tsugambler
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McDonnell Douglas--"What If?" Thread

Wed Dec 08, 2010 6:13 pm

This thread is all about conjecture, speculation, and "What if" -ing!    If I could go back in time to 1974, the first thing I would tell the McDonnell Douglas board is that they HAVE to launch a twin-engine version of the DC-10--no ifs, ands, or buts! What if they had done so? How would the twin-engine market taken shape after that? I assume the A300 would have been a primary competitor, but would the 767 have even launched?

I would also go back to 1984, and tell the McDD board to launch a new Super Sixty version of the DC-10, the MD-10-60, instead of the MD-11. The MD-10-60 would have two new fuselage lengths (a stretch of 8m and 12m, respectively); new engines (CF6-80s, PW4462s, and RR Trent 665s); new, larger, supercritical wings with blended winglets; and an all-glass two-man cockpit. The horizontal stabilizer would NOT be made smaller. The center main landing gear would have four wheels instead of two, and MTOW would be higher. All of the MD-11's PIP changes would be incorporated into the design from inception, rather than as an afterthought. Entry into service would take place in 1988 instead of late 1990. With a greater head start, I'm thinking the MD-10-60 would sell better than the MD-11 did, especially beating its competition (the 777 and A330/340) to market by an additional year. And, of course, the previously-launched DC-10 twin would pick up the slack as the twinjets gradually take over the widebody airliner market.

Thanks for allowing me my little fantasy... of course, hindsight is always 20/20! What changes would YOU have made, if you could?
 
PC12Fan
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RE: McDonnell Douglas--"What If?" Thread

Wed Dec 08, 2010 6:23 pm

I think the 767 would have still launched as it, if I'm reading this right, would be smaller than the DC-10 "twin".

My "what if" would have been an MD-90NG. Year round coast-to-coast range and then some.
Just when I think you've said the stupidest thing ever, you keep talkin'!
 
rolfen
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RE: McDonnell Douglas--"What If?" Thread

Wed Dec 08, 2010 6:24 pm

Wouldn't you tell them that the cargo door is a faulty design and needs to be completely fool-proofed? I know I would.
Their DC-10 was a pretty unsafe aircraft for it's time. It's a pity from the company that produced the F-4 and F-15 (and also Apache helicopter)
rolf
 
kaitak
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RE: McDonnell Douglas--"What If?" Thread

Wed Dec 08, 2010 6:27 pm

Quoting tsugambler (Thread starter):
If I could go back in time to 1974, the first thing I would tell the McDonnell Douglas board is that they HAVE to launch a twin-engine version of the DC-10--no ifs, ands, or buts! What if they had done so? How would the twin-engine market taken shape after that? I assume the A300 would have been a primary competitor, but would the 767 have even launched?

I agree 100%; it was one of those big moments in business history when a company could have changed (and indeed, ultimately, saved) its own future, were it not for the lack of vision; one could almost equate it to IBM's decision to leave that pesky Microwhatsit company to develop operating systems for personal computers; who could possibly have thought they were going to get anywhere with that kind of thing.

We know today, of course, that with the exception of the 747, A340 and A380, today's widebodies are all twins - the A300 started it, then the 767, A310 and so on. I wonder what the designers who proposed the DC10 twin must have thought at the time, because they obviously had the same vision and were keeping an eye on Airbus. Things could have been so different; I still think the 767 would have gone ahead, because it is considerably smaller than the 10.

Quoting tsugambler (Thread starter):
What changes would YOU have made, if you could?

The MD12. It could have been the natural succesor to the 747. However, I guess at that stage, it was too late; the company was focused on the MD11 (and getting that right - bigger wing, bigger taiplane, slightly less tendancy to backflip - would have been good).

I think that the VLA market is so small that if MCDD got into this market and had sufficient stretch potential built into the MD12, the A380 would not have happened; Boeing might still have taken it over, but the MD12 would have become the natural successor to the 747.
 
tsugambler
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RE: McDonnell Douglas--"What If?" Thread

Wed Dec 08, 2010 6:28 pm

Quoting rolfen (Reply 2):
Wouldn't you tell them that the cargo door is a faulty design and needs to be completely fool-proofed?

