TWAtwaTWA
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Did The MD-11 Cause The Demise Of MDD?

Wed May 17, 2006 2:41 pm

In the late 1980s, McDonnell Douglas had the MD-80 and the DC-10.

Although the MD-80 was considered a breakthrough fuel efficient aircraft, why did MDD have such few options for airlines, and why did they make the decision to update the tired DC-10 instead of trying to build a more modern fleet of more competitive aircraft?

Surely the MD-11 decision set into motion the chain of events that led to the end of the company. Didn't the marketing and strategic departments have this reality in their sights?

Does anybody have insights into MDD decision-making at that time?

[Edited 2006-05-17 07:47:30]

[Edited 2006-05-17 08:09:23]
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777STL
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RE: Did The MD-11 Cause The Demise Of MD-D?

Wed May 17, 2006 3:00 pm

The MD11 certainly contributed to McD's demise, but the commercial line wasn't Boeing's sole reason for acquiring McD; the military line was a great bit more lucrative. Also you seem to insinuate McD updating the "tired DC10" was a bad idea, but Boeing seems to be pretty successful having done the exact same with the 737 and the 747. The problem with the MD11 wasn't the concept, it was the plane itself, McD didn't deliver on promised performance goals.

After Boeing acquired McD, the MD11 line was eventually phased out as it competed with the 777.

McD did also have a few design studies for various types of aircraft in the 1990s. Two that come to mind are the MD-XX, similar in design to the 767 and the MD-12, similar to the Airbus 380. Obviously neither came to fruition.
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coa747
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RE: Did The MD-11 Cause The Demise Of MD-D?

Wed May 17, 2006 3:01 pm

Airways Magazine ran a three part article about McDonnell Douglas and the demise of the Commercial Aircraft unit. The failure of MDD was due according to the article by the McDonnell people on the board. They didn't adequately fund the commercial aircraft division and were not big fans of the division. Also they cut the budget and gave the engineers and everyone else on the line impossible goals to meet given the resources being made available. In fact the commercial aircraft division had plans for an aircraft similar to the A380 which were drawn up in the late 80's or early 90's and even had interest from a few airlines but the board squashed the project. The MD-95 was faced with delay after delay and when the MD-11 didn't meet initial performance targets the board wrote it off instead of commiting more money to improve it. So I would say that for all intents and purposes the McDonnell takeover of Douglas was just about the worst thing to ever happen to Douglas and their successful commercial aircraft division and all but ensured its demise.
 
TWAtwaTWA
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RE: Did The MD-11 Cause The Demise Of MDD?

Wed May 17, 2006 4:22 pm

Thanks for the info, here is a great link about the MD-12 which wikipedia reports as having had no orders despite an aggressive marketing campaign.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McDonnell_Douglas_MD-12
Big version: Width: 250 Height: 150 File size: 10kb
The MDD MD-12 concept


Interesting that less than a decade later, the A380 can become a show-stopper with the same type of aircraft.
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RE: Did The MD-11 Cause The Demise Of MDD?

Wed May 17, 2006 5:41 pm

The beginning of the end for Douglas commercial airplanes was the decision to build the DC7 in the 1950's. While Douglas was busy perfecting the piston engine transport, Boeing was taking a risk on the jet age that paid off. History repeated itself in the 1960's when Boeing launched the 747 while Douglas was busy perfecting the DC8. Being overly conservative caused a great product to arrive too late to effectively compete. If the 60 series DC8 had arrived sooner, I think it would have kicked the crap out of the 707 in sales. Douglas was never able to recover from its overly conservative stance it took many years ago.
 
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RE: Did The MD-11 Cause The Demise Of MDD?

Wed May 17, 2006 8:13 pm

In my opinion the rise of Airbus and the fall of McDonnell Douglas almost parallel each other. Not to diminish their own mis-steps, but MD might have done OK had Airbus not succeeded the way it did...especially in the narrow-body arena.

