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737 Vs. MD-80

Wed Sep 06, 2000 3:54 am

What are the technical advantages and disadvantages of the 737 compared with those of the MD-80?

It seems to me that these two planes have pretty comparable ranges and pax capacities.

Why would an airline want to have both types of aircraft?

Thanks for the answers to these questions.

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RE: 737 Vs. MD-80

Wed Sep 06, 2000 6:21 am

The target market is just about the same. MD80 wants to cruise slightly faster, but is often required to go slow behind 737s (even worse behind F100s).

Why would an airline want both? How about protection if one type gets grounded ala DC10s in the not so distant past.

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RE: 737 Vs. MD-80

Wed Sep 06, 2000 10:02 am

I think a lot has to do with history, or rather experience with a type. You also have to look at time frames...As far as I know, no one airline bought 737's and MD80's concurrently and have both types mainly due to mergers and the fact the MD80 was being phased out anyway manufacturing wise...and I'm not so sure it was because Boeing bought the lot. Though they fullfill ostensibly the same missions, and discounting their obvious differences ( T-tail vs Conventional ) they are mechanically very different than each other...totally different schools of thought. Plusses and minusses ( IMO ) that tend to cancel each others out. As an A&P ( mechanic ) who works on both...and whose peers include many pre-merger people who were "brought up" on different planes...The Boeing or Douglas friendly debates rage on, each side having good points to support their arguments. -- Douglas simplicity or Boeing all sounds like Ford vs Chevrolet, Coke vs Pepsi with their brand loyal devotees waxing enthusiastic for "their" plane and deriding Brand X's.
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RE: 737 Vs. MD-80

Thu Sep 07, 2000 6:09 pm

in my opinion one of the advantage of the B737 versus the MD-80 is the availability of the CFM56 power plant.
Both the DC-9/MD-80 and the B737-200 used the P&W JT8D low bypass ratio turbofan but when Boeing chose the new CFM56 for its B737-300, Douglas didn't offered nothing comparable for its Md-80 and only with the MD-90 they offered a high bypass ratio turbofan, but it was too late.

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RE: 737 Vs. MD-80

Thu Sep 07, 2000 10:05 pm

From a ground handeling point of view the MDC product is far better then Boeing's. The DC-9/MD-80/MD-90/717 requires minimal ground equipment. The cargo bin doors are located very low to the ground not requiring a belt loader. All of the ground service ports are easily accessible without ladders. The 737's potable water panel is out of reach of alot of people, and it is next to imposible to load the aft cargo bin of a 737 without a belt loader. Ground power hookups for the MDC product are logicaly on the port side where the jetway comes up to, but Boeing still seems to want to put theirs on the starboard side... A 737 requires a push back tug, (yes frontier and other airlines have been known to power back 737s) but for the most part a pushback is a must. The MDC product can be powered back from the gate . To effeciently handle an MDC product you need, A baggage tug and thats it. The 737 would require belt loaders, push back tugs, a ladder to reach the potable water if service was needed etc... My only gripe about the MDC products is the cockpit is very cramped compared to the 737.
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RE: 737 Vs. MD-80

Thu Sep 07, 2000 10:46 pm

Good points Wilcharl. I never looked at it from a ground handling ( ramp rat? ) or ergonomic perspective. I would say that yes, the T-tail Douglases require less equipment for that purpose...BUT- on the mechanics POV lets's see: Engines: 737's are ground accessable, Douglases are not. APU: Douglases are ground accessable thrugh easily opened doors, though some components on it are a _bitch_ to get to. 737 APU's are high up and require a lift platform for anything other than oil service ( ladder ) and it is under an unweildy firepoof shroud ( pre NG ), though with the shroud removed everything is easy to get at. I can't tell you how many times I've bonked myself on the head or back trying to walk ( squat ) under a "nine" or "eighty" to cross under it's fuselage. Where powerbacks aren't used DC9/80 towbars are a royal PIA to hook up and detatch for one person. Boeings are much simpler and easier. DC9/80's equipped with nosewheel spray deflectors are a PIA to change nosewheels on-- adds a full 20 minutes or so that could delay the plane. Too many good/bad points on each A/C to say which is better...especially when personal biases are factored in 
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RE: 737 Vs. MD-80

Thu Sep 07, 2000 10:50 pm

Add that the 737's jump seat, which is not very good, is a lot better to ride on than the jump seat on an MD-80.
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RE: 737 Vs. MD-80

Fri Sep 08, 2000 7:38 am

I forgot about the MDC's tires NKP S2 .... The tow bar is defently a PIA on them and the fod deflectors on the 80s and 717s making the tire change fun... Other then having to be up in the air the 717 looks confortable to work on the engines ive seen 2 mechs laying up in the engines accesss panel.. (im assuming its designed to support the weight... We did a promo video for Boeing on the 717 showing how easily it was for the ramp rats, and they were 5 minutes trying to get the tow bar off... I hope boeign cut that part out
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RE: 737 Vs. MD-80

Fri Sep 08, 2000 5:19 pm

I worked 737's and MD-80's when I was working for Alaska and I definatly prefered the 737's.

