question. Aside from the -87, they are difficult to tell apart visually unless you know which variant(s) the particular airline uses.


Hop to it, fly for life!
User currently offlineDelta737 From United States of America, joined Jun 1999, 516 posts, RR: 10
Reply 5, posted (15 years 2 weeks 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 1909 times:

They're all DC-9's! haha-

Besides length, there's really not much difference until you start comparing instrumentation. The MD-88 has the "flat plate" digital engine instruments, JT8D-219 engines, EFIS (only four tube actually) and either the AHRS or IRS for navigation.

The big change came when the -90 came around with the V-2500 engines, rakish-looking tail and engine pylon flaps to help with pitch control - they almost resemble ailerons on the engine pylons. Plus the -90's electrical system is A LOT nicer than the -88 especially when it comes to engine starts.

The -88 has an amazingly quiet flight deck whereas the -90 is much louder because of the VSCF air scoop/intake underneath the right side of the cockpit. Also, the -90 has hydraulically augmentated pitch control.

Doug Taylor
Delta MD-88/90 FO

User currently offlineMD-90 From United States of America, joined Jan 2000, 8515 posts, RR: 11
Reply 6, posted (15 years 2 weeks 22 hours ago) and read 1899 times:

Do you fly for Delta, as it would seem? Are you the one who decided to switch from the 737 to the MD-90 or 767 and chose the MD-90? I also can't imagine why MD didn't use an air scoop that generates less drag. I can't remember their name, but the scoops like those under the front of a L-1011 are the most efficient. The 777 also has the chunkier "square" scoops. Why? The L-1011 type generate less drag and have higher mass flows. I suppose that they're more expensive to make, though. I think the flat ones use see a lot of (especially on fast homebuilts like Long-EZs, Lancairs, and Glasairs) are called NCAA type air intakes. The lack the lip around the front edge that the L-1011's have.

I think you just have to know what an airline flies to know the aircraft. If it's American, you know you'll be on a MD-82. Ditto for Delta and their MD-88s. I believe TWA flies mostly MD-83s. The easiest thing is just to call them the following:

1. DC-9
2. DC-9 Super 80 (my favorite, however MD-80 is also acceptable)
3. MD-90
4. 717

That's all the differentiation absolutely necessary. And I still think that MD-80/MD-90/717's climb better than 737s or A320s. 

User currently offlineShamu507 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 7, posted (15 years 2 weeks 18 hours ago) and read 1878 times:

I'm Sorry but at my View of the Delta MD-88, It does not have 6 efis screens, The Dials are better than those on the MD-9-30 (My more technical name for the DC-9-30) Anyway, The 717 is the BEST MD plane ever built, even though Boeing Built it, It would never have been in the sky had McDonnell Douglas never thought of it. Good Luck to the McDonnell Douglas MD-95

User currently offlineDvk From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 1058 posts, RR: 1
Reply 8, posted (15 years 2 weeks 9 hours ago) and read 1860 times:

Which versions of the MD-80 are flown by Continental and Alaska Airlines? Also, did any particular airlines get most of the small number of MD-87's produced?

I'm not dumb. I just have a command of thoroughly useless information.
User currently offlineMd80forum From Finland, joined May 1999, 157 posts, RR: 1
Reply 9, posted (14 years 12 months 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 1830 times:

Continental flies overwhelmingly MD82. Alaska flies mainly MD83.

Continental has 60x MD82 / 5x MD81 / 4x MD83
Alaska has 29x MD83 / 5x MD82

The largest fleets of MD87 are operated by Iberia (24) and Scandinavian (18).

Jan-Erik Andelin
MD80 International Forum

User currently offlineTrintocan From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2000, 3278 posts, RR: 4
Reply 10, posted (14 years 12 months 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 1794 times:

American does operate at least 33 MD83 in addition to the over 200 MD82; some of those had been acquired from Reno Air while others had been obtained beforehand. In addition they got 5 MD87 from Reno as well as some MD90 (they are trying to dispose of those).

Thanks a lot about the cockpit of MD88, guys.


Hop to it, fly for life!
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