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Boeing 717

Boeing 717
A Spanair 717 (2009)
Role Narrow-body jet airliner
National origin United States
Manufacturer Boeing Commercial Airplanes
Designer McDonnell Douglas
First flight September 2, 1998[1][2]
Introduction October 12, 1999 with AirTran Airways[2]
Status In service
Primary users Delta Air Lines
Hawaiian Airlines
Produced 1998–2006
Number built 156
Developed from McDonnell Douglas DC-9

The Boeing 717 is a twin-engine, single-aisle jet airliner, developed for the 100-seat market. The airliner was designed and originally marketed by McDonnell Douglas as the MD-95, a derivative of the DC-9 family. Capable of seating up to a maximum of 134 passengers, the 717 has a design range of 2,060 nautical miles (3,815 km). The aircraft is powered by two Rolls-Royce BR715 turbofan engines located at the rear of the fuselage.

The first order was placed in October 1995 by ValuJet Airlines (later AirTran Airways); McDonnell Douglas and Boeing merged in 1997[1] prior to production. The airliner entered service in 1999 as the Boeing 717. Production ceased in May 2006 after 156 were built.[3]


  • Development 1
    • Background 1.1
    • MD-95 1.2
    • Engines 1.3
    • Production 1.4
    • Rebranding 1.5
    • End of production 1.6
    • Program milestones 1.7
  • Design 2
  • Variants 3
    • Boeing 717 Business Express 3.1
    • Undeveloped variants 3.2
  • Operators 4
  • Incidents 5
  • Specifications 6
  • Orders and deliveries 7
    • Orders 7.1
    • Deliveries 7.2
  • See also 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10



Douglas Aircraft developed the DC-9 to be a short-range companion to their larger four engined DC-8 in the early 1960s.[4] The DC-9 was an all-new design, using two rear fuselage-mounted Pratt & Whitney JT8D turbofan engines, a small, highly efficient wing, and a T-tail.[5] The DC-9 first flew in 1965 and entered airline service later that year.[6] When production ended in 1982 a total of 976 DC-9s had been produced.[5]

The McDonnell Douglas MD-80 series was introduced into airline service in 1980.The design was the second generation of the DC-9. It was a lengthened DC-9-50 with a higher maximum take-off weight (MTOW) and higher fuel capacity, as well as next-generation Pratt and Whitney JT8D-200 series engines.[7] 1,191 MD-80s were delivered from 1980 to 1999.[8]

The MD-90 was developed from the MD-80 series.[9] It was launched in 1989 and first flew in 1993.[10] The MD-90 was longer, and featured a glass cockpit (electronic instrumentation) and more powerful, quieter, fuel efficient IAE V2525-D5 engines, with the option of upgrading that to an IAE V2528 engine.[11] A total of 116 MD-90 airliners were delivered.[8]


The MD-95 traces its history back to 1983 when McDonnell Douglas outlined a study named the DC-9-90. During the early 1980s, as production of the DC-9 family moved away from the smaller Series 30 towards the larger Super 80 (later redesignated MD-80) variants, Douglas proposed a smaller version of the DC-9 to fill the gap left by the DC-9-30. Dubbed the DC-9-90, it was revealed in February 1983 and was to be some 25 ft 4 in (7.72 m) shorter than the DC-9-81, giving it an overall length of 122 ft 6 in (37.34 m). The aircraft was proposed with a 17,000 lbf (76 kN) thrust version of the JT8D-200 series engine, although the CFM56-3 was also considered. Sized to seat up to 117 passengers, the DC-9-90 was to be equipped with the DC-9's wing with 2 ft (0.61 m) tip extensions, rather than the more heavily modified increased area of the MD-80. The aircraft had a design range of around 1,500 nmi (2,800 km), with an option to increase to 2,000 nmi (3,700 km), and a gross weight of 112,000 lb (51,000 kg).[12]

The DC-9-90 was designed to meet the needs of the newly-deregulated American airline industry. However, its development was postponed due to the recession of the early 1980s. When McDonnell Douglas did develop a smaller version of the MD-80, it simply shrunk the aircraft to create the MD-87, rather than offer a lower thrust lighter aircraft that was more comparable to the DC-9-30. With its relatively high MTOW and powerful engines, the MD-87 essentially became a special mission aircraft and could not compete with the all new 100-seaters then being developed. Although an excellent aircraft for specialized roles, the MD-87 often was not sold on its own, tending to rely on its commonality factor, generally limited sales to existing MD-80 operators.[12]