Absolutely, I would--thanks for reminding me! I would also have noted that they need to either re-route the hydraulic lines for greater redundancy, or add hydraulic fuses--or both, preferably. (Of course, the downside to "fixing" these issues before they cause crashes is that if the crash doesn't occur, nobody learns from it, and it's bound to happen to somebody at some point. But that's beyond the scope of my fantasy world...)
 
tsugambler
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RE: McDonnell Douglas--"What If?" Thread

Wed Dec 08, 2010 6:32 pm

Quoting PC12Fan (Reply 1):
My "what if" would have been an MD-90NG. Year round coast-to-coast range and then some

Totally! The MD-90 could have been hugely successful if they'd done it right the first time... new wings and greater range could have extended the life of the DC-9 family for another couple of decades. Also, I would have given the MD-95 (later the Boeing 717) and the MD-90 greater commonality with each other. I also would have had two versions of the MD-95--one a short-range, frequent-hop version (the MD-95-20), and longer-range version with the MD-90NG wing (the MD-95-30).
 
Northwest727
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RE: McDonnell Douglas--"What If?" Thread

Wed Dec 08, 2010 6:51 pm

At some point in history, I would have told MCDD to try building a brand-new airliner from scratch, rather than taking the same 40-year old designs and tweaking them here and there...which is what MCDD did for the rest of its life after the Douglas and McDonnel Merger in the late 60's. It might reduce risks by using a proven platform/airframe, but it isn't going to get you very far, as MCDD learned with the MD-11 and MD-90. Boeing has Y1 to replace the 737, and the 767 and 777 are now going to be replaced by the 787. The 727 was replaced by the 757, itself replaced by the 737-800, and later the Y1. Airbus has the A350 is to replace the A330 and A340.

MCDD was even working on another stretch of the MD-11 at the time of the merger with Boeing. Knowing MCDD's history, I bet they would have simply went with that rather than the MD-12.

[Edited 2010-12-08 10:55:34]

[Edited 2010-12-08 10:59:24]
 
tsugambler
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RE: McDonnell Douglas--"What If?" Thread

Wed Dec 08, 2010 6:52 pm

Oh, and I would have locking mechanisms for the flaps in case of loss of hydraulic pressure... That, combined with the hydraulic fuses and the redesigned cargo latches, should have prevented the DC-10s most infamous accidents.
 
tsugambler
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RE: McDonnell Douglas--"What If?" Thread

Wed Dec 08, 2010 7:05 pm

Quoting Northwest727 (Reply 6):
At some point in history, I would have told MCDD to try building a brand-new airliner from scratch

This is very true, too... you can update an older platform just fine for a while, but eventually you have to come up with something new. The original MD-12 was an attempt at that, although I don't know how successful it would have been as the first fully double-decker airliner. Still, it would have been nice to see!

Perhaps an all-new McDD competitor for the 757 might have been a possibility? Granted, the sales for the 757 dried up before customers fully realized how useful it was, but this is fantasy, not reality.
 
cygnuschicago
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RE: McDonnell Douglas--"What If?" Thread

Wed Dec 08, 2010 9:07 pm

Quoting tsugambler (Reply 8):
ou can update an older platform just fine for a while, but eventually you have to come up with something new.

I don't really agree. Take the 737 which has been updated for something like, what 40 years, and might be again.

In hindsight, MDD was already done for in 1974. They had a marginal success in the DC8, a huge success in the DC9 leftovers, and a huge failure in the DC10. They had no more room to manoeuvre.
If you cannot do the math, your opinion means squat!
 