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RE: Did The MD-11 Cause The Demise Of MDD?

Wed May 17, 2006 8:45 pm

What about the lack of a mid-sized, wide body aircraft adding to their demise? Airbus started with the A-300, the first mid-sized wide body, even before Boeing. Boeing created the 767, as well as the 757 narrowbody, long distance aircraft. To me, not being able to offer a mid-sized aircraft limited their ability to fit into the desires of many airlines to have a fleet of one brand.
The improvements in aircraft jet engines also added to their demise, making 3 engine aircraft obsolete. Don't forget too that 3-engine aircraft have difficulty in servicing that 3rd/tail mounted engine. In addition, that 3rd engine is one more engine and it's related system, as well as lower fuel efficiency vs. big twins.
 
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RE: Did The MD-11 Cause The Demise Of MDD?

Wed May 17, 2006 9:02 pm

I think MD were a bit half hearted about civil aircraft (a bit like BAE who tinkered around with their regional props and jets without ever spending much, and who now want to sell their Airbus stake)

I agree that their range was limited too. If they had a 200-250 seat 757/767 rival then their range of planes would have been more comprehensive. A twin engined MD11 would have been nice too, but these all cost money.
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RE: Did The MD-11 Cause The Demise Of MDD?

Wed May 17, 2006 11:38 pm

Quoting Coa747 (Reply 2):
The failure of MDD was due according to the article by the McDonnell people on the board. They didn't adequately fund the commercial aircraft division and were not big fans of the division. Also they cut the budget and gave the engineers and everyone else on the line impossible goals to meet given the resources being made available.

Having worked at Long Beach in the late 90's I saw this neglect first hand. Buildings were rundown, building 15 was really sad, equipment was out of date. The place was more like a shipyard than an aircraft production facility. What kills me was when MD lost the JSF only then did they realize their mistake of not investing in the commercial products division.

[Edited 2006-05-17 17:00:57]
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RE: Did The MD-11 Cause The Demise Of MDD?

Wed May 17, 2006 11:48 pm

The fact that McD lacked a full line of commercial aircraft helped bring about the sale of McD to Boeing.

When Boeing made the merger offer, it had the 737NG, the 747-400, the 757, the 767, and the 777.

Airbus had the A320 series, the A330, and the A340, and the A380 was being discussed.

McD had only the MD-80 series, the MD-90, the MD-95, and the MD-11. There was nothing between the 165 seat MD-90 and the 300+ seat MD-11.
 
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RE: Did The MD-11 Cause The Demise Of MDD?

Thu May 18, 2006 12:25 am

Quoting TWAtwaTWA (Thread starter):
Does anybody have insights into MDD decision-making at that time?

I worked at Long Beach after the MD-11 had entered service. However a lot of my coworkers worked on the program. Basically MD tried to do the MD-11 on the cheap. If they had spent the money and put a all new wing along with FBW controls they would have sold a lot more. Would this have saved the MD commercial division? Probably not, even if the MD-11 had been more succesfull they were still without a widebody twin or an narrowbody that could compete with with A320 or 737NG.
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RE: Did The MD-11 Cause The Demise Of MDD?

Thu May 18, 2006 1:29 am

Quoting TWAtwaTWA (Thread starter):
Didn't the marketing and strategic departments have this reality in their sights?

According to an article in ATW(May issue 2006) there i an article about the topic you ask about. What killed of the great Douglas Aircrafts was the merger between McDonnell and Douglas. McDonnell had the money, and Douglas the civil airlines. How ever the new boss of McDonnell Douglas was from McDonnell, and he treated the airlines in the same way as he treated the government officials. So many argues that it was the lack of using enough money on hardware upgrade that made it difficult for MDC. Udvar Hazy from ILFC who recently criticised Airbus, criticised McDonnell Douglas when they stopped evolving. Now brand new design was put in production after the merger

Quoting ChrisNH (Reply 5):
In my opinion the rise of Airbus and the fall of McDonnell Douglas almost parallel each other.