In 1991, McDonnell Douglas revealed that it was again considering developing a specialized 100-seat version of the MD-80, which was initially dubbed the MD-87-105 (105 seats). It was to be some 8 ft (2.4 m) shorter than the MD-87, and would be powered by engines in the 16,000–17,000 lbf (71–76 kN) thrust class.[12] McDonnell Douglas, Pratt & Whitney, and the China National Aero-Technology Import Export Agency signed a memorandum of understanding to develop a 105-seat version of the MD-80. At the 1991 Paris Airshow, McDonnell Douglas announced the development of a 105-seat aircraft, designated MD-95.[12] The new name was selected to reflect the anticipated year deliveries would begin.[13] McDonnell Douglas first offered the MD-95 for sale in 1994.[13][14]

In early 1994, the MD-95 re-emerged as similar to the DC-9-30, its specification in terms of weight, dimensions, and fuel capacity being almost identical. Major changes included a fuselage "shrink" back to 119 ft 4 in (36.37 m) length (same as the DC-9-30), and the reversion to the original DC-9 wing of 93 ft 5 in (28.47 m) span. At the time of the redefinition, McDonnell Douglas said that it expected the MD-95 to become a family of aircraft with the capability of increased range and seating capacity.[12] The MD-95 was developed to satisfy the market need to replace early DC-9s, then approaching 30 years old. The MD-95 was a complete system overhaul, going back to the original DC-9-30 design and applying new engines, cockpit and other more modern systems.[13]

In March 1995, longtime McDonnell Douglas customer Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS) chose the Boeing 737-600 for its 100-seater over the MD-95.[13] In October 1995, United States discount carrier ValuJet signed an order for 50 MD-95s, plus 50 options.[13] McDonnell Douglas president Harry Stonecipher felt that launching MD-95 production on the basis of this single order held little risk, stating that further orders would "take a while longer".[15] The ValuJet order was the only order received for some two years.[16]


As first proposed, the MD-95 was to be powered by a 16,500 lbf (73,000 N) thrust derivative of the JT8D-200 series, and the Rolls-Royce Tay 670 was also considered as an alternative. This was confirmed in January 1992, when Rolls-Royce and McDonnell Douglas signed a memorandum of understanding concerning the Tay-powered MD-95. McDonnell Douglas said that the MD-95 project would cost only a minimal amount to develop, as it was a direct offshoot of the IAE-powered MD-90.[12]

During 1993 McDonnell Douglas seemed to be favoring a life extension program of the DC-9-30, under the program name DC-9X, to continue its presence in the 100-120 seat market, rather than concentrating on the new build MD-95. During its evaluation of the various engines available for the proposed re-engining component of DC-9X, McDonnell Douglas found the BMW Rolls-Royce BR700 engine an ideal candidate. On February 23, 1994, the BR700 engine was selected to power the aircraft.[12]


The Boeing 717 was manufactured at their Long Beach Airport facility

McDonnell Douglas was planning for all MD-95 assembly to be undertaken in China, as an offshoot of the Trunkliner program, for which McDonnell Douglas had been negotiating to have up to 150 MD-90s built in China. The MD-90 Trunkliner deal was finalized in June 1992, but the contract was for a total of 40 aircraft, including 20 MD-80Ts and 20 -90Ts. The MD-80 has been license built in Shanghai since the 1980s. However in early 1993, MDC said that it was considering sites outside China, and was later seeking alternative locations for the assembly line. In 1994, McDonnell Douglas sought global partners to share development costs. It also began a search for a low-cost final assembly site. Halla Group in South Korea was selected to make the wings; Alenia of Italy the entire fuselage; Aerospace Industrial Development Corp. of Taiwan, the tail; ShinMaywa of Japan, the horizontal stabilizer; and a manufacturing division of Korean Air Lines, the nose and cockpit.[12]

In an unprecedented move, McDonnell Douglas announced on November 8, 1994 that final assembly would be taken away from the longtime Douglas plant in Long Beach, California. Instead, it tapped a modifications and maintenance operation, Dalfort Aviation in Dallas, Texas, to assemble the MD-95. In early 1995, management and unions in Long Beach reached an agreement to hold down wage costs for the life of the MD-95 program and McDonnell Douglas canceled the preliminary agreement with Dalfort.[17]


An AirTran Airways 717-200 climbing away in 2006

After McDonnell Douglas merged with Boeing in August 1997,[18] most industry observers expected that Boeing would cancel development of the MD-95. However, Boeing decided to go forward with the design under a new name, Boeing 717. Some believed Boeing had skipped the 717 model designation when the 720 and the 727 followed the 707. The 717 name was the company's model number for the KC-135 Stratotanker. 717 had also been used to promote an early design of the 720 to airlines before it was modified to meet market demands. A Boeing historian notes that the Air Force tanker aircraft had the designation "717-100" and the commercial airliner had the designation "717-200".[19] The lack of a widespread use of the 717 name left it available for rebranding the MD-95.

