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The McDonnell Douglas MD-90 is a twin-engine, short- to medium-range, single-aisle commercial jet airliner. The MD-90 was developed from the MD-80 series. Differences from the MD-80 include more fuel-efficient International Aero Engines V2500 engines and a longer fuselage. The MD-90 has a seating capacity of up to 172 passengers and was introduced into service with Delta Air Lines in 1995, which is now the final operator of the MD-90.

Delta McDonnell Douglas MD-90-30 N908DA (2933350256).jpg
Delta Air Lines MD-90, its last operator
Role Narrow-body jet airliner
National origin United States
Manufacturer McDonnell Douglas
Boeing Commercial Airplanes
First flight February 22, 1993
Introduction 1995 with Delta Air Lines
Status In service
Primary user Delta Air Lines
Produced 1993–2000
Number built 116[1]
Unit cost
US$41.5–48.5 million
Developed from McDonnell Douglas MD-80
Variants McDonnell Douglas MD-94X

The MD-90 and the subsequent MD-95/Boeing 717 were derivatives of the MD-80, which itself was commercially introduced in 1980 as a derivative of the DC-9.


Design and developmentEdit


The Douglas Aircraft Company developed the DC-9 in the 1960s as a short-range companion to their larger DC-8.[2] The DC-9 was an all-new design, using two rear fuselage-mounted turbofan engines, and a T-tail. The DC-9 has a narrow-body fuselage design with a 5-abreast seating with a capacity of 80 to 135 passengers depending on seating arrangement and aircraft version.

The second generation of the DC-9 was originally called the DC-9-80 series or the DC-9 Super 80, but it was later marketed as the MD-80[3] and entered service in 1980. McDonnell Douglas began studies into shorter derivatives of the MD-80 in 1983, these studies eventually becoming known as the MD-90. For several years, McDonnell Douglas proposed powering the MD-90 with two propfan engines,[4] such as the General Electric GE36 and the Pratt & Whitney/Allison 578-DX. By mid-1989, it was clear that there was insufficient interest in propfan-powered aircraft, so the company reworked its proposals to instead feature the IAE V2500 turbofan,[5][6] which was estimated to be $1 million cheaper than the GE36 and had already been certificated for the Airbus A320.[7] Within six weeks of eliminating the propfan option, the MD-90 secured a large launch order.[8]


The MD-90 was firmly launched on November 14, 1989, when Delta Air Lines placed an order for 50 MD-90s, with options for a further 110 aircraft.[5][9] The aircraft first flew on February 22, 1993 and the first MD-90 was delivered to Delta in February 1995.[10] The MD-90 was produced adjacent to the Long Beach Airport in Long Beach, California, USA.

China Eastern MD-90-30 showing a planform view

The MD-90 is a mid-size, medium-range airliner that was developed from the MD-80 series. It is a 5-foot-longer (1.5 m), updated version of the MD-88 with similar electronic flight instrument system (EFIS) and more powerful, quieter and fuel efficient IAE V2500 engines instead of the JT8D engines, which power the MD-80 series. This made the MD-90 the first derivative variant of the DC-9 to use a high-bypass turbofan engine. Due to the heavier engines, the pylons holding the engines featured flaps that deflect 30° downward to assist in pitching down for stall recovery. The system activates automatically when the control column is pushed fully forward.[11]

Typical seating for the MD-90 ranges from 153 to 172 passengers, depending on the cabin configuration and interior layout.[12] The MD-90 was produced in two versions: -30 and -30ER. The -30 has a range of 2,045 nmi (3,787 km). The -30ER has a higher gross weight and range up to 2,455 nmi (4,547 km) with an extra 565 US gal (2,140 L) auxiliary fuel tank.[13] An even longer-range version, the -50, was offered but was never ordered.[14]

The initial MD-90s feature an EFIS cockpit similar to the MD-88's cockpit.[15] The 29 MD-90s delivered to Saudi Arabian Airlines feature a full glass cockpit with avionics and an overhead display panel similar to the MD-11's cockpit for easy transition for the airline's pilots of the MD-11, also operated by the airline.[15][16]