At the time McDonnell and Douglas merged, Douglas was developing the DC-11, a true 727 replacement and worked on a twin-engined DC-10 to compete against the Airbus A300.

However the former McDonnell chief executives stopped the development as they wanted to minimize the risk. The DC-11 had 30 orders from IIRC Delta, but wanted more orders than from just one customer.

If McDonnell Douglas had went thru with this, then Airbus would probably not have been as successful as they are today. The market for the A300 if MDC had offered the twin DC-10 would be very limited. Also the A320 would have had trouble to compete against the DC-11.
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RE: Did The MD-11 Cause The Demise Of MDD?

Thu May 18, 2006 1:43 am

Quoting LMP737 (Reply 10):
Quoting TWAtwaTWA (Thread starter):
Does anybody have insights into MDD decision-making at that time?

I worked at Long Beach after the MD-11 had entered service. However a lot of my coworkers worked on the program. Basically MD tried to do the MD-11 on the cheap. If they had spent the money and put a all new wing along with FBW controls they would have sold a lot more. Would this have saved the MD commercial division? Probably not, even if the MD-11 had been more succesfull they were still without a widebody twin or an narrowbody that could compete with with A320 or 737NG.

The tail engine in general and the infamous "Banjo Fitting" (which holds the tail engine) specifically were huge problem when growing from the DC-10 to the MD-11. The costs involved in developing the tail engine structure were enormous.


Quoting 777STL (Reply 1):

McD did also have a few design studies for various types of aircraft in the 1990s. Two that come to mind are the MD-XX, similar in design to the 767 and the MD-12, similar to the Airbus 380. Obviously neither came to fruition.

Ah yes...

http://www.rosboch.net/aviationmedia/Proposed_MD-XX_MD-12_trijet.jpg



And of course Boeing was playing with concepts as well:
http://www.rosboch.net/aviationmedia/B747-300_Concept_with_three_engines.jpg

[Edited 2006-05-17 18:46:27]
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RE: Did The MD-11 Cause The Demise Of MDD?

Thu May 18, 2006 2:21 am

The Md-11 itself didn't kill MCDD, but the lost money from the PIP upgrades, the MD-12/xx/1xx projects and the drain of the other commercial projects (MD-90 sales, trunkliner, the Taiwan tie-up for the MD-12, etc) were a part of why.
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RE: Did The MD-11 Cause The Demise Of MDD?

Thu May 18, 2006 8:13 am

Did the crashes of the DC-10's of UA and AA and the public back lash there after contribute to the down fall?

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RE: Did The MD-11 Cause The Demise Of MDD?

Thu May 18, 2006 10:06 am

Quoting AirEMS (Reply 14):
Did the crashes of the DC-10's of UA and AA and the public back lash there after contribute to the down fall?

Maybe a little. But in the end the public knows too little about planes to make a difference. There were quite a few people who didn't want to fly DC-10s, but I bet a lot of them couldn't recognize a DC-10 from a flying bathtub.
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RE: Did The MD-11 Cause The Demise Of MDD?

Thu May 18, 2006 10:15 am

Quoting TWAtwaTWA (Reply 3):
Interesting that less than a decade later, the A380 can become a show-stopper with the same type of aircraft.

Oh yes! The "White Whale" jet can turn heads in Paris, but they aren't the passenger jets being sold in large numbers. Look comparatively at the 777-HC (300) & LR models (777-200LR) as well as the launch and pre orders for the 787 and Boeing did a better job of hitting the nail right on the head over that last 10 years. Where McD screwed up was not designing a "Twin" version of the DC-10 as Boeing did with the 777. These twins with big powerful GE and RR engines are what has made both Boeing and AirBus profitable. The trend has been towards such wide-body heavies rather than jumbo heavies. Planes that can fly over half way around the planet and do high frequency point to point flying.
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RE: Did The MD-11 Cause The Demise Of MDD?