At first Boeing had no more success selling the 717 than McDonnell Douglas. Even the original order for 50 was no certainty in the chaotic post-deregulation United States airline market. Assembly started on the first 717 in May 1997.[20] The aircraft had its roll out ceremony on June 10, 1998. The 717's first flight took place on September 2, 1998. Following flight testing, the airliner was awarded a type certification on September 1, 1999. Its first delivery was to AirTran Airways in September 1999 and entered commercial service the following month.[1][2][21]

Boeing's decision to go ahead with the 717 slowly began to pay off. Early 717 operators were delighted with the reliability and passenger appeal of the type and decided to order more. The small Australian regional airline Impulse took a long-term lease on five 717s in early 2000[22] to begin an expansion into mainline routes.[23] The ambitious move could not be sustained in competition with the majors, and Impulse sold out to Qantas in May 2001.[24]

Within a few months, the 717's abilities became clear, being faster than the BAe 146, and achieving a higher dispatch reliability, over 99%, than competing aircraft. Maintenance costs are low: according to AirTran Airways, a C check inspection, for example, takes three days and is required once every 4,500 flying hours. (For comparison, its predecessor, the DC-9 needed 21 days for a C check.) The new Rolls-Royce BR715 engine design is relatively easy to maintain. Many 717 operators, such as Qantas, became converts to the plane. Qantas bought more 717s to replace its BAe 146 fleet,[25] and other orders came from Hawaiian Airlines and Midwest Airlines.[26]

A Jetstar Airways 717-200 at Sydney Airport, Australia in 2005

Boeing actively marketed the 717 to a number of large airlines, including Lufthansa and Northwest (who already operated a large fleet of DC-9 aircraft). Boeing also studied a stretched, higher-capacity version of the 717, to have been called 717-300, but decided against proceeding with the new model, fearing that it would encroach on the company's 737-700 model. Production of the original 717 continued. Boeing continued to believe that the 100-passenger market would be lucrative enough to support both the 717 and the 737-600, the smallest of the Next-Generation 737 series. While the aircraft were similar in overall size, the 737-600 was better suited to long-distance routes, while the lighter 717 was more efficient on shorter, regional routes.[27][28]

In 2001, Boeing began implementing a moving assembly line for production of the 717 and 737.[29] The moving line greatly reduced production time, which led to lower production costs.[30][31] Following the slump in airline traffic caused by reaction to the September 11 attacks in the United States, Boeing announced a review of the type's future. After much deliberation, it was decided to continue with production. Despite the lack of orders, Boeing had confidence in the 717's fundamental suitability to the 100-seat market, and in the long-term size of that market.[32] After 19 worldwide 717 sales in 2000, and just 6 in 2001, Boeing took 32 orders for the 717 in 2002, despite the severe industry downturn.[8]

End of production

A Hawaiian Airlines 717 boarding at Kona International Airport, Hawaii for an interisland flight in 2004

Increased competition from regional jets manufactured by Bombardier and Embraer took a heavy toll on sales during the airline slump after 2001. The beginning of the end came in December 2003 when Boeing lost a US$2.7 billion contract from Air Canada, who chose the Embraer E-Jets and Bombardier CRJ200 over the 717.[33] In January 2005, citing slow sales, Boeing announced that it planned to end production of the 717 after it had met all of its outstanding orders.[34]

The 156th and final 717 rolled off the assembly line in April 2006 for AirTran Airways, which was the 717's launch customer as well as its final customer. The final two Boeing 717s were delivered to customers AirTran and Midwest Airlines on May 23, 2006.[2][3] The 717 was the last commercial airplane produced at Boeing's Long Beach facility in Southern California.[3]