474218
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RE: McDonnell Douglas--"What If?" Thread

Wed Dec 08, 2010 9:12 pm

Quoting rolfen (Reply 2):
Their DC-10 was a pretty unsafe aircraft for it's time. It's a pity from the company that produced the F-4 and F-15 (and also Apache helicopter)


The DC-10 designed was far along by the time McDonnell and Douglas merged. Additionally the Douglas commercial aircraft division in California the McDonnell military division (where the A-4 and F-15 were designed and built) out of St Louis did not shear engineer of production staff. The Apache was made by McDonnell Douglas Helicopter, which was originally Hughes Helicopter.
 
nz2
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RE: McDonnell Douglas--"What If?" Thread

Wed Dec 08, 2010 9:22 pm

Quoting Northwest727 (Reply 6):
At some point in history, I would have told MCDD to try building a brand-new airliner from scratch, rather than taking the same 40-year old designs and tweaking them here and there...

I agree, if you look back MCDD only designed 3 different airliners, the prop era was all basically a stretch of the previous, and adding a couple of engines. The 8 and 9 were essentially the same and the 10 was only the third clean sheet.

Boeing by comparison has 5 in the jet era alone, the 707 and dirrivatives (2,3,5) , 747, 767, 777 and now 787 plus all the prop era, 247, 307 Stratoliner, 377 Stratocruiser and the 314 clipper, all basically different fusalage and wings

cheers
 
tsugambler
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RE: McDonnell Douglas--"What If?" Thread

Wed Dec 08, 2010 9:56 pm

Quoting NZ2 (Reply 11):
The 8 and 9 were essentially the same

I'd like to respectfully disagree... the DC-8 and the DC-9 are only cosmetically similar, and that is only in the nose/cockpit section. Mechanically, they are quite different... four engines vs. two, six-across seating vs. five across, conventional tail vs. T-tail, thick long-chord wing vs. thin short-chord wing... and on and on. They may have had some common engineering somewhere under the skin, but they are significantly different aircraft. I'd say that objectively, the DC-8, DC-9, and DC-10 were all clean-sheet aircraft.

However, I still agree with your point that McDD needed to consider clean-sheet designs more often than they did. Even more extensive upgrades would have helped tremendously. With a more well-considered upgrade plan, the MD-11 could have been a real widebody success, rather than the fading swan song it turned out to be, and the MD-90 could have grown into a real transcontinental aircraft. Part of the reason the MD-90 didn't sell well was the (correct) perception that McDonnell Douglas did not have a future in civil aircraft. If McDD had truly aimed for the stars when designing the MD-11 and MD-90, they could have perhaps altered that perception (and the subsequent reality).
 
tsugambler
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RE: McDonnell Douglas--"What If?" Thread

Wed Dec 08, 2010 10:00 pm

Speaking of the DC-8, I started thinking that a 757 replacement could have been produced based on the DC-8's design. Of course, it would need a new wing with only two engines, and I'd redesign the nose without the prominent "nostrils"... and it would need a modern window configuration, but otherwise, it has a lot of potential in a "what if" scenario. I'll see if I can photoshop a DC-8 and post it here to show what I mean.
 
SEPilot
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RE: McDonnell Douglas--"What If?" Thread

Wed Dec 08, 2010 10:13 pm

Quoting Northwest727 (Reply 6):
At some point in history, I would have told MCDD to try building a brand-new airliner from scratch, rather than taking the same 40-year old designs and tweaking them here and there...which is what MCDD did for the rest of its life after the Douglas and McDonnel Merger in the late 60's.

This is the key. McDonnell had only built military planes, and had a military mindset. The "merger" was pretty much the same as when a lion and zebra "merge"; the lion in this case was McDonnell. McDonnell was not committed to the civil business, and was totally unwilling to gamble the amount of money it takes to do a clean sheet design. With that perspective there was no chance for any of the above posted dreams; McDonnell was never going to fund them. Douglas was a brilliant designer, and totally committed to civil transport, but he had been late to the table with a jet (largely because he had his arm twisted by AA to build the DC-7, which was obsolete almost since its first flight), and then totally underestimated the demand for the DC-9. The result was he was forced into the lion's mouth, and just like the zebra, what ultimately emerged was crap.
The problem with making things foolproof is that fools are so doggone ingenious...Dan Keebler
 
tsugambler
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RE: McDonnell Douglas--"What If?" Thread

Wed Dec 08, 2010 10:34 pm

Quoting SEPilot (Reply 14):
just like the zebra, what ultimately emerged was crap.