Blue1 MD-90-30

No MD-90 orders were received after Boeing and McDonnell Douglas merged in 1997 due to internal competition with Boeing's 737.[17] Delta Air Lines had initially placed a large order for the MD-90 to replace some aging Boeing 727s. After the Boeing-McDonnell Douglas merger, Delta canceled their remaining 19 MD-90 orders in favor of the Boeing 737-800.[17][18] A total of 40 MD-90s (later 20) were to be assembled under contract in Shanghai, People's Republic of China under the Trunkliner program,[19][20] but Boeing's decision to phase out the MD-90 resulted in only two built by Shanghai Aircraft.[21]

MD-90 production at Long Beach, California ended in 2000 with the last airplane being delivered to Saudi Arabian Airlines,[17] and MD-90T production at Shanghai ended in 2000. With 116 MD-90 aircraft produced, the MD-90 production run was the smallest among the DC-9 family.[1] Two aircraft were also produced at Jiangwan Airfield in Shanghai, People's Republic of China.[22]

Following the MD-90 in the DC-9 family was the MD-95, which was renamed the Boeing 717-200 after McDonnell Douglas (successor to Douglas Aircraft Company) merged with Boeing in 1997.[23] The main competitors of the MD-90 included the Airbus A320 and the Boeing 737-800.


A shorter variant with the same length as the MD-87, carrying from 114 passengers in a three-class layout to 139 passengers in a high-density configuration. It has a maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) of 69.49 short tons (63.04 t; 138,980 lb; 63,040 kg) and a range of 2,410 nmi (2,780 mi; 4,470 km) with fuel reserves.[24] This variant was not built.
Unbuilt "European Community" version of the MD-90-10, with a higher MTOW and the engine thrust raised to MD-90-30 levels for an increased range of 3,000 nmi (3,450 mi; 5,550 km).[25]
Retrofit of MD-80 series aircraft to V2500 engines.
Base variant with two V2525-D5 engines and an EFIS cockpit similar to that of the MD-88. This engine also has an option to add 3,000lbf for use in Hot & High conditions if needed by activating a switch in the flight deck.
Unbuilt "European Community" version of the MD-90-30, with a higher MTOW and the engine thrust raised to MD-90-40 levels for an increased range of 2,800 nmi (3,220 mi; 5,180 km).[25]
Increased Gross Weight version, one built.
Extended Range (ER) version of MD-90-30, two built.
MD-90-30T "Trunkliner"
Variant of the MD-90-30 assembled by Shanghai Aviation Industrial Corporation in the People's Republic of China. Production was initially planned to be 40,[26] later reduced to 20,[27] with only two built in the end.[28] To accommodate the heavy aircraft on unsuitable runways, a dual tandem landing gear with more tires to spread the weight of the aircraft was designed for the Trunkliner,[29] but ultimately not used in the two aircraft produced.[30] The Comac ARJ21 is built using tooling retained by the Chinese after the end of the Chinese MD-90-30 program.[31]
Enhanced Flight Deck version of MD-90 with the same cockpit as MD-95/B717 and MD-11, 28 built.[citation needed]
A proposed 172 ft long (52.3 m) variant with a maximum capacity of up to 217 passengers, though the normal three-class layout would hold 170–180 passengers. The derivative would have a storage capacity of 1,610 cu ft (45.6 m3), a maximum takeoff weight of 81.74 short tons (74.15 t; 163,470 lb; 74,150 kg), and a height of 31 ft (9.4 m).[24] This variant was never built.
Unbuilt "European Community" version of the MD-90-40, with a higher MTOW for an increased range of 1,910 nmi (2,190 mi; 3,530 km). Other improvements include wing area enlargement/strengthening, adoption of MD-11 avionics, one-person baggage loading improvements, and better interiors.[25]
A proposed variant similar to the MD-90-30, but with two extra auxiliary fuel tanks mounted on the belly. The aircraft had an MTOW of 86.3 short tons (78.2 t; 172,500 lb; 78,200 kg), used IAE V2528 engines with 28,000 lbf (120 kN) thrust, and had an estimated range of 3,022 nmi (3,478 mi; 5,597 km).[30]
A proposed variant with two extra passenger doors and room for 187 passengers in a single-class configuration.[30]


As of September 2019, Delta Air Lines is the sole remaining operator with 30 in service.[32] Delta has been phasing out its MD-90s since 2017.[33] The airline reportedly plans to retire its MD-90s in 2022, per its second quarter 2019 earnings report.[citation needed]

