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Subject: Northwest Airlines fleet, McDonnell Douglas MD-11, Continental Airlines, Japan Airlines, JALways
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A DC-10-30 of Ariana Afghan Airlines in 1980.
Role Wide-body jet airliner
National origin United States
Manufacturer McDonnell Douglas
First flight August 29, 1970
Introduction August 5, 1971 with American Airlines
Status In service as cargo aircraft
Primary users FedEx Express
KF Cargo
Transportes Aéreos Bolivianos
United Airlines (historical)
Produced 1968–1988
Number built DC-10: 386[1]
KC-10: 60[1]
Variants McDonnell Douglas KC-10 Extender
Developed into McDonnell Douglas MD-11

The McDonnell Douglas DC-10 is a three-engine wide-body jet airliner manufactured by McDonnell Douglas. The DC-10 has range for medium- to long-haul flights, capable of carrying a maximum of 380 passengers. Its most distinguishing feature is the two turbofan engines mounted on underwing pylons and a third engine at the base of the vertical stabilizer. The model was a successor to McDonnell Douglas's DC-8 for long-range operations, and competed in the same markets as the Lockheed L-1011 TriStar, which has a similar layout. The DC-10 had a poor safety record initially that was continuously improved over the years.

Production of the DC-10 ended in 1989 with 386 delivered to airlines and 60 to the U.S. Air Force as air-to-air refueling tankers, designated KC-10 Extender.[2] The largest operator of the DC-10 is U.S. cargo airline FedEx Express. The DC-10 was succeeded by the related McDonnell Douglas MD-11. Boeing, which merged with McDonnell Douglas in 1997, conducted an upgrade program that equipped many in-service DC-10s with a glass cockpit that eliminated the flight engineer position; the upgraded aircraft were re-designated as MD-10s. The DC-10's last commercial passenger flight took place in February 2014, although freighter versions continue to operate. A few DC-10s are on display, while other retired aircraft are in storage. DC-10s are also used for specialist services, such as the Orbis International Flying Eye Hospital, which has a compartment for performing eye surgery.


Following an unsuccessful proposal for the U.S. Air Force's CX-HLS (Heavy Logistics System) in 1965, Douglas Aircraft began design studies based on its CX-HLS design. In 1966, American Airlines offered a specification to manufacturers for a widebody aircraft smaller than the Boeing 747 but capable of flying similar long-range routes from airports with shorter runways. The DC-10 became McDonnell Douglas's first commercial airliner after the merger between McDonnell Aircraft Corporation and Douglas Aircraft Company in 1967.[3] An early DC-10 design proposal was for a four-engine double-deck wide-body jet airliner with a maximum seating capacity of 550 passengers similar in length of a DC-8. The proposal was shelved in favor of a trijet single-deck wide-body airliner with a maximum seating capacity of 399 passengers, and similar in length to the DC-8 Super 60.[4]

The DC-10 was first ordered by launch customers American Airlines with 25 orders, and United Airlines with 30 orders and 30 options in 1968.[5][6] The first DC-10, a series 10, made its maiden flight on August 29, 1970.[7] Following a test program with 929 flights covering 1,551 hours, the DC-10 received its type certificate from the FAA on July 29, 1971.[8] It entered commercial service with American Airlines on August 5, 1971 on a round trip flight between Los Angeles and Chicago. United Airlines began DC-10 service on August 16, 1971.[9] American's DC-10s had 206 seats and United's had 222; both had six-across seating in first-class and eight-across (four pairs) in coach.[10] The DC-10's similarity to the Lockheed L-1011 in design, passenger capacity, and launch date resulted in a sales competition that affected profitability of the aircraft.

