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MD-11 Can Of Worms  
User currently offlineMike_mit From United States of America, joined Oct 2000, 81 posts, RR: 0
Posted (14 years 2 months 1 week 4 hours ago) and read 3137 times:

Okay, not to open a can of worms, but what is the consensus on the MD-11. Some love, others hate it. Finnair uses the MD-11 as it lone long-haul aircraft. Who else uses the DM-11 (aside from the former Swiss Air) as its sole long-haul aircraft. Just curious about people's thoughts: who has ridden on it, who has opinions? Personally, I love the look of the MD-11 but I wonder was it obsolete before it even took flight.
Sign me...a glutten for punishment.

34 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
User currently offlineThumper From United States of America, joined Nov 2001, 550 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (14 years 2 months 1 week 4 hours ago) and read 2855 times:

I have flown on Delta's MD-11'S across the pond many times and I think they are great! They are quiet and comfortable! Never had any problems!

User currently offlineAviasian From Singapore, joined Jan 2001, 1490 posts, RR: 14
Reply 2, posted (14 years 2 months 1 week 3 hours ago) and read 2781 times:

I have flown :

Finnair MD-11 from BKK-SIN and SIN-BKK
Swissair MD-11 from BKK-SIN and SIN-BKK
Thai MD-11 from BKK-DAC and DAC-BKK and BKK-HKT
JAL MD-11 from NRT-SIN
EVA Air MD-11 from BKK-TPE
Malaysian MD-11 from KUL-HKG (lsd fm World AW)

and I loved it! The MD-11 is spacious, quiet and most comfortable . . . with a climb like no other!

Don't count on everyone feeling the same . . . for every airliner, there is someone who loves it, someone who simply likes it, someone who is indifferent, someone who does not like it, and someone who hates it.

KC Sim

User currently offlineCV990A From United States of America, joined Sep 1999, 1479 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (14 years 2 months 1 week 2 hours ago) and read 2736 times:

I flew on a China Eastern MD-11 from PEK-Shanghai and loved it. Sadly I think it's not that popular with airlines because the third engine increases operating costs and there isn't a performance benefit compared to A330/777 aircraft.

Kittens Give Morbo Gas
User currently offlineJhooper From United States of America, joined Dec 2001, 6210 posts, RR: 11
Reply 4, posted (14 years 2 months 1 week 2 hours ago) and read 2706 times:

There are certain safety issues with the MD-11 which makes me prefer a 777 or 767 over the MD-11.

Last year 1,944 New Yorkers saw something and said something.
User currently offlineSetjet From US Minor Outlying Islands, joined Mar 2002, 1169 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (14 years 2 months 1 week 2 hours ago) and read 2683 times:

What do you mean with 'certain safety issues' with the MD11? Do you know anything I don't?

Shed some light on this!

User currently offlineFrostbite From United States of America, joined Feb 2001, 409 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (14 years 2 months 1 week 1 hour ago) and read 2638 times:

I have gleaned numerous perspectives on the MD-11 in my experience in the aviation industry, both as a passenger and as an airline employee...

From the passenger's point of view, the MD-11 offers a comfort level comparable to most every other modern widebody. I've flown the MD-11 numerous times both transatlantic (SR & DL) and transcontinental U.S. (DL). Quiet, airy cabin.

From the airlines', well, for reasons that I don't totally understand (perhaps someone can shed some light on this), the MD-11 seems to perform more economically as a freighter than a passenger hauler. Many pax MD's have been converted to freighters, and Lufthansa took the last 15 off the assembly line as freighters. Maybe the MD retains efficiency at higher gross weights (pure freighters are almost always running heavier than pax flights), while at lower gross weights (ie pax missions)they lag behind other comparable capacity aircraft in efficiency. The twin vs. trijet efficiency game perhaps.

From McDonnell Douglas' (read: Boeing) perspective, it was a dog...definitely not a $$$ maker.

From the pilots'...I've heard it said repeatedly that they are squirrely when flying low and slow, ie on approach. Center of gravity way far aft...not a very forgiving airplane in it's handling characteristics.

For pure looks, well, a matter of opinion of course. They aren't very graceful, very quirky lines, but I do think they look good all the same (then again I can think of few planes that don't look good to me). And they sure are capable of some impressive nose-up attitudes & climb rates after takeoff.

Ok, I've gone on enough. My two cents. The MD-11 has a decent safety record, I won't hesitate to fly one again.

User currently offlineJhooper From United States of America, joined Dec 2001, 6210 posts, RR: 11
Reply 7, posted (14 years 2 months 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 2600 times:

Strictly by the numbers, the MD-11 has had 5.71 fatal accidents per million flights. By comparison, the B-767 has only had 0.46 fatal accidents per million flights.