Program milestones

  • Announced: 1991-06-16 at the Paris Airshow as MD-95 program by McDonnell Douglas.[35]
  • Approval to offer: 1994-07-22 Douglas got MDC board approval to offer the aircraft.[12][36]
  • First order: 1995-10-19 from ValuJet (later to become AirTran Airways) for 50 firm and 50 options for BR715-powered MD-95s.[2][36]
  • Roll out: 1998-06-10 at Long Beach, California.[2][37]
  • First flight: 1998-09-02.[1][2]
  • FAA certification: 1999-09-01.[38]
  • EASA (JAA) certification: 1999-09-16.[39]
  • Entry into service: 1999-10-12 with AirTran Airways on Atlanta-Washington DC route.[2][21]
  • 100th aircraft delivery: 2002-06-18 to AirTran Airways.[40][41][42]
  • Last delivery: 2006-05-23 to AirTran Airways.[2][43]


An AirTran Airways 717-200 flight deck, 2006

The 717 features a two-crew cockpit that incorporates six interchangeable liquid-crystal-display units and advanced Honeywell VIA 2000 computers. The cockpit design is called Advanced Common Flightdeck (ACF) and is shared with the MD-10 and MD-11. Flight deck features include an Electronic Instrument System, a dual Flight Management System, a Central Fault Display System, and Global Positioning System. Category IIIb automatic landing capability for bad-weather operations and Future Air Navigation Systems are available. The 717 shares the same type rating as the DC-9 such that FAA approved transition courses for DC-9 and analog MD-80 pilots can be completed in 11 days.[44]

In conjunction with Parker Hannifin, MPC Products of Skokie, Illinois designed a fly-by-wire technology mechanical control suite for the 717 flight deck. The modules replaced much cumbersome rigging that had occurred in previous DC-9/MD-80 aircraft. The Rolls-Royce BR715 engines are completely controlled by an electronic engine system (FADEC — Full Authority Digital Engine Control) developed by BAE Systems, offering improved controllability and optimization.[44]

Like its DC-9/MD-80/MD-90 predecessors, the 717 has a 2+3 seating arrangement in coach, providing only one middle seat per row, whereas other single-aisle twin jets, such as the Boeing 737 family and the Airbus A320 family, often have 3+3 arrangement with two middle seats per row.[45][46] Unlike its predecessors, McDonnell Douglas decided not to offer the MD-95/717 with the boarding flexibility of aft airstairs, with the goal of maximizing fuel efficiency through the reduction and simplification of as much auxiliary equipment as possible.[47]


Three initial variants were proposed by McDonnell Douglas in 1993:[12]

  • MD-95-30: Baseline aircraft with 100 seats.
  • MD-95-30ER: extended range (with additional fuel), and
  • MD-95-50: a slightly larger with standard capacity for 122 passengers.

Boeing 717 Business Express

Boeing 717 Business Express was a proposed corporate version of 717-200, unveiled at the EBACE Convention in Geneva, Switzerland in May 2003. Configurable for 40 to 80 passengers in first and/or business class interior (typically, 60 passengers with seat pitch of 52 inch, 132 cm). Maximum range in HGW configuration with auxiliary fuel and 60 passengers was 3,140 nmi (5,815 km; 3,613 mi). The version complements BBJ family.[48]

Undeveloped variants

Boeing 717-100 (-100X): Proposed 86-seat version, formerly MD-95-20; four frames (6 ft 3 in, 1.9 m) shorter. Renamed -100X; wind tunnel tests began in early 2000; revised mid-2000 to eight-frame (12 ft 8 in, 3.86 m) shrink. Launch decision was deferred in December 2000 and again thereafter to an undisclosed date. Shelved by mid-2003.[27]

Boeing 717-100X Lite: Proposed 75-seat version, powered by Rolls-Royce Deutschland BR 710 turbofans; later abandoned.[27]

Boeing 717-300X: Proposed stretched version, formerly MD-95-50; studies suggest typical two-class seating for 130 passengers, with overall length increased to 138 ft 4 in (42.16 m) by addition of nine frames (five forward and four aft of wing); higher MTOW and space-limited payloads weights; additional service door aft of wing; and 21,000 lb (93.4 kN) BR 715C1-30 engines. AirTran expressed interest in converting some -200 options to this model. Was under consideration late 2003 by Star Alliance Group (Air Canada, Austrian Airlines, Lufthansa and SAS); interest was reported from Delta, Iberia and Northwest Airlines.[27][28]


Delta Air Lines is the largest operator of the Boeing 717

As of July 2015, there were 155 Boeing 717-200s in service with Delta Air Lines (88), Volotea (19), Hawaiian Airlines (18), QantasLink (18), Turkmenistan Airlines (7), and Blue1 (5).[49]