Thu May 18, 2006 12:49 pm

Quoting LTBEWR (Reply 6):
What about the lack of a mid-sized, wide body aircraft adding to their demise?

It's called the DC-10 Twin, essentially designed in the '70-'72 timeframe. MDC needed to funnel funds to the F-15 development, so no DC-10 Twin (remember, corporate offices were in St. Louis). The 757/767 followed later that decade. The MD-20 (nee, MD-XX) was a A330 clone - or thereabouts - that never got past the basic concept stage.

The "other" MD-XX was a stretched MD-11, seating approx. 365 people. Length was in the area of an A340-600. Since it looked like a DC-8 stretch, all us engineers in Long Beach thought it looked SWEET! Harry Stonecipher was internally debating what to do with Douglas - sell it or inviest in it. The investment required a complete product line upgrade, to the tune of $15B+ (1996 dollars). Since that was too much for MDC to swallow (remember the YF-23 and JSF development costs??), he did the alternaitve and merged with Boeing.

[Edited 2006-05-18 05:58:18]
 
Oykie
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RE: Did The MD-11 Cause The Demise Of MDD?

Thu May 18, 2006 2:58 pm

Quoting AirEMS (Reply 14):
Did the crashes of the DC-10's of UA and AA and the public back lash there after contribute to the down fall?

I think Starlionblue ads this up very well, but I wanted to add that all the early crashes with the DC-10 did make the airline executives a bit nervous as they in the beginning did not know the reasons for the crashes.
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RE: Did The MD-11 Cause The Demise Of MDD?

Thu May 18, 2006 6:36 pm

Quoting AirEMS (Reply 14):
Did the crashes of the DC-10's of UA and AA and the public back lash there after contribute to the down fall?

I remember reading in a biography of the British band XTC that after the crashes in the 70s they told their management not to book them on DC10s! I don't think they had any idea what a DC10 was, but they'd seen it on the news...

Wasn't the DC9-80 renamed the MD80 because of the tarnished DC reputation?
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RE: Did The MD-11 Cause The Demise Of MDD?

Thu May 18, 2006 11:28 pm

Quoting AirEMS (Reply 14):
Did the crashes of the DC-10's of UA and AA and the public back lash there after contribute to the down fall?

The 1979 AA crash was a result of a defective engine mounting part. The UA crash 10 years later resulted from a defect in the rear engine. The engine was Pratt Whitney I believe.

I have said this many times before that the lack of foreign investment and MDD's reluctance in embracing new MD-11 design ideas - specifically a new wing design for the proposed streched MD-11 is what killed MDD.
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RE: Did The MD-11 Cause The Demise Of MDD?

Fri May 19, 2006 4:19 am

Quoting TWAtwaTWA (Thread starter):
Did The MD-11 Cause The Demise Of MDD?

I don't think the MD-11 program should bear all the faults. For me, its more a lack of vision that caused the end of DAC/MDC. While Boeing was working on/producing the B707, DOuglas had to catch up with its DC-8, which was not a so good saler. DAC later decided to offer the DC-8-60s which helped to keep the prod line open up until 1972.

The lack of vision was quit evident. Look at the end of the 70s and make a comparision. MDC only had the DC-9s (with the Super 80 still to come) and the DC-10s. Boeing was still offering the 707/727/737/747. A new version of the 737 was to come not that many years later, and more important Boeing was working on two new models, the 757 & 767. Rather than offering a B727-300, Boeing went for the 757.

MDC launched its next model (another "cheap" stretched older model) only during 1986, which I consider far too late. The MD-11 only took to the air in January 1990. In 1990, Boeing launched the 777 with an order from UA, and abandonned by the way the idea of simply stretching the 767 because potential customers asked for a brand new aircraft. Now we know that the MD-11 was a poor starter and bad performer, while there are more than 700 777 flying today.

I've read in one of my books about the DC-10 that Mr. McDonnell answered to customers interested to buy that trijet and asking for some kind of discount: "Take it, or leave it!"