As mentioned earlier, pilots have been complaining over general handling characteristics, especially in regard to the landing phase. Also, pilots have told me that the MD-11 is particularly susceptable to electrical fires.

Last year 1,944 New Yorkers saw something and said something.
User currently offlineIl76 From Netherlands, joined Jan 2004, 2239 posts, RR: 42
Reply 8, posted (14 years 2 months 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 2574 times:

As far as I can recall, 5 MD11's have crashed.
2x Fedex (Newark & Phillipines)
1x Mandarin Airlines in HongKong
1x Korean in Shanghai
1x Swissair in Canada...

That's it right? 3x freighter. Wonder why... Sliding loads??

User currently offlineVarig md-11 From France, joined Jul 2000, 1609 posts, RR: 7
Reply 9, posted (14 years 2 months 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 2578 times:


if I remember correctly the 2 fedex and the mandarin accidents occured in windy/rainy weather....
though some in this forum said the md-11 is a very "normal " plane , it seems yet it has difficulties at operating in bad weather -aerodynamics problems?-

again if memory serves me right in the mandarin and the fedex newark cases, the md-11 flipped over and ended up with it's belly facing the sky.....it never happened to a 767 or a 747 did it?

User currently offlineKL713 From Netherlands, joined Aug 2001, 772 posts, RR: 1
Reply 10, posted (14 years 2 months 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 2530 times:

i've flown Martinair MD-11 from AMS to DLM, the seats weren't pretty comfortable (well, that's Martinair Big grin), but the aircraft itselves......a beautiful thing to see....comfortable flying and very quiet......

732 733 734 73G 738 739 742 743 744 752 763 77E 773 77W 319 320 332 333 343 388 M11 146 DH4
User currently offlineBoeing 747-311 From United States of America, joined Mar 2001, 795 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (14 years 2 months 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 2454 times:

How is teh plane? why is it that some people some hate, while some poeple love it! why is it that its a bad passenger aircraft, but a great cargo aircraft? what is the deal with these aircraft? personally, i have never been on an md-11, but i love the look of them, they look awesome!

boeing 747-311

Come fly with US
User currently offlineFedExIndy From United States of America, joined Jan 2001, 77 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (14 years 2 months 6 days 15 hours ago) and read 2412 times:

I've heard that the FedEx Newark crash had to do with the spar being cracked from previous unreported hard landings. Apparently, on this landing, it broke and the plane rolled over.

User currently offlineWoodsboy From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 1042 posts, RR: 2
Reply 13, posted (14 years 2 months 6 days 14 hours ago) and read 2390 times:

The MD-11 suffered from a very high profile accident in the form of the SwissAir crash in Nova Scotia. Unfortunately for this aircraft, the culprit seemed to be capton wireing insulation related to the video entertainment system. After this was determined, this capton was also found in numerous other MD, Boeing and Airbus aircraft with signs of fraying and small fires. It just happened to the MD-11 where this problem first manifested itself.

The Mandarin crash in Hong Kong was purely pilot error in that they were attempting to land the aircraft in a cross-wind condition that was far more severe than the operating limitations of the aircraft. The Newark FedEx accident was attributed to both pilot error and possibly the unreported hard landing that may have cracked the spar.

Although initial performance specifications were not met, these issues were resolved in the early production models and the MD-11 went on to serve as the very long range aircraft that it is today, flying some of the longest haul sectors in the world.

What may have killed the MD-11 was the advent of the big twin jets like the 777 and A330. Although the MD-11 went into service years before either of the big twins, its time was limited by advances in twin jet technology and the move away from the tri-jet. The MD-11 offered the most advanced flight deck of its time which still hangs right in there with the 777, 747 and other modern 2-place glass flight decks. The other factor that sealed the coffin for the MD-11 was the Boeing MD merger which effectively lay MD to rest, along with its product line which Boeing did NOT market or ever intend to keep building. Despite the fact that the MD-11 was the only new build freighter in its class and represented the most efficient freighter aircraft avialable (as it does today), Boeing was not interested in keeping that line open. Lufthansa had to to fight for their last 15 examples and there would have been more if Boeing had not shut it down. I always thought that the MD-11 would have been a much more lucrative line to keep open than the 717 since they MD-11 is the most sought after widebody freighter in the world. Its performance and economy as a freighter are unmatched and we will see the MD-11 around for many years in this role.

Major airlines with MD-11 fleets like SwissAir and JAL have commited most of their fleets to FedEx (although I am not sure what the current status of the Swiss-FedEx sale is) but others like Thai, KLM, Martinair, Delta,Varig, EvaAir, Saudi, Alitalia, World and Finnair plan to keep their small fleets in service as pax carriers a bit longer.

