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How the Boeing jet no one wanted became the plane airlines scour the planet for (BA, DAL)

The Boeing 717-200 went out of production in 2006. Only 156 of the planes have been built. A decade later, the airlines that operate the 717 want more of them. ( More...

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The 717 is a very modern DC 9- 30. It has upgraded modern quiet fuel saving engines. Mc Donald Douglas improved upon a tried and true aircraft. Unfortunately MD did not survive as an independent company. When Boeing took over MD there was no reason to continue building an aircraft that was in direct competition with the 737 line. So the MD 90 aka 717 was dropped.
All of the Delta 717 aircraft that were acquired from Southwest were Aircraft that belonged to Midwest Airlines out of Milwaukee. Sadly Northwest Airlines owned 49% of Midwest, when the Merger of Delta with Northwest occurred it was determined to shut down Midwest. The sad part when the Midwest Pilots asked to be included in some way, even getting interviews with Delta they were rebuffed. When Republic Airways took over some of the Midwest routes, Midwest Pilots were offered jobs on the bottom of the Republic (not the Republic that became part of Northwest in the 1980s) list.
The reason they were not given there hire dates at Midwest was that they had no equipment i.e. Aircraft. So they had no right to any seniority claim. So those Midwest Pilots who were still with the company at the end who had the most seniority were not offered a chance at employment where their aircraft went. I.e. Air Tran, Southwest or Delta. This is where their entire fleet ended up. Wonderful thing this industry. If you were a Midwest Pilot and stayed with the company to the end, you pretty well at that time got the short end of the stick. If you got furloughed earlier you got a job with another carrier that would end up with the Midwest Aircraft. You jumped the seniority list. The 717 is a fine aircraft as well as all the DC9 series aircraft were. They outlasted the competition they were built to compete with , 727, by many years it by the way was also a fine aircraft.
Comments about the 757, it is truly a pilots aircraft, over powered fun to fly in a wonderful cockpit. While I was flying them, I was told it was our most economic nominal and profitable aircraft when operated at its optimum load. It was used heavily on all nightt red eye flights that were low yield. I am surprised that so many are now being sent to their deaths in the bone yards. It has been commented how uncomfortable planes are, well when you jam seats together wit 17 inches of leg room nothing is going to be comfortable. Remember once upon a time there were only 100 seats on 707s.

Leon Kay 1
Wow, this Boeing 717 posting has really attracted many comments. Thank you George Werderich for that elaborate and complete summary of the situation. That puts the entire Boeing 717 discussion in a better perspective. This is a great website, just a pity that some readers post slanderous comment like "How about doing a better job of editing" or "you need to go back to school" or use some foul language sometimes. Fortunately the website manager responds by removing foul language or non-aircraft related comments that I report. Just a request to be more tolerant towards non USA citizens as we don't all have the same command of the English language (like myself in South Africa, where English is not our home language). Our spell checker uses the UK version where the spelling sometimes varies, and grammar mistakes are not always corrected.
Aloha Hawaiian's 717's!
patrick baker 5
now the boeing company has two aircraft that it could sell if they reopened the production lines: 757 and 717. Both are useful now and for the forseeable future, so what's the problem, other than cannibalization of the remainder of boeing's production lines?
Leon Kay 4
My wife and I flew in a Hawaiian Airlines Boeing 717 between Kahului, Maui to Honolulu in 2009. We experienced it as a smooth and comfortable flight although it only lasted about 30 minutes. We also wondered why this nice aircraft went out of production.
I, too, fly Hawaiian's 717 on the interisland flights, usually HNL-LIH-HNL, its a very comfortable plane, with lots of window- aisle combinations. Mahalo Hawaiian!
Matha Goram 4
What are the basic visual differences between B-717 and DC-9 (for spotting purposes)?
The horizontal T-tail of the 717 always has that paint free strip around it that's triangular in the front. MD-80/90s usually have paint there, and when they don't there's a square dimple in the front to the paint free area. And yes, the engines are different, but that feels like a harder spot to me. The paint seems easier. (And of course the proportions are a little different, since the 717 is shorter than most of the MDs. All of them, really, though only by a little in the case of the 87s.) Anyway . . . I'm going to miss those birds. They're really quite lovely. And they give a good ride. I think I'm going to have to say I much prefer them to 737s. Ah well.
I really enjoy Hawaiian's 717, and like the 2-3 configuration over the 737's 3-3 seating. The 737 in all it's models is a fine aircraft, too.
Mike Quaid 2
Engines on the later MD-81 on sub to include the 717 were the JT8D-217 or 219. The nacelles had a strake on the outboard aft lower section. Cannot miss it. The DC9 and early MD-81's had the older less power engine and no strake.
mtpiper 2
Mike Quaid 2
Those same engines used on 727's in outboard positions turned that airplane in to a rocket ship. Valsan mod.
victorbravo77 2
Livery? ... from the article:

‘Rub on that Boeing logo with a brillo pad and some soapy water and you'll soon find the words McDonnell Douglas imprinted on the plane.’
SmokedChops 5
The 717 (MD-95) was the culmination of McDonnell Douglas 40 odd years of tweaking, adjusting and improving. Boeing did not work terribly hard at marketing because it was in competition with their own single aisle twin. Most of Delta's 712'scame from AirTran (SWA did not want them). Used to fly Moline to ATL on AirTran, miss the Citrus.
Sidney Smith 2
Ahhh, the Mad Dog Lives! The Diesel Nine! McBoeing built a great plane. I used to fuel DC-9-30 and 50's that were older than I was. Other than the quirky set up to manually lower the landing gear pretty decent rig! The manual gear release is under the co-pilot's seat, he/she has to get out of the seat to operate it.
This was the actual website that posted the correct info on this
Terry Briggs 2
I've never had a bad ride on any variant of a MadDog. Ditto for the 727's. I think it's somehow related to the power being on the fuselage instead of hanging off the flexing wings.
I'd like to see an engineer's math on that, but it makes sense to a layman. You're concentrating mass in the middle. Should roll more easily, but maybe pitch less. And the wings make pretty good roll dampers anyway. I wonder if that increases wing flex, since the mass is more concentrated at the center of the wing truss. I suppose it might just. Softer suspension equals a more comfortable ride? That would explain an odd conversation I had with a flight attendant the other day. (She said she's had much better rides in regionals, generally, than in 737/A320s or even widebodies.)
Hmm . . . Any engineers floating around here want to weigh in?
panam1971 2
From a spotter's perspective, they are visually more distinctive than the endless parade of look-alike twin underwing jets.
Roy Troughton 2
Delta has a large fleet of both B717's and MD90's and while they not as efficient as new aircraft the amount of capital expenditure is far less. Northwest also took the same approach with the DC-9's. Delta have also been adding some used B737-800's to the fleet. They are obviously not opposed to buying new aircraft, but if a bargain presents itself in the used aircraft market they are ready to snap it up.
Edward Bardes 1
What exactly is getting in the way of Boeing restarting production of aircraft that it used to make?
I'd guess a couple of things: They've closed and I believe sold the plant where they built them. That means they'd have to open a new line, most likely somewhere else, which means new tooling, new employees, and quite probably new buildings. Second, the "not invented here" thing would be a real problem. Though . . . maybe now that the C-series is smacking them in the gob they could get over that part. An updated MD would be a fantastic aircraft. But anyway . . . I don't see Boeing building it.
Pa Thomas 1
The plant for the 717 at Long Beach is now leased by Mercedes Benz to store cars that arrive at the local ports. Since the 717 line ended in 2006, nothing is the same on that side of Long Beach airport. Boeing developed the land into an industrial park. A few weeks ago I drove by and even the giant jet blast deflectors that had stood for decades were gone. The good/bad news is the "Fly DC Jets" sign that is still on top of the old plant building will be preserved and moved to, well, a strip mall at the corner of Lakewood Blvd and Carson. My guess it will give the sign a boost in popularity. I hope.
Glad to hear the sign will be preserved. Being a St. Louis native, I have fond memories of both McDonnel Douglas and the DC-9 family, of which TWA owned more than a few. One of my abiding regrets is that I never had the chance to ride a DC-10, since TWA went the other way on that one. And now I suspect I never will. On top of everything else, old advertising of that sort is lovely and increasingly rare.

