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MD-80 Family

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Category: Aircraft Family Aircraft Family
Content source: SKYbrary About SKYbrary


The McDonnell Douglas MD-80 series are twin-engine, medium-range, single-aisle commercial jet airliners. The MD-80 aircraft were lengthened and updated from the DC-9. The MD-80 series can seat from 130 up to 172 passengers depending on variant and seating arrangement.

The MD-80 series was introduced into commercial service on October 10, 1980 by Swissair. The MD-80 series was followed into service in modified form by the MD-90 in 1995 and the Boeing 717 in 1999.


Aircraft Family Members
ICAO Type Designator Name Length (m)


Aircraft MD-81 MD-82 MD-83 MD-87 MD-88
Overall Length 45.06 m147.835 ft <br /> 45.06 m147.835 ft <br /> 45.06 m147.835 ft <br /> 39.75 m130.413 ft <br /> 45.06 m147.835 ft <br />
Wing Span 32.78 m107.546 ft <br /> 32.78 m107.546 ft <br /> 32.78 m107.546 ft <br /> 32.87 m107.841 ft <br /> 32.78 m107.546 ft <br />
Engines The initial production version had the PW JT8D-209 (82 kN)
Later build MD-81s had JT8D-217 and -219 engines.
2 x Pratt & Whitney JT8D-217A/C (88,96 kN). 2 x Pratt & Whitney JT8D-219 (93,41 kN). 2 x P&W JT8D-217C (88,96 kN) turbofans. 2 x Pratt & Whitney JT8D-219 (93,41 kN) series.
Passengers (1 class config.) 172 172 172 139 172
Max. Range 1,570 nm2,907,640 m <br />2,907.64 km <br />9,539,501.319 ft <br /> 2,052 nm3,800,304 m <br />3,800.304 km <br />12,468,188.985 ft <br /> 2,504 nm4,637,408 m <br />4,637.408 km <br />15,214,593.187 ft <br /> 2,500 nm4,630,000 m <br />4,630 km <br />15,190,288.725 ft <br /> 2,055 nm3,805,860 m <br />3,805.86 km <br />12,486,417.332 ft <br />
Maximum takeoff weight 63.503 tonnes63,503 kg <br /> 67.812 tonnes67,812 kg <br /> 72.575 tonnes72,575 kg <br /> 67.8 tonnes67,800 kg <br /> 67.815 tonnes67,815 kg <br />

