Let’s start with the Super98 mods. The drag reduction is designed in two phases. Phase 1 weighs less than 200lb and consists of 17 add-on elements to reduce drag. Kit one is expected to save 283 000 dollar per aircraft per year with fuel price at 3 dollar per gallon. Deliveries are expected third quarter this year, although I am not sure if any customers have made an order public. Phase 2 has indicated an overall drag reduction of 4.49 % and includes 777 long range-like wingtips, divergent trailing edge wing treatment, rudder sealing and the addition of an aft fuel tank to enable aft center of gravity changes to improve cruise trim.
The company consists mostly of ex-McDonnell Douglas and Boeing engineering veterans. The kits might be offered for the MD-90 and 717 later on.
Another modification to the MD-80 is the QuietEagle Noise seduction System. Is it rude to say that it has been too quiet from this program? It offers up to six decibel noise reduction making it Stage 4 and Chapter 4 compliant. QuietEagle is designe by PW, but sold exclusively by Aviation Fleet Solutions.
Then we have Dugan Kinetics that offers an EP-80 ejector thrust reverser that they claim offer a 5-10 % fuel burn reduction depending on the flight profile. They have received the FAA award, but from what I have been garnering of information no airline has opted to buy the Dugan ejector. Because the ejector increase airflow and thereby increases thrust, the engine can be kept at a lower thrust making the engine Stage 4 compliant according to Dugan Kinetics.
Finally I have not found out anything yet about ongoing cockpit mods or cabin mods. DL (NW) installed 717 interior in the DC-9. It should be possible for the MD-80 as well. Some of AA’s MD-80 leases expire in 2024. In that timeframe the NextGen ATC might force some cockpit updates for the MD-80 down the road.
Photo © Sven De Bevere
Photo © The Douglas Aircraft Company (Jammy Lee)