The first DC-10 version was the "domestic" series 10 with a range of 3,800 miles (3,300 nmi, 6,110 km) with a typical passenger load and a range of 2,710 miles (2,350 nmi, 4,360 km) with maximum payload. The series 15 had a typical load range of 4,350 miles (3,780 nmi, 7,000 km).[11][12] The series 20 was powered by Pratt & Whitney JT9D turbofan engines, whereas the series 10 and 30 engines were General Electric CF6. Before delivery of its aircraft, Northwest's president asked that the "series 20" aircraft be redesignated "series 40" because the aircraft was much improved over the original design. The FAA issued the series 40 certificate on October 27, 1972.[13]

A FedEx Express MD-10-10, a modernized DC-10-10, landing at San Jose International Airport

The series 30 and 40 were the longer-range "international" versions. The main visible difference between the models is that the series 10 has three sets of landing gear (one front and two main) while the series 30 and 40 have an additional centerline main gear. The center main two-wheel landing gear (which extends from the center of the fuselage) was added to distribute the extra weight and for additional braking. The series 30 had a typical load range of 6,220 mi (10,010 km) and a maximum payload range of 4,604 mi (7,410 km). The series 40 had a typical load range of 5,750 miles (9,265 km) and a maximum payload range of 4,030 miles (3,500 nmi, 6,490 km).[11][14]

Eventually, the DC-10 was able to distinguish itself from its competitor with two engine options, as well as earlier introduction of longer-range variants than the L-1011. The 446th and final DC-10 rolled off the Long Beach, California Products Division in production line in December 1988 and was delivered to Nigeria Airways in July 1989.[2][15] The production run exceeded the 1971 estimate of 438 deliveries needed to break even on the project.[16] As the final DC-10s were delivered McDonnell Douglas had started production of its successor, the MD-11.[17]


DC-10-30 flight deck

The DC-10 is a low-wing cantilever monoplane, powered by three turbofan engines. Two engines are mounted on pylons that attach to the bottom of the wings, while the third engine is encased in a protective banjo-shaped structure that is mounted on the top of the rear fuselage. The vertical stabilizer with its two-segment rudder, is mounted on top of the tail engine banjo. The horizontal stabilizer with its four-segment elevator is attached to the sides of the rear fuselage in the conventional manner. The airliner has a retractable tricycle landing gear. To enable higher gross weights, the later -30 and -40 series have an additional two-wheel main landing gear, which retracts into the center of the fuselage.[18]

It was designed for medium to long-range flights that can accommodate 250 to 380 passengers, and is operated by a cockpit flight crew of three. The fuselage has underfloor stowage for cargo and baggage.[19]


Original variants

A Hawaiian Airlines DC-10-10
The DC-10-10 is the initial passenger version, produced from 1970 to 1981. The DC-10-10 was equipped with GE CF6-6 engines, which was the first civil engine version from the CF6 family. A total of 122 were built.[20]
The -10CF is a convertible passenger and cargo transport version of the -10. Eight were built for Continental Airlines and one for United Airlines.[20]
The -15 variant was designed for use at hot and high airports. The series 15 is basically a -10 fitted with higher-thrust GE CF6-50C2F (derated DC-10-30 engines) powerplants.[21] The -15 was first ordered in 1979 by Mexicana and Aeroméxico. Seven were completed between 1981 and 1983.[22]