I laughed at your analogy in spite of myself!

However, continuing with the "what if" idea, I've thought of another thing I would have had McDD change if they had produced the MD-10-60 from my earlier comment... I would want them to relocate the main landing gear strut so that it attached behind the wing spar, rather than directly beneath it. That way, in case of a hard landing, the strut would fail "gracefully" by punching through the wing, rather than staying intact and snapping the wing spar instead. This way, the top-heavy trijet designs would be much less likely to flip in a crash situation.
 
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RE: McDonnell Douglas--"What If?" Thread

Wed Dec 08, 2010 10:42 pm

Quoting tsugambler (Reply 8):
Perhaps an all-new McDD competitor for the 757 might have been a possibility? Granted, the sales for the 757 dried up before customers fully realized how useful it was, but this is fantasy, not reality.

In the late 1970s, McDD proposed a 757 sized "ATMR", with PW2037 engines, that would have had 2x2x2 configuration in Y.

DL seriously considered it - they felt they would have a competitive advantage over EA's 3x3 configured 757s, but DL ultimately decided to buy the 757 instead. DL's decision killed the ATMR.

Before the ATMR, McDD and Dassault seriously considered jointly producing a longer ranged version of the Mercure, with CFM 56 engines. This proposal also went nowhere.
Seaholm Maples are #1!
 
SEPilot
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RE: McDonnell Douglas--"What If?" Thread

Wed Dec 08, 2010 10:45 pm

Quoting tsugambler (Reply 15):
Quoting SEPilot (Reply 14):
just like the zebra, what ultimately emerged was crap.

I laughed at your analogy in spite of myself!

Just to expand my previous comments; from what I have read, most of the problems with the DC-10 came about because the final design was supervised by McDonnell people, not Douglas people, and they took shortcuts that neither Douglas, Boeing, or Lockheed people would have allowed. After the DC-10 was complete McDonnell was only willing to tweak existing designs; he wouldn't even design a new wing, either for the MD-80 series or the MD-11. A clean sheet airliner was out of the question; he did allow the engineers to sketch the MD-12, but he was never going to put up the money to build it. And after the MD-11 fiasco, even if he had wanted to, he wouldn't have been able to.
The problem with making things foolproof is that fools are so doggone ingenious...Dan Keebler
 
trnswrld
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RE: McDonnell Douglas--"What If?" Thread

Wed Dec 08, 2010 11:04 pm

Quoting kaitak (Reply 3):
We know today, of course, that with the exception of the 747, A340 and A380, today's widebodies are all twins - the A300 started it, then the 767, A310 and so on. I wonder what the designers who proposed the DC10 twin must have thought at the time, because they obviously had the same vision and were keeping an eye on Airbus. Things could have been so different; I still think the 767 would have gone ahead, because it is considerably smaller than the 10.


I think you meant the 767 started it THEN the A300. The 767 was designed, test flown, and in airline service before the A300 was. So in my eyes Boeing had it spot on with the 767 development. 30 years later airframes are for the most part unchanged. Yes I know the real differences are very significant, but really when you park a new 787 next to a 767 they are very similar aircraft in shape and size. The person at Boeing who first came up with the idea of the 767 truely is a significant person not only for aviation as a whole, but for the Boeing company itself.

James
 
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RE: McDonnell Douglas--"What If?" Thread

Wed Dec 08, 2010 11:36 pm

Quoting TrnsWrld (Reply 18):

I think you meant the 767 started it THEN the A300.

I don't know what history you read, but the A300 was conceived in 1966 and first flew in 1972, entering service in 1974 The 767 wasn't even launched until 1978.