User currently offlineVarig md-11 From France, joined Jul 2000, 1609 posts, RR: 7
Reply 14, posted (14 years 2 months 6 days 14 hours ago) and read 2341 times:


I understand pilots errors were the main cause of some MD crashes....but that's exactly the point : pilots must make errors with 767 A332 or 747 either.... but it just seems (maybe wrongly) that the MD is less forgiving

User currently offlineSeagull From United States of America, joined Jun 2001, 340 posts, RR: 1
Reply 15, posted (14 years 2 months 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 2328 times:

Classic case of people not understanding statistics. The numbers are so low that the rates are all within the realm of being random, so you can't attach any significance to the accident rates posted above. That would be like saying that New York is a dangerous area to fly in because there were several accidents in the area in recent years (excluding the hijackings).

User currently offlineParisien From France, joined Dec 2000, 847 posts, RR: 1
Reply 16, posted (14 years 2 months 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 2269 times:

I flew on the MD11s of swissair and Alitalia...I loved them !!! the take off feel powerful and the noise is comforting...even when spotting i always like the noise of DC10s and the MD11s.

User currently offline747-600X From United States of America, joined Jan 2000, 2829 posts, RR: 13
Reply 17, posted (14 years 2 months 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 2250 times:

I cannot help but notice that both DC-10s and MD-11s have a tendency to end up upside down after they crash. Both aircraft, for reasons which I cannot fathom, have a noticeable lack of dihedral in the wing design. The wings stick virtually straight out, such that when the plane rotates there's less to keep it upright and one of the wings ends up closer to the ground. Were a 777 and MD-11 pitted against each other in fowl crosswind conditions, the 777 would surely prevail simply because the MD-11 would be more inclined to roll on account of having no dihedral and sooner to have a wing hit the ground.

From what I've heard, the Newark crash resulted from a landing so hard that the aircraft jumped back into the air a good distance and the pilot lost control.

User currently offlineTrintocan From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2000, 3297 posts, RR: 4
Reply 18, posted (14 years 2 months 6 days 7 hours ago) and read 2215 times:

The lack of success of the MD-11 was a reflection on the philosophy of MD during its last days. MD had a strong customer base flying many DC-9/MD-80s and DC-10s and with its philosophy of updating proven designs maintained the trend by developing the MD-11 as an updated DC-10. When BCal ordered 3 to replace its DC-10s back in 1986 MD felt that it could get a headstart in the 300-350 seat long ranger market as it had the only model in that market under production at the time - namely the DC-10. The TriStar was already out of the picture and the A300 was not a long-haul type so by evolving the DC-10 they could expedite the new type and beat its rivals. In so doing the MD-11 first flew in 1989.

Alas, the design problems that upset AA proved a major blow to the design's success and while they were corrected to the point that the type exceeded its design range, SQ then cancelled its orders and that proved virtually a terminal blow. Meanwhile Airbus had designed the A330/340, which offered airlines both a long-haul quad and a medium-haul high-capacity plane in effectively one design, thus producing economy due to commonality. Boeing meanwhile was on its way in designing the 777 - although the final design was not arrived at until 1992 and flew 2 years later. The increasingly powerful jet engines that had been designed meant that 2 could do what 3 were needed for in the past and hence the MD-11 also saw its role squashed by newer twins.

So MD-11 sales fell off as the other 2 designs captured the market and that did not help MD's fortunes, which also spiralled downwards when the MD-90 did not sell as well as expected - again the good intention of providing proven product to loyal customers had faltered in the face of changed market conditions. As to why the MD-11 has been popular as a freighter, it may be due to the DC-10 heritage which suits it for the role plus the third engine always provides that extra power which is necessary, given the greater weight of loaded freighters. Boeing however was unconvinced of any long-term viability of the MD-11 as a pure freighter and certainly did not want that type to compete in the pax market against its (much more expensive) 777 so it canned the design.

200 built, sadly 5 write-offs and no more MD-11s to come from the line.


Hop to it, fly for life!
User currently offlineVarig md-11 From France, joined Jul 2000, 1609 posts, RR: 7
Reply 19, posted (14 years 2 months 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 2149 times:

thank god you're here to tell us we're dummies....

about 2 years ago, RG md-11 landing in crosswind and rain @ CDG1 danced on the runway and ended up in the grass and the mud writing off part of its landing gear, ....it was never widely reported since the plane was repaired 2 days after and nobody was hurt...oh but that's random and it happens very often....it's just it was a MD and to this day I've never seen that on any other plane @CDG ; but I know I misunderstand the whole stuff and as a dummy I get impressed by the slightest ridiculous fact that happens on earth

User currently offlineGARUDAROD From United States of America, joined Apr 2000, 1566 posts, RR: 1
Reply 20, posted (14 years 2 months 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 2059 times:

The reason the MD-11 is in such demand as a freighter
is that is has more Cubic Volume space than any other
aircraft, including the B747F. Of course the
An-124 and AN-225 are a whole different matter.
Carriers such as FEDEX, UPS have smaller more
volumetric packages, hence the MD-11 is a better fit.