All this said, I must add that I still believe that MDC jets are the finest to look at, even that mistreated MD-11.  Smile
 
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RE: Did The MD-11 Cause The Demise Of MDD?

Fri May 19, 2006 4:44 am

Quoting OyKIE (Reply 18):
I think Starlionblue ads this up very well, but I wanted to add that all the early crashes with the DC-10 did make the airline executives a bit nervous as they in the beginning did not know the reasons for the crashes.

Well, AA, new what caused the crash. They just tried to hide it.

Quoting AirbusA6 (Reply 19):
Wasn't the DC9-80 renamed the MD80 because of the tarnished DC reputation?

No. It changed because the company's name changed.
 
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RE: Did The MD-11 Cause The Demise Of MDD?

Fri May 19, 2006 4:45 am

Quoting Bmacleod (Reply 20):
The UA crash 10 years later resulted from a defect in the rear engine. The engine was Pratt Whitney I believe.

No, it was the CF6-50. Only JL and NW operated the JT9D on the DC-10, which were all Series 40. The Series 10/15 and Series 30 have exclusively the CF6-50.
 
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RE: Did The MD-11 Cause The Demise Of MDD?

Fri May 19, 2006 5:19 am

Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 15):
Maybe a little. But in the end the public knows too little about planes to make a difference. There were quite a few people who didn't want to fly DC-10s, but I bet a lot of them couldn't recognize a DC-10 from a flying bathtub.

Well except for all the A.net people right?
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RE: Did The MD-11 Cause The Demise Of MDD?

Fri May 19, 2006 5:45 am

Quoting AirEMS (Reply 24):
Well except for all the A.net people right?

Most of us seem to love the DC-10 so much that they'd love to die in one. biggrin 

Regarding MD's demise, it's difficult to escape from the fact that their last all-new airliner design was the pre-merger DC-10, which first flew back in 1970.

I guess the company was too conservative, too reluctant to do something new or invest serious money. In 1981 they teamed with Fokker to build a new narrowbody, the MDF-100. With hindsight I think it speaks volumes that they bothered with a small regional aircraft builder, they could and probably should have managed on their own.

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Starlionblue
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RE: Did The MD-11 Cause The Demise Of MDD?

Fri May 19, 2006 9:23 pm

Quoting TVNWZ (Reply 22):
Quoting OyKIE (Reply 18):
I think Starlionblue ads this up very well, but I wanted to add that all the early crashes with the DC-10 did make the airline executives a bit nervous as they in the beginning did not know the reasons for the crashes.

Well, AA, new what caused the crash. They just tried to hide it.

I seriously doubt they knew the reason from the day of the crash. They were using an unapproved procedure. I doubt they would have done so if they had known it was causing damage to the pylon.

Quoting AirEMS (Reply 24):
Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 15):
Maybe a little. But in the end the public knows too little about planes to make a difference. There were quite a few people who didn't want to fly DC-10s, but I bet a lot of them couldn't recognize a DC-10 from a flying bathtub.

Well except for all the A.net people right?

Imagine a widebody full of A.nutters.  hyper   hyper   hyper   hyper   hyper   hyper   hyper   hyper   hyper   hyper   hyper   hyper   hyper   hyper   hyper 
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RE: Did The MD-11 Cause The Demise Of MDD?

Fri May 19, 2006 10:13 pm

Quoting Woosie (Reply 17):
Harry Stonecipher was internally debating what to do with Douglas - sell it or inviest in it. The investment required a complete product line upgrade, to the tune of $15B+ (1996 dollars). Since that was too much for MDC to swallow (remember the YF-23 and JSF development costs??), he did the alternaitve and merged with Boeing.

Something I don't know that you might be able to help me with...

Are there a lot of ex-MDD engineers now working at Boeing Commercial Aircradt division?

I read a one liner in an article in The Australian today that said that a lot of ex-MDD people were working on the 787.

Would this be true? Or were there a lot of layoffs?
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