Accidents & Serious Incidents involving MD-80 Family

  • B734 / MD81, en-route, Romford UK, 1996 (On 12 November 1996, a B737-400 descended below its assigned level in one of the holding patterns at London Heathrow in day IMC to within 100 feet vertically and between 680 and 820 metres horizontally of a MD-81 at its correct level, 1000 feet below. STCA prompted ATC to intervene and the 737 climbed back to its cleared level. Neither aircraft was fitted with TCAS 2 or saw the other visually.)
  • MD81, Grenoble France, 2010 (On 5 February 2010, a McDonnell Douglas MD 81 being operated by SAS on a non scheduled passenger flight from Copenhagen to Grenoble carried out a normal ILS approach to runway 09 in dark night VMC conditions, but the touchdown was made with the aircraft at an excessive pitch angle and higher than normal rate of descent and a tail strike occurred. Serious damage was caused to the rear lower fuselage but none of the 131 occupants were injured and a normal taxi-in and disembarkation followed.)
  • MD81, Kiruna Sweden, 1997 (A scheduled passenger flight from Stockholm Arlanda to Kiruna left the runway during the night landing at destination performed in a strong crosswind with normal visibility.)
  • MD81, vicinity Chicago Midway, IL USA, 2008 (On 7 July 2008, a Mc Donnell Douglas MD81 being operated by Midwest Airlines, Inc. had just taken off in day visual flight conditions when increasing pitch could initially not be controlled. Later, control was regained but with “higher than normal” pitch control pressure required to control the aircraft - after en-route diversion the aircraft landed uneventfully.)
  • MD81, vicinity Stockholm Arlanda Sweden, 1991 (On 27 December 1991, an MD-81 took off after airframe ground de/anti icing treatment but soon afterwards both engines began surging and both then failed. A successful crash landing with no fatalities was achieved four minutes after take off after the aircraft emerged from cloud approximately 900 feet above terrain. There was no post-crash fire. The Investigation found that undetected clear ice on the upper wing surfaces had been ingested into both engines during rotation and initiated engine surging. Without awareness of the aircraft's automated thrust increase system, the pilot response did not control the surging and both engines failed.)
  • MD82 / A319, vicinity Helsinki Finland, 2007 (On 5 September 2007 in day VMC, an MD82 being operated by SAS was obliged to carry out an own-initiative avoiding action orbit in day VMC against an Airbus A319 being operated by Finnair on a scheduled passenger after conflict when about to join final approach. Both aircraft were following ATC instructions which, in the case of the MD 82, had not included maintaining own separation so that the applicable separation minima were significantly breached.)
  • MD82 / C441, Lambert-St Louis MI USA, 1994 (On 22 November 1994 a McDonnell Douglas MD 82 flight crew taking off from Lambert- St. Louis at night in excellent visibility suddenly became aware of a stationary Cessna 441 on the runway ahead and was unable to avoid a high speed collision. The collision destroyed the Cessna but allowed the MD82 to be brought to a controlled stop without occupant injury. The Investigation found that the Cessna 441 pilot had mistakenly believed his departure would be from the runway he had recently landed on and had entered that runway without clearance whilst still on GND frequency.)
  • MD82 / MD11, Anchorage AK USA, 2002 (On 17 March 2002, at Ted Stevens Anchorage Airport, a McDonnell Douglas MD82 operated by Alaska Airlines, on a night pushback in snow conditions collided with an inbound taxiing McDonnell Douglas MD-11. The MD82 suffered substantial rudder damage although the impacting MD11 winglet was undamaged.)
  • MD82, Copenhagen Denmark, 2013 (On 30 January 2013, the crew of a Boeing MD82 successfully rejected its take off at Copenhagen after sudden explosive failure of the left hand JT8D engine occurred during the final stage of setting take off thrust. Full directional control of the aircraft was retained and the failure was contained, but considerable engine debris was deposited on the runway. The subsequent Investigation concluded that a massive failure within the low pressure turbine had been initiated by the fatigue failure of one blade, the reason for which could not be established.)
  • MD82, Detroit MI USA, 1987 (On 16 August 1987, an MD-82 being operated by Northwest Airlines on a scheduled passenger flight from Detroit MI to Phoenix AZ failed to get properly airborne in day VMC and, after damaging impact with obstacles within the airport perimeter after climbing to a maximum height of just under 40 ft, impacted the ground causing the destruction of the aircraft by impact forces and a subsequent fire. All but one of the 157 occupants were killed with the single survivor suffering serious injury. On the ground, 2 people were killed, 2 more seriously injured and 4 more suffered minor injury with several buildings vehicles and structures damaged or destroyed.)
  • MD82, Little Rock USA, 1999 (On 1 June 1999, an MD82 belonging to American Airlines, overran the end of the runway during landing. The captain and 10 passengers were killed.)
  • MD82, Madrid Barajas Spain, 2008 (On 20 August 2008, an MD82 aircraft operated by Spanair took off from Madrid Barajas Airport with flaps and slats retracted; the incorrect configuration resulted in loss of control, collision with the ground, and the destruction of the aircraft.)
  • MD82, Phuket Thailand, 2007 (On 16 September 2007, an MD-82 being operated by One Two Go Airlines attempted a missed approach from close to the runway at Phuket but after the flight crew failed to ensure that the necessary engine thrust was applied, the aircraft failed to establish a climb and after control was lost, the aircraft impacted the ground within the airport perimeter and was destroyed by the impact and a subsequent fire. Ninety of the 130 occupants were killed, 26 suffered serious injuries and 14 suffered minor injuries.)