Longer-range variants

Japan Airlines DC-10-40 at Kansai International Airport in 2001
FedEx became the first U.S. carrier to equip its aircraft with an anti-missile defense system in 2006. The gray oval Northrop Grumman Guardian pod can be seen on the belly of this FedEx MD-10 between and just aft of the main landing gear.
A proposed version of the DC-10-10 with extra fuel tanks, 3-ft (0.9 m) extensions on each wingtip and a rear center landing gear. It was to use Pratt & Whitney JT9D-15 turbofan engines, each producing 45,500 lbf (203 kN) of thrust, with a maximum takeoff weight of 530,000 lb (240,400 kg). But engine improvements led to increased thrust and increased takeoff weight.[23] Northwest Orient Airlines, one of the launch customers for this longer-range DC-10 requested the name change to DC-10-40.[24]
A long-range model and the most common model produced. It was built with General Electric CF6-50 turbofan engines and larger fuel tanks to increase range and fuel efficiency, as well as a set of rear center landing gear to support the increased weight. It was very popular with European flag carriers. A total of 163 were built from 1972 to 1988 and delivered to 38 different customers.[25] The model was introduced in service on November 30, 1972, with Swissair and KLM as its first customers.
The convertible cargo/passenger transport version of the -30. The first deliveries were to Overseas National Airways and Trans International Airlines in 1973. A total of 27 were built.[20]
The extended-range version of the -30. The -30ER aircraft has a higher maximum takeoff weight of 590,000 lb (267,600 kg), is powered by three GE CF6-50C2B engines each producing 54,000 lbf (240 kN) of thrust and is equipped with an additional fuel tank in the rear cargo hold.[26][27] It has an additional 700 mi of range to 6,600 mi (5,730 nmi, 10,620 km). The first of this variant was delivered to Finnair in 1981. A total of six were built and five -30s were later converted to -30ERs.
Also known as the DC-10-30F. This was the all freight version of the -30. Production was to start in 1979, but Alitalia did not confirm its order then. Production began in May 1984 after the first aircraft order from FedEx. A total of 10 were built.[28]
The first long-range version fitted with Pratt & Whitney JT9D engines. Originally designated DC-10-20, this model was renamed DC-10-40 after a special request from Northwest Orient Airlines as the aircraft was much improved compared to its original design, with a higher MTOW (on par with the Series 30) and more powerful engines. The airline's president wanted to advertise he had the latest version.[24][29] The company also wanted its aircraft to be equipped with the same engines as its Boeing 747s for commonality.[30] Northwest Orient Airlines and Japan Airlines were the only airlines to order the Series 40 with 22 and 20 aircraft, respectively. Engine improvements led to the DC-10-40s delivered to Northwest featuring Pratt & Whitney JT9D-20 engines producing 50,000 lbf (222 kN) of thrust and a MTOW of 555,000 lb (251,815 kg). The -40s for Japan Airlines were equipped with P&W JT9D-59A engines that produced a thrust of 53,000 lbf (235.8 kN) and a MTOW of 565,000 lb (256,350 kg).[23] 42 were built from 1973 to 1983.[31] Externally, the DC-10-40 can be distinguished from the -30 series by a slight bulge near the front of the nacelle for the #2 (tail) engine.
A proposed version with Rolls-Royce RB211-524 engines for British Airways. The order never came and the plans for the DC-10-50 were abandoned.[32]
DC-10 "Twin"
A proposed downsized DC-10 version with two CF-6 engines, likely designed to compete against the Airbus A300.

Tanker versions

A USAF KC-10 Extender during refueling

The KC-10 Extender is a military version of the DC-10-30CF for aerial refueling. The aircraft was ordered by the U.S. Air Force and delivered from 1981 to 1988. A total of 60 were built.[33]

The KDC-10 is an aerial refueling tanker for the Royal Netherlands Air Force. These were converted from civil airliners (DC-10-30CF) to a similar standard as the KC-10. Also, commercial refueling companies Omega Aerial Refueling Services and Global Airtanker Service operate two KDC-10 tankers for lease. Four have been built.[34][35]

The DC-10 Air Tanker during a water drop demonstration

The DC-10 Air Tanker is a DC-10-based firefighting tanker aircraft, using modified water tanks from Erickson Air-Crane.

MD-10 upgrade

The MD-10 is retrofit cockpit upgrade to the DC-10 and a re-designation to MD-10. The upgrade included an Advanced Common Flightdeck (ACF) used on the MD-11 and was launched in 1996.[36] The new cockpit eliminated the need for the flight engineer position and allowed common type rating with the MD-11. This allows companies such as FedEx Express, which operate both the MD-10 and MD-11, to have a common pilot pool for both aircraft. The MD-10 conversion now falls under the Boeing Converted Freighter program where Boeing's international affiliate companies perform the conversions.[37]


