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McDonnell Douglas DC-10
The McDonnell Douglas DC-10 is a medium- to long-range widebody airliner seating up to 380 passengers. The DC-10 emerged in the late 1960s as the first Douglas widebody airliner and it was the second widebody jet reaching operational status after the Boeing 747.
The first orders
American Airlines also changed its specifications to a trijet. After Douglas adapted its design, American ordered 25 DC-10 aircraft on February 19 1968. But after Lockheed gathered 144 orders and options for the competing L-1011 TriStar, it was far from certain that McDonnell Douglas could proceed with the DC-10. It needed an order from another big US airline, from United Airlines in particular. If United didn't choose the DC-10, the aircraft manufacturer would be forced to cancel the project. However, on April 26 1968 United decided to buy 30 DC-10s and took 30 options. The DC-10 could be launched.
The first flight of the DC-10 was on August 29, 1970 and American Airlines introduced the airliner in service on August 5, 1971 on its Los Angeles - Chicago route. Because Douglas offered cargo, convertible and combi versions from the beginning, the DC-10 became soon more popular than the TriStar, which also suffered financial trouble and production delays.
Four main civil versions of the DC-10 were built, plus one military variant. These versions were:
The DC-10-10 was intended for domestic medium-range services, for example US coast-to-coast flights. This version is powered by General Electric CF6-engines. It has only two main undercarriage legs. 131 aircraft have been built.
The DC-10-15 is a version of the DC-10-10 for hot-and-high airports like Mexico City. The main customers were Mexicana and Aeromexico. It entered service in 1981. Only seven aircraft were produced.
The DC-10-30 was designed for intercontinental long-range routes and powered by General Electric CF6-engines. With more than 200 built this was the most popular DC-10 version. It was also available as freighter and convertible. The DC-10-30 has higher weights, a bigger wingspan and more fuel capacity. To carry the extra weight a third main undercarriage leg with two wheels was added. KLM was the first airline to put the passenger version of the DC-10-30 in service.
The DC-10-40 is identical to the DC-10-30, apart from the engines. The DC-10-40 is powered by Pratt & Whitney JT9D Engines. The version was specially developed for Northwest Airlines. The only other customer was Japan Airlines. 42 aircraft have been built.
The KC-10 Extender is the military tanker and transport variant in service with the US Air Force.
DC-10 Twin studies
In the early 1970s McDonnell Douglas considered a short-fuselage, twin-engined derivative of the DC-10, the 'DC-10 Twin', with a range of 4000 km (2160 nm) and 236 seats. McDonnell Douglas targeted an in-service date in 1975, but in the end considered the twin a danger for its own DC-10-10 trijet, and didn't develop it. The twin was renamed DC-X-200 later. The history of widebody aircraft might look quite different if McDonnell Douglas had decided on producing this aircraft, because it would have been a main competitor for the Airbus A300. In the late 1970s MDC hardly sold any DC-10-10s any more, and Airbus won most orders for short-haul widebody airliners. Later DC-10-based twinjet proposals also didn't materialise.
Although McDonnell Douglas was a master in stretching aircraft like the DC-8 and DC-9 and although it considered lengthened versions of the DC-10 from the beginning, it never did so until it launched the MD-11 in 1986. The DC-10 was quite fit for stretches. It was rather high on its wheels to allow a stretch of more than 12 meter (40 ft) without the risk of tail-scraping on take-off. But in the mid-1970s the airlines were not interested in longer DC-10s because of the oil crisis and the economic recession.
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