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The McDonnell Douglas MD-90 was a twin-engine, medium-range, single-aisle commercial jet aircraft. The MD-90 was developed from the MD-80 series. The main differences being the change to more fuel efficient International Aero Engines V2500 engines and longer fuselage. The MD-90 has a seating capacity up to 172 passengers and was introduced into service with Delta Air Lines in 1995.

The MD-80 series was derived from the DC-9 and it was introduced commercially in October 1980. The MD-80 series was followed in modified form by the MD-90 in 1989 and the MD-95/Boeing 717 in 1998.

Design and development[]


The Douglas Aircraft Company developed the DC-9 in the 1960s as a short-range companion to their larger DC-8.[1] 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, and holds 80 to 135 passengers depending on seating arrangement and aircraft version.

The MD-80 series was the second generation of the DC-9. It was originally called the DC-9-80 series and the DC-9 Super 80[2] and entered service in 1980. The MD-80 series was then developed into the MD-90 entering service in 1995. The last variant of the family was the MD-95, which was renamed the Boeing 717-200 after McDonnell Douglas's merger with Boeing in 1997.


The MD-90 was a mid-size, medium-range airliner that was developed from the MD-80 series. It is a 5 feet longer, updated version of the MD-88 with a similar electronic flight instrument system (EFIS), and even more powerful, quieter and fuel efficient IAE V2500 engines. The MD-90 features seating for 153 to 172 passengers depending on seating arrangement.

The MD-90 program was launched in 1989, first flew in 1993 and entered service in 1995. The MD-90 came in two versions: -30 and -30ER. The -30 had a range of 2,400 miles (3,860 km). The -30ER had a higher gross weight and range up to 2,750 miles (4,426 km) with an auxiliary fuel tank. An even longer range version, the -50 was offered but was not ordered.[3]

The 29 MD-90s delivered to Saudi Airlines feature a full glass cockpit with avionics similar to the Boeing 717's cockpit and an overhead panel similar to the MD-11's for easy transition for the pilots within Saudi Airlines.[4][5][6]

No MD-90 orders were taken after Boeing and McDonnell Douglas merged in 1997 due to internal competition with Boeing's 737.[7] 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.[8][7] A total of 20 MD-90s were to be assembled under contract in China under the Trunkliner program,[9][10] but Boeing's decision to phase out the MD-90 meant only two were built by Shanghai Aircraft.[11]

MD-90 production ended in 2000 with the last airplane being delivered to Saudi Arabian Airlines.[7] The MD-90 is the least successful member of the DC-9 family with 116 airplanes sold.[12] The main competitors of the MD-90 included the Airbus A320 and the Boeing 737-800.

The MD-90 was retired by it's last operator Delta Air Lines on June 2 2020


MD-90 major customers include Delta Air Lines, Saudi Arabian Airlines and Japan Air System (JAS).[13]

In August 2008, a total of 110 MD-90 aircraft were in airline service, including:[14]

  • Saudi Arabian Airlines (29)
  • Delta Airlines (16)
  • Japan Airlines (16)
  • China Southern (13)
  • Uni Air (11)
  • China Eastern (9)
  • Hello Airlines (6)
  • Blue1 (5)
  • Lion Air (5)


Stretched variant with updated glass cockpit and two V2500 engines.
Extended Range (ER) version of MD-90-30.
Baisicly an MD-90-30, but built by Shanghi Aviation(only 2 ever made).

Incidents and accidents[]

An MD-90 was involved in one hull-loss accident,[15] with one fatality.[16]


MD-90-30 MD-90-30ER
Passengers 153 (2 class)
172 (1 class)
Max Take-off Weight 156,000 lb
(70,760 kg)
168,000 lb
(76,204 kg)
Range 2,085 NM (3,860 km) 2,172 NM (4,023 km)
*2,389 NM (4,424 km)
Typical Cruise Speed Mach 0.76 (504 mph, 811 km/h)
Length 152 ft 7 in
(46.5 m)
Wing span 107 ft 10 in
(32.87 m)
Height 30 ft 6 in
(9.4 m)
Power plant (2 x) IAE V2525-D5
25,000 lbf (111.21 kN)
Optional: IAE V2528-D5
28,000 lbf (124.55 kN)

Note: * With extra 565 gallon auxiliary fuel tank.
Sources: MD-90 characteristics, MD-90 specs, MD-90 airport report


  • Becher, Thomas. Douglas Twinjets, DC-9, MD-80, MD-90 and Boeing 717. The Crowood Press, 2002. ISBN 1-86126-446-1.

External links[]


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