Orbis DC-10 Flying Eye Hospital, 2009

In July 2015, there were 56 DC-10s and MD-10s in airline service with operators FedEx Express (50), Kelowna Flightcraft Air Charter (2), and others with fewer aircraft.[38] The aging models are now largely used as dedicated freight aircraft. "The DC-10 is going to be remembered as a better cargo plane than passenger plane," said Richard Aboulafia, an analyst with the Teal Group.[39]

On January 8, 2007, Northwest Airlines retired its last remaining DC-10 from scheduled passenger service,[40] thus ending the aircraft's operations with major airlines. Regarding the retirement of Northwest's DC-10 fleet, Wade Blaufuss, spokesman for the Northwest chapter of the Air Line Pilots Association said, "The DC-10 is a reliable airplane, fun to fly, roomy and quiet, kind of like flying an old Cadillac Fleetwood. We're sad to see an old friend go."[39] Biman Bangladesh Airlines was the last commercial carrier to operate the DC-10 in passenger service.[41][42][43] The airline flew the DC-10 on a regular passenger flight for the last time on February 20, 2014, from Dhaka, Bangladesh to Birmingham, UK.[42][44] Local charter flights were flown in the UK until February 24, 2014.[45]

Non-airline operators include the Royal Netherlands Air Force with three DC-10-30CF-based KDC-10 tanker aircraft, the USAF with its 59 KC-10s, and the 10 Tanker Air Carrier with its modified DC-10-10 used for fighting wildfires.[46] Orbis International has used a DC-10 as a flying eye hospital. Surgery is performed on the ground and the operating room is located between the wings for maximum stability. In 2008, Orbis chose to replace its aging DC-10-10 with a DC-10-30 jointly donated by FedEx and United Airlines.[47][48] The newer DC-10 was to be converted into MD-10 configuration, and begin flying as an eye hospital in 2010.[48][49][50] One former American Airlines DC-10-10 is operated by the Missile Defense Agency as the Widebody Airborne Sensor Platform (WASP).[51]

Incidents and accidents

As of September 2015, the DC-10 has been involved in 55 accidents and incidents,[52] including 32 hull-loss accidents,[53] with 1,261 occupant fatalities.[54] Of these accidents and incidents, it has been involved in 9 hijackings resulting in 1 death and a bombing resulting in 170 occupant fatalities.[54] Despite its troubled beginnings in the 1970s, which gave it an unfavorable reputation,[55] the DC-10 has proved to be a reliable aircraft with an overall low accident rate as of 1998.[56] The DC-10's initially poor safety record has continuously improved as design flaws were rectified and fleet hours increased.[56] The DC-10's lifetime safety record is comparable to similar second-generation passenger jets as of 2008.[57]

Cargo door problem

The DC-10 was designed with cargo doors that opened outward instead of conventional inward-opening "plug-type" doors. Using outward-opening doors allowed the DC-10's cargo area to be completely filled since the door was not occupying usable space. To secure the door against the outward force from the pressurization of the fuselage at high altitudes, outward-opening doors must use heavy locking mechanisms. In the event of a door lock malfunction, there is great potential for explosive decompression.[58]

American Airlines Flight 96

A problem with the outward-opening cargo door first became publicly known on June 12, 1972, when American Airlines Flight 96 lost its aft cargo door shortly after takeoff from Detroit Metro Airport. Before Flight 96 took off, an airport employee had forced the door shut, which, due to the cargo door's design, gave an outward appearance of being securely locked despite the internal locking mechanism not being fully engaged. Subsequently, when the aircraft reached approximately 11,750 feet (3,580 m) in altitude, the rear cargo door blew out, causing an explosive decompression that partially collapsed the cabin floor above the door. This collapsed section of the floor cut or impeded many of the control cables to the empennage control systems necessary to fly the aircraft.[59][60] The crew was able to accomplish an emergency landing by using the ailerons, right elevator, some limited rudder trim and asymmetrical thrust of the wing engines.[61]