[Edited 2010-12-08 15:37:44]
The problem with making things foolproof is that fools are so doggone ingenious...Dan Keebler
 
trnswrld
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RE: McDonnell Douglas--"What If?" Thread

Thu Dec 09, 2010 12:57 am

Quoting SEPilot (Reply 19):
I don't know what history you read, but the A300 was conceived in 1966 and first flew in 1972, entering service in 1974 The 767 wasn't even launched until 1978.


Oops I was basing my info off the A300-600 series. Durrrrr. Ok so I meant my exact post everything the same except put "Airbus" where "Boeing" is.  

Thanks for the correction.

James
 
comorin
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RE: McDonnell Douglas--"What If?" Thread

Thu Dec 09, 2010 1:26 am

Mac and Douglas were not a good match, and the cultural reasons have already been stated above.

The DC10 had unfortunate accidents, but the most notorious of them, the AA, could hardly be blamed on DAC.

So we have TK Paris and UA Sioux City versus the 747's non fatal UA door pop-out, JL's faulty tail section, and TW's fuel tank.. We just need to balance DC10 criticism here.

Getting back on track, I think MDD went for the MD11 to assure customers that it wasn't the DC10. By then, the market had changed for trijets. They should've come out with a wide body 2-holer but did not have the funds. The final straw was the sale to arch-rival Boeing, which effectively neutered and ended a great culture.

 
iceberg210
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RE: McDonnell Douglas--"What If?" Thread

Thu Dec 09, 2010 1:29 am

The oddest thing to me about how Douglas and McDonnell worked was that while they were all for milking things as long as they could for years I wonder why they didn't try to milk the DC8 more. The DC8-63 had very good economic numbers especially for the time, and with an upgrade to CFM's like the 70 series or even (what I'd suggest) twin engines that could have been a very dangerous and competitive airplane. With a new wing, a redone landing gear, and twin engines the DC8 could have been a huge competitor for the 757. If you think that they could only get 1/3 of that market with the DC-8 that's still 300 somewhat aircraft which is a HUGE market, especially looking at the fact that the DC8 twin would be a smaller investment than a clean sheet. Beyond that you get a plane that in all reality could have been flying in the mid to late seventies jumping the gun on the 757 and beating it to the punch somewhat which might have helped combat any efficiency differences between it and the 757.
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RE: McDonnell Douglas--"What If?" Thread

Thu Dec 09, 2010 1:37 am

I think McD should have built a twin-engine airliner derived from the DC-10 but with new wings and CF6-80 engines rated in the 55,000 to 60,000 lb. thrust range. Such an airliner could have not only seriously cut into Boeing 767 sales, but possibly have blunt the sales of the A300B since the DC-10 could put two LD3 containers side-by-side in the cargo hold, something many airlines wanted.
 
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Dano1977
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RE: McDonnell Douglas--"What If?" Thread

Thu Dec 09, 2010 1:52 am

How about starting off with a clean sheet design for the MD11 wing.

Then perhaps it might have met range and performance guarantees promised by MD, and wouldn't of needed NASA involvement to help improve its efficiency.
Children should only be allowed on aircraft if 1. Muzzled and heavily sedated 2. Go as freight
 
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UltimateDelta
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RE: McDonnell Douglas--"What If?" Thread

Fri Dec 10, 2010 11:11 pm

What if BR715s had been adapted for the DC-9-10?   

Quoting WA707atMSP (Reply 16):
This proposal also went nowhere

Just like the Mercure itself...   

More seriously, the MD-11 definitely had enormous potential, especially if it had been designed around only two engines. Of course, that never happened, but that's what's kind of fun about these threads.
Midwest Airlines- 1984-2010
 
tsugambler
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RE: McDonnell Douglas--"What If?" Thread

Tue Dec 14, 2010 7:47 pm

Quoting UltimateDelta (Reply 25):
that's what's kind of fun about these threads

My thoughts exactly!
 