  • MD82, Tarbes France, 2018 (On 16 January 2018, a McDonnell Douglas MD-82 attempting to land at Tarbes was subject to gross mishandling by the crew and the approach became unstable. A subsequent low level go-around attempt was then made without setting sufficient thrust which resulted in sustained and close proximity to terrain at an airspeed close to stall entry before the required thrust was eventually applied. The Investigation was hindered by non-reporting of the event but was able to conclude that multiple pilot errors in a context of poor crew coordination during the approach had caused confusion when the go around was initiated.)
  • MD82, en route, west of Wichita KA USA, 2002 (On 4 June 2002, the crew of an MD82 in the cruise at FL330 with AP and A/T engaged failed to notice progressive loss of airspeed and concurrent increase in pitch attitude as both engines rolled back to thrust levels which could not sustain level flight. The aircraft stalled and a recovery was accomplished with significant altitude necessary before engine thrust was restored and a diversion made. The Investigation attributed the engine rollback to ice crystal icing obstructing the engine inlet pressure sensors following crew failure to use the engine anti-icing as prescribed. Two Safety Recommendations were made.)
  • MD82, en-route, near Machiques Venezuela, 2005 (On 16 August 2005, the flight crew of a West Caribbean MD82 on a passenger flight from Tocumen Airport in Panama to Martinique attempted to cruise at a level which was incompatible with aircraft performance. They then failed to recognise the results of this action and when the lack of sufficient engine thrust led to an aerodynamic stall and confusion precluded a recovery before the aircraft impacted terrain at high speed out of control killing all 152 occupants.)
  • MD82, vicinity Lambert St Louis MO USA, 2007 (On September 28, 2007 the left engine of a McDonnell Douglas MD82 caught fire during the departure climb from Lambert St. Louis and an air turn back was initiated. When the landing gear failed to fully extend, a go around was made to allow time for an emergency gear extension to be accomplished after which a successful landing and emergency evacuation from the fire-damaged aircraft followed. The Investigation concluded that the engine fire was directly consequential on an unapproved maintenance practice and that the fire was prolonged by flight crew interruption of an emergency checklist to perform "non-essential tasks".)
  • MD83 / AT76, Isfahan Iran, 2018 (On 21 January 2018, a McDonnell Douglas MD-83 which had just landed on one of the two parallel runways at Isfahan, entered the roll out end of the other one and began taxiing on it in the opposite direction to an ATR72-600 which was about to touch down at the other end of the same runway. The Investigation found that the MD83 had failed to follow its taxi clearance but also that the TWR controller involved had failed to instruct the conflicting ATR-72 to go around, a requirement that was not optional despite the 4397 metre runway length.)
  • MD83, Are/Ostersund Sweden, 2007 (On 9 September 2007, an MD83 being operated by Austrian Company MAP Jet, which was over the permitted weight for the runway and conditions, made a night take off from Are/Ostersund airport, Sweden, very near the end of the runway and collided with the approach lights for the opposite runway before climbing away.)
  • MD83, Barcelona Spain, 2006 (On 9 January 2006, a Mc Donnell Douglas MD83 being operated by Spanair on a scheduled passenger flight from Bilbao to Barcelona made an unstablised day VMC approach to a dry runway 07R at destination and landed long with apparently locked brakes before coming to a stop 140 metres from the end of the 2660 metre long runway. Following ATC reports of a fire in the area of the left main landing gear, an evacuation was ordered using the right side doors during which five of the 96 occupants received minor injuries. The RFFS arrived at the scene during the evacuation and extinguished the fire. Significant damage occurred to both main landing gear assembles and to both wings and the tail assembly but there was no damage to the primary structure.)
  • MD83, Juba Sudan, 2006 (On 23 June 2006, an AMC Airlines MD83 significantly overran the landing runway at Juba after a late touchdown followed by unexpected and un-commanded asymmetry in ground spoiler deployment and thrust reverser control caused by an unappreciated loss at some point en-route of all fluid from one of the two hydraulic systems. The Investigation concluded that the abnormal hydraulic system status should have been detectable prior to attempting a landing but also that one of the consequences of hydraulic system design should be modified.)
  • MD83, Kandahar Afghanistan, 2012 (On 24 January 2012, a Swiftair Boeing MD83 about to touch down on runway 05 at Kandahar lost alignment with the extended runway centreline when initiating the daylight landing flare for a landing and a corrective roll resulted in the right wing tip striking the ground 20 metres prior to the runway threshold before completing the landing. The Investigation found that the prior approach had been unstable both at the prescribed ‘gate’ and thereafter and should have led to a go around. It was also found that neither the operator nor the crew were authorised to make the GPS approach used.)
  • MD83, Lanzarote Spain, 2007 (On 5 June 2007, a McDonnell Douglas MD83 being flown by Austrian charter operator MAP on a flight from Lanzarote to Barcelona failed to follow a normal trajectory after take off in day VMC and developed violent roll oscillations. As speed increased, this stopped and a return to land was made without further event. Takeoff from Lanzarote had been unintentionally made without the flaps/slats being set to the required position.)
  • MD83, Port Harcourt Nigeria, 2018 (On 20 February 2018, a Boeing MD-83 attempting a night landing at Port Harcourt during a thunderstorm and heavy rain touched down well beyond the touchdown zone and departed the side of the runway near its end before continuing 300 metres beyond it. The Investigation found that a soft touchdown had occurred with 80% of the runway behind the aircraft and a communications failure on short final meant a wind velocity change just before landing leading to a tailwind component of almost 20 knots was unknown to the crew who had not recognised the need for a go around.)