During the investigation of the near-crash of Flight 96, U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigators found that the DC-10's cargo door design was dangerously flawed. The door relied on a set of heavy steel hooks to secure it against the door frame. When the hooks were fully engaged, an outside lever on the cargo door could be depressed to drive a set of locking pins through the hooks to hold them in place. The NTSB investigation found that it was possible to close the outside lever without the hooks being fully engaged, and there would be no outward signs that the locking mechanism was not engaged; the cargo door indicator in the cockpit would still register the door as being secured without hooks and locking pins being in the closed position. This combination of factors caused Flight 96 to take off without its aft cargo door being fully locked. When the door blew out at altitude, the sudden decompression created a large pressure differential between the cabin above and the cargo bay below, causing the cabin floor to collapse.[62] The collapse of the cabin floor severely damaged some of the vital flight control wires and hydraulic lines routed through the floor beams, which left the pilots with very limited control of the aircraft.[59]

Following the Windsor accident investigation, the NTSB made several recommendations, including repairing the faulty cargo door design to make it impossible for baggage handlers to close the cargo door lever without the locking pins being fully engaged. It was also recommended that vents be installed in the cabin floor so that, in case of an explosive decompression, the pressure difference between the cabin and cargo bay could quickly be equalized without collapsing the cabin floor and damaging critical control systems.[62] Although many carriers voluntarily modified the cargo doors, no airworthiness directive was issued to require reworking of the locking system, due to a gentlemen's agreement between the head of the FAA, John H. Shaffer, and McDonnell Douglas, Jackson McGowen. McDonnell Douglas did make modifications to the cargo door, but the basic design remained unchanged and problems persisted.[62]

Turkish Airlines Flight 981

On March 3, 1974, an almost identical cargo door blow-out caused Turkish Airlines Flight 981 to crash into a forest near the town of Ermenonville, France shortly after leaving Paris.[62] All 346 people were killed[63] in one of the deadliest air crashes of all time.[64] Circumstances of this crash were very similar to the previous accident. The cargo door had not been fully locked, though it appeared so to both cockpit crew and ground personnel. The Turkish aircraft had a different seating configuration that exacerbated the effects of decompression, which caused the aircraft's floor to collapse into the cargo bay. Control cables running below the floor of the aircraft were severed when the floor collapsed and this rendered it uncontrollable.[62] Crash investigators found that the DC-10's relief vents were not large enough to equalize the pressure between the passenger and cargo compartments during explosive decompression.[63] Following this crash, a special subcommittee of the House of Representatives investigated the cargo door issue and the FAA's certification of the original design.[65] An airworthiness directive was issued, and all DC-10s underwent mandatory door modifications.[65] The DC-10 experienced no more major incidents related to its cargo door after FAA-approved changes were made.[62]

American Airlines Flight 191

The DC-10 experienced another major accident with the crash of American Airlines Flight 191 on May 25, 1979. The number one (left wing) engine of Flight 191 broke off after taking off from O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, US.[66] As the engine separated upwards, it ripped through the leading edge of the wing, rupturing hydraulic lines. Without hydraulic pressure, the left wing leading edge slats retracted due to the force of the air moving over the wings. That, in turn, increased the stall speed of the left wing above the engine failure climb out speed being used by the pilots. When the left wing stalled, the aircraft rapidly rolled to the left and crashed before the flight crew could recover. All 271 people on board, plus two on the ground, were killed.[67]

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) officials discovered that a maintenance procedure was the cause. American Airlines mechanics removed the engine and its pylon together, rather than removing the engine from the pylon then the pylon from the wing, as recommended by McDonnell Douglas. This was done using a forklift and the pylon was inadvertently cracked in the process. The short-cut procedure, believed to save many man hours on maintenance, was used by three major airlines, although McDonnell Douglas advised against it.[68] In November 1979, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) fined American Airlines $500,000 for using this faulty maintenance procedure. Continental Airlines was fined $100,000 on a similar charge.[68][69]