Accidents and incidentsEdit

As of May 2018, the MD-90 has been involved in three incidents,[34] including one hull-loss accident,[34] with 1 fatality.[35]

Notable accidents and incidents
  • On August 24, 1999, a UNI Air MD-90 caught fire after a passenger's carry-on luggage containing gasoline was ignited by a motorcycle battery contained in another passenger's carry-on luggage. 28 people were injured with one fatality as a result of the cabin fire. The aircraft was damaged beyond economic repair.[36][37]


Saudi Arabian Airlines MD-90 with a non-standard glass cockpit
International Aero Engines V2500 engine powering the MD-90
Seating, 2–class 153-158 : 12J@36" + 141/146Y@31-33"
Seating, 1–class 163-172Y@29-33"
Cargo 1,300 cu ft (36.8 m3)
ER: 1,177 cu ft (33.3 m3)
Length 152.6 ft (46.51 m)
Fuselage height 142 in (360.7 cm)[38]
Fuselage width 131.6 in (334.3 cm)
Wingspan 107.8 ft (32.86 m)
Height 30.6 ft (9.33 m)
MTOW 156,000 lb (70,760 kg)
ER: 166,000 lb (75,296 kg)
Empty weight 88,200 lb (40,007 kg)
ER: 88,400 lb (40,098 kg)[a]
Max. payload 41,800 lb (18,960 kg)
ER: 43,600 lb (19,777 kg)
Fuel capacity 39,128 lb (17,748 kg)[b]
Turbofan engines (2×) IAE V2525-D5

25,000 lbf (111.21 kN)[c]

VMO Mach 0.84 (506 kn; 937 km/h) at 27,240 ft (8,303 m)[39]
Cruise speed Mach 0.76 (438 kn; 812 km/h) at 34,777 ft (10,600 m)[40][41]
Ceiling 37,000 ft (11,278 m)[39]
Range, 153 pax 2,045 nmi (3,787 km)
ER: 2,237 nmi (4,143 km)[d]
Takeoff runway 7,000 ft (2,134 m) at 156,000 lb, ISA, SL[38]
  1. ^ with aux fuel tank: 89,188 lb (40,455 kg)
  2. ^ with aux fuel tank: 42,913 lb (19,465 kg)
  3. ^ Option: 28,000 lbf (124.55 kN) V2528-D5
  4. ^ 2,455 nmi (4,547 km) with extra 565 US gal (2,140 L) auxiliary fuel tank

