Posts: 609
Joined: Wed May 26, 1999 10:07 am

The Problems With Bashing The DC-9

Tue Feb 15, 2000 12:48 am

Ladies and Gentlemen:

There has been much bashing of the DC-9/MD-80/MD-90/717 and the 737. For simpicity I will refer to the DC-9/MD-80/MD-90/717 series as the DC-9 and the 737 series as the 737.

Bashing either of these aircraft is foolishness! We all have our favorites and our least favorites, be it the seat size, the engine placement or the general asthetics. Bashing the DC-9 or the 737 is foolish, we all have read the complaints of the "uncommanded rudder movements" on the 737 and now the "Jackscrew" on the DC-9. Has anybody noticed anything, if you are taking a trip chances are you will be on a 737 or a DC-9! Both of these aircraft are the workhorses of most major airlines! The 747 series in total does not have as many cycles as the DC-9 or 737 series; the long haul aircraft spend most of their time cruising not making 100 mile short hops. The slightest little defect in design, over time, will surface faster than a design defect in any other aircraft. To say that either of these aircraft is bad is wrong and foolish! I have my likes and dislikes of both of these aircraft, NONE of my dislikes are in design! Both of these aircraft are built like trucks, they are the workhorses of the airlines and have the records to prove it. I don't have the statistics in front of me but I believe there are more 737 and DC-9 series aircraft in the air than any other type (I'm pretty sure, I could be wrong my numbers are old) some airlines use them almost exclusively (AA, WN, ME) it's not because they are cheap, they're best. The Airbus people have valid points, however there are more DC-9 and 737's flying than A320, A319, A318's (the nearest competitors). There's the facts, discount them, challenge them, PLEASE, try to prove me wrong. If you've flown, you've more than likely been on more 737 or DC-9's than anything else.

Posts: 108
Joined: Tue Feb 08, 2000 2:15 am

RE: The Problems With Bashing The DC-9

Tue Feb 15, 2000 1:55 am

I agree with Peter on most of his points on "plane bashing", be it 737 rudders or MD-80 tailplanes. However, one point I'd like to bring up is this, and it is truly an unfortunate point - it sometimes takes a tragedy to uncover a hidden engineering defect, a routine maintenance deficiency, or some other oversight on the manufacturer's, airline's, or FAA's part. Not to say that I agree or disagree that there are problems w/-80 tailplanes or 737 rudders, since I am not an aeronautical/mechanical engineer and I am not an experienced airline pilot/mechanic; however, looking back at various disasters not attributed to pilot error, hidden mechanical/design deficiencies or incorrect maintenance have been ID'd as the cause of many disasters. I read over the weekend that the FAA was looking at the way Alaska parked its planes overnight - there was concern that the way they placed their horizontal stabilizers each night (to avoid rainwater pooling on the stabilizer) may have something to do with the MD80 accident. Quite frankly, at this point, who really knows EXACTLY what caused the plane to plummet out of control into the ocean? The media does play a big part in the speculation of the cause of all major air tragedies, which in turn fuels arguments for the "plane bashing" folks. Today, I have heard other folks indicate they've heard the same story I did about the parked stabilizer position and are now talking about it as "what caused the crash" and "what a horrible design". Are these people aeronautical engineers fully qualified to make these statements?? No!! The bottom line is this - there is no such thing as a "perfect" aircraft (check out the US Govt.'s airworthiness directives and service bulletin listings to find out!), and aircraft are immensely complicated machines - each of us has their own opinions and favorites (Boeing vs. Airbus!) - I know that 737 rudder problems have been discussed here and all over the world for over 5 years now.

Just food for thought!!

Posts: 598
Joined: Tue Oct 19, 1999 4:26 am

RE: The Problems With Bashing The DC-9

Tue Feb 15, 2000 1:55 am

Peter is absolutely right. The DC-9 and its descendants are (along with the DC-8) the most ruggedly built commercial jets in use today. It was the last airliner designed by Douglas before the McDonnell merger in 1967 and as such was every bit as overbuilt as the DC-3.

Sure, most of us want to ride in the latest and greatest every time we fly but we all have to face economic reality. The fact is that despite their age, higher fuel consumption, need for expensive hushkits and increased maintenance, the operating costs of the DC-9 and early model 737 are on par with or slightly less than their intended replacements. This is mainly due to the fact that most of these a/c were paid off many years ago.

Peter is also right about the safety records of the DC-9/MD-80 et al and the early 737s. Both are outstanding by any knowledgeable person's standards. (not the media who considers a missed approach "life-threatening")

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