The Chicago accident also highlighted a major deficiency in the DC-10 design: its lack of a locking mechanism to maintain the position of the leading-edge slats in the event of a hydraulic or pneumatic failure.[68] Other wide-body aircraft of the day carried such a feature. When the engine pulled up and over the wing, it tore out electrical wiring in the wing, thus rendering vital warning instruments in the cockpit inoperable. Following the Chicago crash, the FAA withdrew the DC-10's type certificate on June 6, 1979, which grounded U.S. DC-10s. It also banned all DC-10s from U.S. airspace. These measures were rescinded on July 13 after modifications were made to the slat actuation and position systems, along with stall warning and power supply changes.[68][70]

United Airlines Flight 232

Another major DC-10 crash was the United Airlines Flight 232 crash at Sioux City, Iowa, on July 19, 1989. The number two (tail) engine suffered an uncontained fan disk failure in flight, which damaged all three hydraulic systems and rendered the hydraulic flight controls inoperable. The flight crew, led by Captain Al Haynes and assisted by a senior pilot flying as a passenger (Dennis E. "Denny" Fitch), performed an emergency landing by constantly adjusting the thrust of the remaining two engines. The crew managed to fly the aircraft onto the runway in a partially controlled manner, and 185 of the 296 people on board survived in spite of the destruction of the aircraft during the crash-landing.[71]

The DC-10 included no cable backup for the hydraulic powered flight controls because it was considered nearly impossible for three hydraulic systems to fail during one flight, and furthermore the control surfaces are too large to be moved without hydraulic assistance. However, all three hydraulic systems were in close proximity, directly beneath the tail engine. The #2 engine explosion hurled fragments that ruptured all three lines, resulting in total loss of control to the elevators, ailerons, spoilers, horizontal stabilizer, rudder, flaps and slats.[71]

Following the UAL 232 accident, hydraulic fuses were installed in the #3 hydraulic system in the area below the #2 engine on all DC-10 aircraft to ensure that sufficient control capability remained if all three hydraulic system lines should be damaged in the tail area. It is still possible to lose all three hydraulic systems elsewhere. This nearly occurred to a cargo airliner in 2002 during takeoff, when a main gear tire exploded in the wheel well. The damage in the left wing area caused total loss of pressure in the #1 and the #2 hydraulic systems. The #3 system was dented but not penetrated.[72]

Other notable accidents and incidents

Other notable incidents and accidents are:

  • November 3, 1973 - National Airlines Flight 27, a DC-10-10 cruising at 39,000 feet, experienced an uncontained failure of the right (#3) engine. One cabin window separated from the fuselage after it was struck by debris flung from the exploding engine. The passenger sitting next to that window was forced through the opening and ejected from the aircraft. The crew initiated an emergency descent, and landed the aircraft safely.
  • November 12, 1975 - An ONA DC-10 on a ferry flight struck a heavy flock of seagulls while on its take-off roll from Kennedy International Airport, New York. The captain aborted below V1 speed, but the #3 engine exploded, causing a partial braking failure. The landing gear collapsed and fire eventually destroyed the plane. All 139 ONA employees on board survived. Two were seriously injured, while 30 others had minor injuries.[73]
  • January 2, 1976 - An ONA DC-10 experienced an undershoot on the short runway in Istanbul, Turkey. The aircraft touched the ground and crash-landed then a fire in the #1 engine started. The aircraft was destroyed. All passengers survived.[74]
  • October 31, 1979 - Western Airlines Flight 2605, a DC-10-10, collided with construction equipment after landing on a closed runway at Mexico City International Airport, killing 72 of the 88 people on board and one person on the ground.
  • November 11, 1979 - an Aeromexico DC-10 entered a sustained stall while climbing through 29,800 ft, to its assigned cruise altitude of 31,000 ft, over Luxembourg, Europe. The flight crew failed to monitor their flight instruments, so they did not immediately recognize the plane was in a stalled condition. Instead, they blamed the heavy buffeting on the #3 engine, which they shut down, while continuing to hold the nose up. The plane continued to descend for one minute in a fully stalled condition, until the pilots lowered the nose and began a proper stall recovery procedure, which was completed at 18,900 ft. The #3 engine was then restarted, the declaration of emergency canceled and the flight continued to Miami, Florida. Ground inspection revealed four feet missing from each of the outboard elevator tips, including the balance weights. The NTSB concluded the sustained stall buffeting produced a dynamic structural overload on the elevator, which resulted in the failure of the elevator tips and balance weights. Further, the NTSB concluded the autopilot had improperly been placed in vertical speed mode. That forced the AP to keep increasing the angle of attack, to maintain the preselected vertical speed number, because maximum available engine thrust declined (normally) with increasing altitude. That in turn, caused the airspeed to fall below the stall speed of the aircraft.[75]
  • November 28, 1979 - Air New Zealand Flight 901, DC-10-30 ZK-NZP, crashed into Mount Erebus on Ross Island, Antarctica during a sightseeing flight over the continent, killing all 257 on board. The accident was caused by the flight coordinates being altered without the flight crew's knowledge, combined with unique Antarctic weather conditions.[76]
  • January 12, 1981 - Garuda Indonesia DC-10-30 PK-GIB overran the runway on landing at Hasanuddin Airport, Ujung Pandang, Sulawesi, Indonesia and was substantially damaged.[77]
  • January 23, 1982 - World Airways Flight 30, DC-10-30CF registration N113WA, overran the runway at Boston Logan International Airport. All 12 crew survived, but two of the 200 passengers were never found.[78]
  • September 13, 1982 – Spantax Flight 995, DC-10-30CF EC-DEG, was destroyed by fire after an aborted take-off at Málaga, Spain. A total of 50 passengers were killed and 110 injured due to the flames.
  • December 23, 1983 – Korean Air Cargo Flight 084, DC-10-30CF HL7339, was destroyed after colliding head-on with a Piper PA-31 Navajo while taxiing at Anchorage, Alaska. All on board both aircraft survived.
  • July 27, 1989 – Korean Air Flight 803, DC-10-30 HL7328, crashed short of the runway in bad weather while trying to land at Tripoli, Libya. A total of 75 of the 199 on board plus another 4 people on the ground were killed in the accident.[79]
  • September 19, 1989 – UTA Flight 772, DC-10-30 N54629, crashed in the Ténéré Desert in Niger following an in-flight bomb explosion, claiming the lives of all 170 on board.
  • December 21, 1992 – Martinair Flight 495, DC-10-30CF PH-MBN, crashed while landing in bad weather at Faro, Portugal killing 56 passengers.
  • April 7, 1994 - FedEx Flight 705, DC-10-30 N306FE, experienced an attempted hijacking. FedEx employee Auburn Calloway tried to hijack the aircraft with the intention of crashing it, but the crew fought him off and returned to Memphis. The co-pilot used a number of acrobatic maneuvers to assist his colleagues in fighting off Calloway, such as putting the DC-10 into a steep dive and flying inverted.
  • June 13, 1996 – Garuda Indonesia Flight 865, DC-10-30 PK-GIE, had just taken off from Fukuoka Airport, Japan when a high-pressure blade from engine #3 separated. The aircraft was just a few feet above the runway and the pilot decided to abort the take-off. Consequently, the DC-10 skidded off the runway and came to a halt 1,600 ft (490 m) past it, losing one of its engines and its landing gear.

The Air France Concorde crash of 2000 was attributed to a metal fragment that fell from the thrust reverser of a Continental Airlines DC-10 that had taken off four minutes earlier. This fragment was traced to third-party replacement parts not approved by the Federal Aviation Administration.[80]

Numerous DC-10s have also been damaged or written off by overrunning the runway or environmental hazards.