I think the MD-11 is a fabulous aircraft. It was state
of the art when it was designed, but hence new
technology has made it appear dated. I was at
numerous customer meetings at McDonnell Douglas
for the airlines ordering the MD-11, including the
first roll out and first flight and this plane was the
belle of the ball so to speak. As mentioned previously
on this forum and others, the MD-11 tail surface is
smaller than the DC-10 and creates some problems
landing in crosswind conditions. Lower than expect
range and payload when the aircraft first came
out, also hindered sales. These problems were
corrected with the MD-11ER, but by then the damage
had been done and it was regulated to a limited fate.

Let us hope that the "Queen of Long Beach" will fly
for many more years without any unfortunate
incidents to mar its record. Long live the Mad-Dog...

Cargo doesn't whine, moan, or complain
User currently offlineNicolasrolland From Canada, joined Jun 2001, 164 posts, RR: 0
Reply 21, posted (14 years 2 months 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 1991 times:

Would be good to hear about the report
on the Swissair flight who went down the ocean...


User currently offlineRipcordd From United States of America, joined Apr 2000, 1326 posts, RR: 1
Reply 22, posted (14 years 2 months 2 days 7 hours ago) and read 1971 times:

i took AA's DFW-FRA was awsome i love the way they look esp the KLM'S

User currently offlineSeagull From United States of America, joined Jun 2001, 340 posts, RR: 1
Reply 23, posted (14 years 2 months 2 days 4 hours ago) and read 1939 times:

To 747-6, you have been misinformed about the role of dihedral and the amount of dihedral has nothing to do with the accidents.

To Varig, you're saying that only the MD-11 has gone off into the mud at CDG? I think you didn't look at the database very hard!

User currently offlineVarig md-11 From France, joined Jul 2000, 1609 posts, RR: 7
Reply 24, posted (14 years 2 months 2 days ago) and read 1898 times:

dear seagull

I don't need any database...I work there, remember? and when a plane goes to the mud I know when and why

if you refer to the CAMEROON AIRLINES 747-combi (MONT CAMEROUN) which is now a wreck @ CDG , let me tell you it went to the mud after a reverse thrust actuator remained stuck while the other actuators worked properly

never reported : a few months ago a brand new UA 777 overran the runway while landing (no injuries , no damage) due to pilot error

in the RG md-11 case the pilot reported it all happened because of the crosswind and he lost control of the ship....I'm not saying it, he is

25 Kj76 : I fly one of the Finnair's MD-11's to holiday destinations every year. Finnair used MD-11 (oh-lgd) on a four-hour flight to Rhodes,Greece at least fro
26 FlyVS007 : Yes, there were a few flight safety issues, especially when landing. But MD/Boeing worked to resolve those. One pilot I spoke to on a flight out of Ga
27 Varig md-11 : Fly VS007 I absolutely agree with you the fact the MD-11 has encountered some slight problems doesn't cast a shadow on the fact it is a beautiful ship
28 Post contains links and images Keesje : I flew a MD11 AMS-MEM twice. Nothing wrong with this KL flight. Comfortable seats (in business), low noise level, good video system. Click for large v
29 Squigee : The MD-11 has the largest passenger windows of any passenger aircraft.
30 Airplanetire : I flew Delta's MD-11s in June of 2000 on ATL-BRU and BRU-ATL. It was in economy. The seats were hideously uncomfortable. The noise seemed normal; not
31 PSU.DTW.SCE : The seats have to do more with the airline than the aircraft. Its the airline that chooses the type of seat and all the dimensions. That really isn't
32 AM744 : Maybe a long range trijet isn't a bad idea MD-11ER - MTOW=630,500lb Range=7240nm 777-200ER MTOW=632,500lb Range=7150nm Looks competitive still. A MD-1
33 FlyVS007 : I've been meaning to ask about those windows, they did seem so much larger (and higher up) than the ones on the last jet I flew, a 744.
34 Post contains images Je89_w : I've flown JAL MD-11 from NRT-SIN & Swissair MD-11 from SIN-ZRH I thought it was cool! On the SR MD-11, we overtook a MAS 777-200! The MD-11 is one of
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