Delta Air Lines began leasing AirTran Airways' entire 717 fleet of 88 aircraft in 2013.[50] In 2015, Blue1 announced it will sell their 717 fleet to Delta Air Lines and Volotea.[51]


As of September 2015, the Boeing 717 had been involved in five aviation occurrences[52] with no hull-loss accidents and no fatalities.[53] The accidents and incidents included one on-ground collision while taxiing, an emergency landing where the front landing gear did not extend, and one attempted hijacking.[52]


Comparison of Boeing 717, McDonnell Douglas DC-9 and different McDonnell Douglas MD-80
Basic Gross Weight
High Gross Weight
Cockpit crew Two
Seating capacity 134 (1-class, maximum)[54]
117 (1-class, typical)
106 (2-class, typical)
Seat pitch 32 in (81 cm) (1-class, typical)
36 in (91 cm) and 32 in (81 cm) (2-class, typical)
Length 124 ft 0 in (37.8 m)
Wingspan 93 ft 5 in (28.47 m)
Tail height 29 ft 1 in (8.92 m)
Cabin width, external 131.6 in (334.2 cm)
Cabin width, internal 123.8 in (314.5 cm)
Empty Weight, typical 67,500 lb (30,617 kg) 68,500 lb (31,071 kg)
Max. takeoff weight 110,000 lb (49,900 kg) 121,000 lb (54,900 kg)
Cargo capacity 935 ft³  (26.5 m³) 730 ft³  (20.7 m³)
Ceiling 37,100 feet (11,300 m) maximum altitude
34,100 feet (10,400 m) typical altitude
Cruising speed, typical Mach 0.77 (504 mph, 438 knots, 811 km/h)
at altitude of 34,100 feet (10,400 m)
Range, maximum 1,430 nmi (2,645 km) 2,060 nmi (3,815 km)
Fuel capacity 3,673 US gal  (13,903 L) 4,403 US gal  (16,665 L)
Powerplants (2x) Rolls Royce BR715-A1-30 Rolls Royce BR715-C1-30
Engine thrust (2x) 18,500 lbf (82.3 kN) 21,000 lbf (93.4 kN)

Sources: Boeing 717 Characteristics[55] 717 Airport planning report[47] Boeing 717 Specifications[56]

Orders and deliveries

QantasLink Boeing 717-200 landing at Perth Airport


 Total   2004   2003   2002   2001   2000   1999   1998   1997   1996   1995 
155 8 8 32 3 21 0 41 0 0 42


 2006   2005   2004   2003   2002   2001   2000   1999   1998   1997 
5 13 12 12 20 49 32 12 0 0

Sources: Boeing Orders & Deliveries[57]

See also

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


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  23. ^ Boeing (January 9, 2001). "Impulse Airlines Boeing 717-200 Cockatoo Takes Off For Home" (Press release). Retrieved 2015-07-08. 
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  29. ^ Boeing 2001 Annual report
  30. ^ 717 innovations live on long after production. Boeing
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  33. ^ "Air Canada buying 90 jets from Bombardier, Embraer".  
  34. ^ "Boeing to Recognize Charges for USAF 767 Tanker Costs and Conclusion of 717 Production" (Press release).  
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  36. ^ a b Flight International April 1, 1998 - Page 31 "Classic takes shape"
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  38. ^ FAA Type Certificate Data Sheets A6WE
  39. ^ EASA Type Certificate Data Sheets IM.A.211
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  46. ^ "Superior Passenger Seating Comfort 717-200" (PDF). Boeing. Archived from the original (PDF) on November 22, 2001. Retrieved July 13, 2015. 
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  48. ^ "Boeing Introduces 717 Business Express at EBACE 2003". Boeing, May 7, 2003.
  49. ^ "Aircraft and Fleet Lists". ch-aviation. 
  50. ^ "Delta to Add Boeing 717 Aircraft to its Fleet". 
  51. ^ "Finland's Blue to offload B717 fleet to Volotea, Delta". ch-aviation. 
  52. ^ a b "Boeing 717 incidents"., September 28, 2015.
  53. ^ "Boeing 717 summary"., September 28, 2015.
  54. ^ Type Certificate Data Sheet, FAA
  55. ^ 717-200 Technical Characteristics
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  57. ^
  • Becher, Thomas. Douglas Twinjets, DC-9, MD-80, MD-90 and Boeing 717. The Crowood Press, 2002. ISBN 1-86126-446-1.

External links

  • Boeing 717 profile on
  • 717 List on
  • Boeing Historical Snapshot 717/MD-95

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