Aircraft on display


Cabin of a Biman Bangladesh Airlines DC-10-30, 2006
Cabin of DC-10-30F
Schematic of the McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30. Side, top, front, cross-section
DC-10-10 DC-10-15 DC-10-30 DC-10-40
Cockpit crew Three
Passengers 380 (1-class, maximum)[83]
285 (2-class)
255 (3-class)
Cargo (freighter variant) 22 LD7 pallets 23 LD7 pallets
Fuselage length 170 ft 6 in (51.97 m)
Height 58 ft 1 in (17.7 m)
Wingspan 155 ft 4 in (47.34 m) 165 ft 4 in (50.4 m)
Fuselage width 19 ft 9 in (6.02 m)
Fuselage height 19 ft 9 in (6.02 m)
Max interior width 18 ft 2 in (5.54 m)
Operating empty weight 240,171 lb (108,940 kg) 266,191 lb (120,742 kg) 270,213 lb (122,567 kg)
Maximum take-off weight 430,000 lb
(195,045 kg)
455,000 lb
(206,385 kg)
572,000 lb
(259,459 kg)
555,000 lb
(251,701 kg)
Typical cruise speed Mach 0.82
(564 mph, 908 km/h, 490 kt)
Max cruise speed Mach 0.88
(610 mph, 982 km/h, 530 kt)
Max range, loaded[N 1] 3,800 miles (6,116 km) 4,350 mi (7,000 km) 6,600 mi (10,622 km) 5,750 mi (9,254 km)
Maximum fuel capacity 21,700 U.S. gal
(82,134 L)
26,647 U.S. gal
(100,859 L)
36,650 U.S. gal
(138,720 L)
36,650 U.S. gal
(138,720 L)
Takeoff run on MTOW 8,612 ft (2,625 m) 7,257 ft (2,212 m) 9,341 ft (2,847 m) 9,242 ft (2,817 m)
Service ceiling 42,000 ft (12,802 m)
Engine model (x 3) GE CF6-6D GE CF6-50C2F GE CF6-50C PW JT9D-59A
Engine thrust (x 3) 40,000 lbf (177.9 kN) 46,500 lbf (206.8 kN) 51,000 lbf (226.9 kN) 53,000 lbf (235.8 kN)
Sources: DC-10 manufacturer data,[11][84][85],[86] and Flight International.[87]


1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 Total
13 52 57 48 42 19 14 18 36 40 25 11 12 10 11 17 10 10 1 446

See also

Related development
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
Related lists



  1. ^ 285 passengers and baggage.


  1. ^ a b "DC-10 Family." Boeing Commercial Airplanes. Retrieved: January 4, 2011.
  2. ^ a b "McDonnell Douglas DC-10/KC-10 Transport." Boeing. Retrieved: February 28, 2006.
  3. ^ Waddington 2000, pp. 6–18.
  4. ^ Endres 1998, p. 13.
  5. ^ Endres 1998, p. 16.
  6. ^ "American Orders 25 'Airbus' Jets." St. Petersburg Times, 14 September 2011.
  7. ^ Endres 1998, pp. 25–26.
  8. ^ Endres 1998, p. 28.
  9. ^ Endres 1998, p. 52.
  10. ^ Aviation Daily 29 July 1971
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  • Endres, Günter. McDonnell Douglas DC-10. St. Paul, Minnesota: MBI Publishing Company, 1998. ISBN 0-7603-0617-6.
  • Fielder, J.H. and D. Birsch. The DC-10 Case: A Study in Applied Ethics, Technology, and Society. Albany, New York: SUNY Press, 1992. ISBN 0-7914-1087-0.
  • "Giant Tri-Jets Are Coming". Popular Science, December 1970, pp. 50–52, 116. ISSN 0161-7370.
  • Steffen, Arthur, A. C. McDonnell Douglas DC-10 and KC-10 Extender. Hinckley, Leicester, UK: Aerofax, 1998. ISBN 1-85780-051-6.
  • Waddington, Terry. McDonnell Douglas DC-10. Miami, Florida: World Transport Press, 2000. ISBN 1-892437-04-X.
  • "World Airliner Census". Flight International, Volume 184, Number 5403, 13–19 August 2013, pp. 40–58.

External links

  • DC-10 page on
  • DC-10 history on
  • DC-10 & MD-10 page on
  • web site
  • Early DC-10 concept
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