  • MD83, Ypsilanti MI USA, 2017 (On 8 March 2017, a Boeing MD83 departing Ypsilanti could not be rotated and the takeoff had to be rejected from above V1. The high speed overrun which followed substantially damaged the aircraft but evacuation was successful. The Investigation found that the right elevator had been locked in a trailing-edge-down position as a result of damage caused to the aircraft by high winds whilst it was parked unoccupied for two days prior to the takeoff. It was noted that on an aircraft with control tab initiated elevator movement, this condition was undetectable during prevailing pre flight system inspection or checks.)
  • MD83, en route, near Gossi Mali, 2014 (In the early hours of 24 July 2014, a Boeing MD 83 being operated for Air Algérie by Spanish ACMI operator Swiftair crashed in northern Mali whilst en route from Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso to Algiers and in the vicinity of severe convective actvity associated with the ICTZ. Initial findings of the continuing Investigation include that after indications of brief but concurrent instability in the function of both engines, the thrust to both simultaneously reduced to near idle and control of the aircraft was lost. High speed terrain impact followed and the aircraft was destroyed and all 116 occupants killed.)
  • MD83, en-route, Pacific Ocean near Anacapa Island CA USA, 2000 (On 31 January 2000, an Alaskan Airlines MD83, crashed into the sea off the coast of California, USA, following loss of control attributed to failure of the horizontal stabiliser trim system.)
  • MD83, en-route, near Nancy France, 2009 (On 20 December 2009 a Blue Line McDonnell Douglas MD-83 almost stalled at high altitude after the crew attempted to continue climbing beyond the maximum available altitude at the prevailing aircraft weight. The Investigation found that failure to cross check data input to the Performance Management System prior to take off had allowed a gross data entry error made prior to departure - use of the Zero Fuel Weight in place of Gross Weight - to go undetected.)
  • MD83, vicinity Dublin Airport, Ireland, 2007 (On 16 August 2007, during a non-precision approach to RWY34 at Dublin airport, the flight crew of a MD83 misidentified the lights of a 16-storey hotel at Santry Cross as those of the runway approach lighting system. The aircraft deviated to the left of the approach course and descended below the Minimum Descent Altitude (MDA) without proper visual recognition of the runway in use. A go-around was initiated as soon as ATC corrective clearance was issued.)
  • MD83, vicinity Lagos Nigeria, 2012 (On 3 June 2012, the crew of a Boeing MD-83 experienced problems in controlling the thrust from first one engine and then also the other which dramatically reduced the amount of thrust available. Eventually, when a few miles from destination Lagos, it became apparent that it would be impossible to reach the runway and the aircraft crashed in a residential district killing all 153 occupants and 6 people on the ground. The Investigation was unable to conclusively identify the cause of the engine malfunctions but attributed the accident outcome to the crew's failure to make a timely diversion to an alternative airport.)
  • MD83, vicinity Nantes France, 2004 (On 21 March 2004, an MD-83 operated by Luxor Air, performed an unstabilised non-precision approach (NPA) to runway 21 at Nantes Atlantique airport, at night and under IMC conditions, which resulted in near-CFIT and a go around contrary to the standard missed approach procedure.)
  • MD83, vicinity Paris Orly France, 1997 (On 23 November 1997, a McDonald Douglas MD 83 being operated by AOM French Airlines on a scheduled passenger flight from Marseille to Paris Orly made an unintended premature descent almost to terrain impact at 4nm from the destination runway in day IMC before a go around was commenced. A subsequent approach was uneventful and a normal landing ensued. There was no damage to the aircraft or injury to the occupants.)
  • SH33 / MD83, Paris CDG France, 2000 (On the 25th of May, 2000 a UK-operated Shorts SD330 waiting for take-off at Paris CDG in normal visibility at night on a taxiway angled in the take-off direction due to its primary function as an exit for opposite direction landings was given a conditional line up clearance by a controller who had erroneously assumed without checking that it was at the runway threshold. After an aircraft which had just landed had passed, the SD330 began to line up unaware that an MD83 had just been cleared in French to take off from the full length and a collision occurred.)
  • MD87 / C525, Milan Linate, 2001 (On 8th October 2001, an SAS MD-87 taking off as cleared from Milan Linate in thick fog collided at high speed with a German-operated Cessna Citation which had failed to follow its taxi clearance and unknown to ATC had eventually crossed a lit red stop bar and entered the active runway just as the MD-87 was reaching the same point. After the collision, the MD-87 continued along the ground until it impacted, still at high speed, a ground handling building. Both aircraft caught fire and were destroyed. The 114 occupants of both aircraft and 4 ground personnel were killed.)
  • MD88, Groningen Netherlands, 2003 (On 17 June 2003, a crew of a Boeing MD-88, belonging to Onur Air, executed a high speed rejected take-off at a late stage which resulted in overrun of the runway and serious damage to the aircraft.)
  • MD88, New York La Guardia USA, 2015 (On 5 March 2015 a Boeing MD88 veered off a snow-contaminated runway 13 at New York La Guardia soon after touchdown after the experienced flight crew applied excessive reverse thrust and thus compromised directional control due to rudder blanking, a known phenomenon affecting the aircraft type. The aircraft stopped partly outside the airport perimeter with the forward fuselage over water. In addition to identifying the main cause of the accident, the Investigation found that exposure to rudder blanking risks was still widespread. It also noted that the delayed evacuation was partly attributable to inadequate crew performance and related Company procedures.)