As far as GSE goes. When I was working with Reeve we had 727's and they sit higher then the 737. We serviced those aircraft without needing beltloaders to get into the compartment. Which was handy since the stations beltloader was out of service half the time.

The 737 does sit a bit higher it isn't so high that you can't jump in from the ground. The rear baggage compartment is a little higher on both aircraft. The pit immediatly aft on the rear baggage compartment does slope rapidly up on the 737 so it does make it a little tricky but on the MD-80 it is flatter but instead of an Aluminum floor it was covered in Gilliner which distorted between the ribs and made it very difficult to slide things on it. The way the doors on the 737 are designed the floor extends all the way to the sill of the door, again it makes it really easy to slide things on it. On the MD-80 the floor stops about four inches or so behind the outer lip. The bottom of the door fits in this space. This means that there is a gap between a beltloader and the floor of the aircraft, Also there are bolt and nut heads that stick up in this area. This again is an area that bags will snag on. Som MD-80's have a fiberglass door that goes behind the outside door. Its purpose is to keep items from falling and blocking the door, This is a good idea 737's don't have it, and anybody who has had to remove a cabin floor to get into the cargo bin will see where this is a good idea. One nice thing about the 737 sitting higher is that the wing is higher of the ground, which keeps it farther away from any GSE that may be operating around the aircraft. Definate safetey advantage. But if you are fueling the aircraft the lower MD-80 wing is better to work with. You don't need a three step latted to get to the fueling/defueling valves. I do prefer the MD-80's three shorter bellies to the 737's longer two.

As far as the ground connects go. If you operate off of a jet way they are better on the left side of the aircraft. If you are using a stairtruck of the left hand internal stairs you really want the GPU on the other side. That way the noise is farther away from the boarding passengers and it keeps the turn around activities limited to one side of the aircraft
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RE: 737 Vs. MD-80

Tue Sep 12, 2000 7:16 am

I appreciate all of the comments so far. Let me throw another spin on this question...

What are the technical advantages from a passenger's perspective? Put yourself in my seat. What should I appreciate about the 737 vs. the MD-80? Anything besides 2-3 vs 3-3 seating?

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RE: 737 Vs. MD-80

Tue Sep 12, 2000 7:54 am

The best airplane is the one you have to work on the least. Dad hated to work on Convair 440s, because everything was hard to get to. But he didn't have to work on them much, because they were generally reliable.

Dad liked Convairs.
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RE: 737 Vs. MD-80

Tue Sep 12, 2000 10:34 am

Actually, Alaska airlines was ording both the 737-400 and MD-83 at the same time in the early nineties. Both A/C were being used with the same 140 seats but for different markets, with the 737s used more in the state of Alaska and the MD-80 in the lower 48 and to Mexico. I think the reasons for AS getting both A/C was purely a financial one, with ILFC offering 22 737-400s to AS. This allowed AS to retire all of its 727s. There are pro and cons to both A/C. The 737 is much more fuel effeicent while the MD is faster and better for "hot and high" airports. Another advantage of the 737-400 is that it has a larger cargo capacity, very important for AS in the state of Alaska.
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RE: 737 Vs. MD-80

Tue Sep 19, 2000 6:27 am

737s are louder inside, especially in front (wind noise). 80s are a little less busy looking, I think. The MD is trucky loud in the rear (but that's a long way back). The climb pitch of the 80 is most amazing. MD-80 wings are cleaner looking. From a pilot's view the MD windshield might be preferred (the center window instead of the Boeing post).

They both perform well. The 80 has the aft stairway making non-jetway deplaning easy.

The Boeing has fuel in wings and perhaps in center section of wings (safer than fuel up to the side, non-wing engines).

MD-80 has main gear doors.

Pilots get whipped around more with pitch movements in the 80 than in the 37.

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RE: 737 Vs. MD-80

Sun Sep 24, 2000 1:36 pm

I'm not an expert but might the MD-80 be easier to operate at more primitave airports where...
-the lack of stairs is ok because they are built in
-the engines being located higher up means they would suck in less junk from the taxiways/runways.
-as mentioned before the MD-80 has a pretty impressive climb rate.

Also the front of an MD-80 is so great...then again the back is the worst way to fly. Well I'm a devoted MD-80 fan. What about CO, did they order both MD-80s and 733/735s at the same time?

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