I was looking around G-maps and wondering which building had been the DC-9 line. That answers my question. Missed the sign, somehow, but I recall finding the Daimler Benz logo on the side of something that looked suspiciously like an aircraft assembly building. Boeing also sold the old Phantom line here, which I believe might have been the F-15 line after. Looks pretty sad these days, but there might be better days ahead, and it's still in the aviation business, at least.
ron baird 1
I used to regularly commute between Kona, Hawaii and Honolulu on Hawaiian.
The 717 is the most comfortable, quiet ride you can experience. Too bad the flights were only 30 minutes long.
I can't wait for my vacation this year and to fly Hawaiian again in those wonderful aircraft.
T Neagle 1
Flew rather extensively throughout the U.S. in my career but never on a 717 until on a tour of Australia on Qantas. Was thoroughly impressed with the airline but couldn't believe Boeing had a "large regional jet" (oxymoron acknowledged). Great airline. Great plane.
Iain Maciver 1
Just flew 3 qantas flights in 717 aircraft. Nice plane, none of the issues prior posters are referring to. So I can see where some want more 717s in their lineup.
We fly the B-717 from time to time on Hawaiian's interisland flights, it is a very comfortable, quiet aircraft, I like flying this type. Its perfect for these short hop flights.
ddwinter 1
The original Boeing model 717 was more commonly known as the USAF KC-135, the second 717 is just a pretender.
ilkleymoor 2
The KC 135 ia a derivative of the C 135, which had the same basic airframe as the Boing 707. The 717 is based upon the Douglas DC 9
As I understand it, a C-135/KC-135 data plate has "B717" for model. The KC-135 fuselage is narrower than the 707.

When United Airlines asked Boeing for a lighter, faster version of the 707, Boeing produced the 707-020 which got relabeled the 720 for advertising reasons. While there was some discussion of calling it the 717 early on, that stopped when the sales folks were informed that 717 was already assigned to the KC-135.

Officially, the McBoeing 717 is called the 717-200.
panam1971 1
You are quite correct.
Mark Lansdell 1
Does that make it a plane before it's time? The shoe seems to fit.
Randall Kimm -6
How is this model a plane for its time. Its a noisy gas puzzling short-hauloer. You would be better off with the CRJ which can comfortably seat 100 people for a medium range flights. It's also quieter than the 717 and 737. Better still put your prejudice away.
Take a serious look at the C-Series, you just might be pleasantly surprised. If you get a chance to fly on this revolutionary take it. It is a quiet aircraft on the inside.
SmokedChops 6
the 717 is far from the JT8D powered MD80. The BMW/Rolls BR715 turbofans are quiet clean and efficient- otherwise Bombardier would not have selected them for the Global Express, nor Golfstream on the G5.
Randall Kimm -2
They are not nearly as efficiently like the new geared turbofans. This engine will give you better performance for your aviation fuel hence reducing cost.
It has the lowest emissions of all aircraft flying today. Anything claiming the same performance is a patent lie. I have said this before, but it is correct to call the Bombardier C-Series the world's greenest aircraft. The facts support this assertion. Pratt & Whitney developed a game changing engine to bring this positive change about. This in turn also reduced the aircrafts lower noise footprint near communities. The cabin in the C-Series is much more quiet allowing you to feel more refreshed at the end of your journey.
jptq63 1
Question / not trying to push: given it is the P&W geared engine making most (subjective here maybe?) of the difference in fuel efficiency, IF the 717 still was and the P&W put on, which would make more sense? Which situations?
Ric Wernicke 1
Sorry, I fly a glider that is greener than your C series any day, quieter too!
You still need a tow. ~I~ fly whatever I want in Flight Simulator on a computer powered by hydroelectric generators. Still make a hell of a lot of virtual craters, though... ;^}
They can get one it is now called a C Series :)
Don Erickson -2
How about doing a better job of editing. Riddled with distracting mistakes.
john hicks -3
Mike Quaid -1
I have flown on two Delta flights recently that utilized the 717. I must say it was the most uncomfortable plane I have ever been on. I will any future flights that utilize this plane.
Fly Hawaiian, they use them exclusively on the interisland flights, mahalo, Hawaiian!
Boeing needs to throw a new interior in the Aircraft to match Airbus then roll her back out at the same time lets re introduce the B-757. Classic
sueridge307 -1
Originally posted before your post


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