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Boeing: Commercial - Orders & Deliveries". Boeing. Retrieved 27 July 2015.
  2. ^ Norris, Guy and Wagner, Mark. Douglas Jetliners. MBI Publishing, 1999. ISBN 0-7603-0676-1.
  3. ^ History - Chronology - 1977-1982 Archived March 5, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. The Boeing Company. Retrieved 2007-12-14.
  4. ^ Adelson, Andrea (February 10, 1988). "Betting Big on a New Type of Jet Engine". New York Times. p. D8.
  5. ^ a b Swanborough 1993, p.90.
  6. ^ "McDonnell Douglas Drops $100 Million Prop-Fan Jet Engine". Long Beach, California, USA: Associated Press. October 11, 1989.
  7. ^ "New assembly line for MD-90 Series" (PDF). Flight International. 24 June 1989.
  8. ^ United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (August 1990). Preliminary technology cost estimates of measures available to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 2010 (Report). Attachment D: Memo from Michael Kavanaugh on UDF aircraft engine (PDF pages 125–134).
  9. ^ Dallos, Robert E.; Vartabedian, Ralph (November 15, 1989). "Delta Places $10-Billion Order for 260 Jetliners: Aviation: The airline will buy Douglas MD-90s and Boeing 737s. Long Beach firm now has a huge backlog". Los Angeles Times. New York, New York and Long Beach, California, USA.
  10. ^ "Boeing: Commercial Airplanes - MD-90 Background". Archived from the original on 2013-02-16. Retrieved 16 July 2015.
  11. ^ "Powerfully quiet" (PDF). Flight International. 26 October - 1 November, 1994: 37.
  12. ^ "Boeing: Commercial Airplanes - MD-90 Technical Characteristics". Archived from the original on 2013-03-08. Retrieved 16 July 2015. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  13. ^ a b "MD-90" (PDF). Startup. Boeing. June 1, 2007.
  14. ^ MD-90 page, Retrieved 2008-12-08. Archived 2008-03-11 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ a b Becher 2002, p. 105.
  16. ^ Saudia Calls for Honeywell Flat Panel Cockpit Displays for New MD-90s Archived 2008-07-27 at the Wayback Machine. Honeywell. February 6, 1996. Retrieved: 2008-12-08.
  17. ^ a b c Becher 2002, pp. 102-105.
  18. ^ Delta's 1997 Annual Report, Delta Air Lines. Retrieved 2008-12-08.
  19. ^ China Northern Airlines Receives First MD-90 Aircraft, The Boeing Company. Retrieved 2008-12-08. Archived 2008-04-18 at the Wayback Machine
  20. ^ "Cox Report - May 25, 1999".
  21. ^ Boeing in China, The Boeing Company. Retrieved 2008-12-08. Archived 2008-10-20 at the Wayback Machine
  22. ^ Shanghai Jiangwan Airfield. Global Security. Retrieved: 2008-12-09.
  23. ^ Boeing Chronology, 1997-2001 Archived January 2, 2013, at the Wayback Machine, Boeing
  24. ^ a b "MD-90 family will include 180-seater 40 variant" (PDF). Technical: Air Transport. Flight International. December 12, 1989. p. 16.
  25. ^ a b c Postlethwaite, Alan (February 21–27, 1990). "Europe offered new variant of MD-90" (PDF). Flight International.
  26. ^ Mintz, J., Sale of Aircraft Machinery to China Shows Perils of Exporting Technology, Washington Post, June 7, 1998. Retrieved 2008-12-09.
  27. ^ "China Northern Airlines Receives First MD-90" (Press release). McDonnell Douglas Corporation. July 26, 1996. Archived from the original on December 17, 2000. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  28. ^ Becher 2002, p. 104.
  29. ^ Bailey, J., "China: Boeing argues MDC lead". Flight International, May 1–7, 1991. Retrieved 2008-12-09.
  30. ^ a b c Forecast International (May 2002). Civil aircraft forecast: Boeing MD-80/90 Series - archived 5/2003 (PDF) (Report). p. 4. Archived from the original on February 26, 2009. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  31. ^ Burchell, Bill. "Setting Up Support For Future Regional Jets". Aviation Week, October 13, 2010.[dead link]
  32. ^ "Delta Air Lines Fleet Details and History". Retrieved September 6, 2019.
  33. ^ Russell, Edward (2018-07-13). "Delta pulls newer MD-90s over MD-88s in fleet update". Retrieved 2019-01-23.
  34. ^ a b McDonnell Douglas MD-90 incidents., May 25, 2018.
  35. ^ McDonnell Douglas MD-90 Accident Statistics., May 25, 2018.
  36. ^ MD-90 UNI Air accident on August 24, 1999. Retrieved: August 9, 2010.
  37. ^ "Accident Investigation Report UIA 873, B-17912MD-90-30 cabin explosion and fire during landing roll Hua-Lien, Taiwan" (PDF). August 24, 2000. Archived (PDF) from the original on September 24, 2015. Retrieved August 14, 2014. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  38. ^ a b "MD-90-30 airplane characteristics for airport planning" (PDF). Boeing. Oct 2002.
  39. ^ a b "Type Certificate Data Sheet" (PDF). FAA. March 25, 2014.
  40. ^ John Bailey (6 December 1989). "Douglas uses MD-80 to speed MD-90". Flight International.
  41. ^ Kane, Robert M. (2003). Air Transportation: 1903–2003 (14th ed.). pp. 586–588. ISBN 0-7872-8881-0. LCCN 2002105811. OCLC 50695027.
  • Becher, Thomas. Douglas Twinjets, DC-9, MD-80, MD-90 and Boeing 717. The Crowood Press, 2002. ISBN 1-86126-446-1.
  • Swanborough, Gordon. "A 'Ninety for the 'Nineties". Air International, August 1993, Vol 45 No 2. Stamford, UK:Key Publishing. pp. 90–95

External linksEdit