AirbusA6
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RE: McDonnell Douglas--"What If?" Thread

Wed Dec 15, 2010 5:27 pm

My what if would have been n the late 60s, if...
Douglas had got together with Lockheed, to pool resources and build one tri jet, or
Douglas and Lockheed had agreed that one would build a tri jet, and one would buld a smaller twin. Either way, the carnage of DC10 vs Tristar massively affected both companies, denying them the profit needed to develop new product.
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TrijetsRMissed
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RE: McDonnell Douglas--"What If?" Thread

Thu Dec 16, 2010 4:08 am

To the OP: Great idea for a thread!

IMO, the critical point for McDonnell Douglas was the late 80s-early 90s period. MDC was riding high with the mass success of the MD-80, and F/A-18 on the military side. IIRC, more aircraft were ordered in 1983 from MDC than Boeing. There were plenty of opportunity to capitalize on this success, by producing results with the MD-11 and MD-90 programs.

  • For the MD-11, MDC should have introduced an "A" model first - filling deliveries for the first 2 years of production (Ala Boeing with the 772). This would allow performance stricken frames to be less of an issue, giving time for engineers to develop the PIPs for later standard models. As it turned out, a frame built between 94-96 met the ambitious requirements first set out. That still would have gave them a 2-3 year start on the 772ERs from Boeing, the direct competitor for the standard MD-11 and ER. More importantly, if the PIP frames were delivered later, confidence would not have been lost by many airlines in the firstplace.

  • With the MD-90, MDC should have flat out invested more - a new wing being the given. Unfortunately, management put all the eggs in the MD-11 basket. When it didn't come through initially, resources were pulled from the MD-90s development. MDC became cocky the -90 was a sure bet - given the runaway success of the -80, and therefore turned complacent with it's design. By the mid 90s the shortcomings were exposed, and it was too late.


I see many posts looking to the DC-10 and early MD-11 development era as the demise, but at the time, MDC had produced quality aircraft and were nowhere near the red. The company was hit with unfortunate circumstances (i.e. AA 191, mid 80s airline recession, etc) which shaped the later years to come. If anything during this time, the DC-8 twin could have beaten the 757 to the punch.
There's nothing quite like a trijet.
 
TrijetsRMissed
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RE: McDonnell Douglas--"What If?" Thread

Thu Dec 16, 2010 4:27 am

Quoting Northwest727 (Reply 6):
Quoting NZ2 (Reply 11):

I would strongly encourage some of you to buy McDonnell Douglas MD-80 and MD-90 and Douglas Twinjets. These books are great reads and very informative.

Implying the DC-9 and its successors are one basic design with some updates is entirely shortsighted. An MD-88 is worlds away from a DC9-50, for instance. R&D was superb through most of the design changes, just as the 737 has been. A more diversfied line would have been great, but a clean-sheet wasn't needed for the 130-180 pax category of aircraft.

Quoting comorin (Reply 21):
So we have TK Paris and UA Sioux City versus the 747's non fatal UA door pop-out, JL's faulty tail section, and TW's fuel tank.. We just need to balance DC10 criticism here.

   Thank you! Sadly, much like in the media, the criticism is never balanced between these two on Anet.
There's nothing quite like a trijet.
 
tsugambler
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RE: McDonnell Douglas--"What If?" Thread

Thu Dec 16, 2010 5:46 pm

Quoting TrijetsRMissed (Reply 28):
IMO, the critical point for McDonnell Douglas was the late 80s-early 90s period

That's a really interesting take on things... I never really thought of it from that perspective berfore. You're right, the MD-80 was a smashing success, and it was a real shame that MDC didn't devote the resources to making the MD-90 a more worthy successor. As far as I know, most people who have flown on MDC twinjets have liked them, and the airlines who have bought them apparently like to operate them--witness DL buying up all the MD-90s they can. I bet that Boeing could have sold many more 717s if they had kept the line open (and I'm thinking that right now, they're wishing they had)!

Since this is a total fantasy thread, I'm going to hope that Boeing re-opens the 717 production line, and produces both the 717-200 and a new 717-300 with a new wing/winglets and longer range. Maybe even a 717-400 stretched version!

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