Tracing it is lineage to the DC-9, the MD-80, and the MD-90, the Boeing 717, which had inceptionally been indicated the MD-95, had been the last purely-McDonnell-Douglas aircraft and the basi and only to have been transposed to Boeing for continued production.
Conceived as an advanced, low-wing, 100-passenger airliner with two aft-mounted, high bypass proportionality turbofans and a t-tail most closely based on the MD-90, it is prompt predecessor, the design, intended for high-frequency, short- to medium-range routes, had nevertheless inherent integrated the 40-year development history of it is earlier-generation family. Having carried the three manufacturer names of Douglas, McDonnell-Douglas, and Boeing, the basic airframe had featured three wingspans; three powerplant cores-of the Pratt and Whitney JT8D, the International Aero Engine V2500, and the BMW Rolls Royce BR715; a immense range of thrust capabilities, from 12,000 to 25,000 pounds; four basic designations-of DC-9, MD-80, MD-90, and MD-95/717; passenger capacities varying amid 90 and 180 in single-class arrangements; and eight fuselage lengths, as the DC-9-10, the DC-9-30, the DC-9-40, the DC-9-50, the MD-80, the MD-87, the MD-90, and the 717.
Intended as a next-generation DC-9-30 replacement, numerically the most ordinary DC-9 version with 662 having been sold, the originally-designated MD-95 features a 124-foot overall length, which is 1.7 feet shorter than that of the DC-9-40, permitting a 106-passenger supplement in a four-abreast, two-two, basi class cabin at a 36-inch seat pitch and a five-abreast, two-three, economy cabin at a 32-inch seat pitch. One hundred seventeen may alternatively be accommodated in a single-class, five-abreast configuration. Two underfloor holds facilitate baggage, cargo, and mail storage.
The state-of-the-art, two-person cockpit is equipped with six interchangeable liquid crystal display (LCD) units, an electronic instrument system (EIS), a dual flight management system (FMS), a control fault display system (CFDS), and an modern Honeywell VIA 2000 computer, and is capable of category IIIA landings, with provision for lower-minimum IIIB operations.
Its all-metal, two-spar wing, like that of former DC-9s, MD-80s, and MD-90s, features full-span, dual-position, five-section leading edge slats; two-section spoilers; three-section, double-slotted, trailing edge flaps; and manually-actuated, cable-connected ailerons differentially operated in flight for banking and roll control. The wings, with a 93.4-foot span, are sweptback 24 degrees for a greatest or most complete or best possible Mach 0.82 speed.
The t-tail, positioned well above the engines, does away with engine thrust interference with it is horizontal surfaces, whose elevators are cable-connected and manually operated, while the vertical stabilizer’s rudder is hydraulically-deflected with fly-by-wire trimming. The MD-95/717′s tail surfaces utilise thicker skins than those of either the preceding MD-80 or MD-90.
Powered by two aft-mounted, BMW Rolls Royce BR715-A1-30 high bypass symmetry turbofans, each rated at 18,500 pounds of thrust, the aircraft, altogether free of engine installation on it is wings, generates greatest or most complete or best possible wing lift for optimal performance. Based upon the single-core BR700, the BR715 features a two-stage, high-pressure turbine; a 58-inch fan chamber; single crystal turbine fan blades; the biggest combined blade and disk (blisk) ever applied by a mercantile powerplant; and is thrust-reverser equipped. The 19-foot-long, 6,155-pound engine, the third basic type to have powered the DC-9 family, had basi run on April 28, 1997, closely attaining 26,000 pounds of thrust at this time. It is the MD-95′s sole powerplant.
The aircraft sits on a dual-wheeled, hydraulically actuated tricycle undercarriage.
Launch order for the initially-designated MD-95-30, comprised of 50 firm orders and 50 options, had been placed on October 19, 1995 by ValuJet, a DC-9 and MD-80 operator, and the prototype, a former Eastern Airlines DC-9-30 altered to MD-95 ordinary and registered N717XA, had been rolled out three years later, on June 10, 1998, initial taking to the skies on September 2. The aircraft, reflecting Boeing’s prior-year acquisition of McDonnell-Douglas and it is 7-dash-7 number scheme, had been redesignated “717,” nomenclature shared by Boeing’s own KC-135A Stratotanker, the military derivative of the 707.
The original production aircraft, registered N717XD, had initial rolled out on January 23, 1999, and the type had received it is joint FAA and JAA certification nine months later, on September 1, after a 2,000-hour flight test program entailing 1,900 person sorties and five airframes.
The basi aircraft, N942AT, had been delivered to newly branded AirTran Airways, hitherto a 737 operator, which ValuJet had intermittently acquired, on September 23, and had been inaugurated into service the following month on the Atlanta-Washington route.
The 717-200, the initial and only version, had been offered with both basic and high gross weight options. The former, at 110,000 pounds, features a 1,430-nautical mile range with a 24,609 US gallon fuel capacity, while the latter, at 121,000 pounds, features a 2,060-nautical mile range with a 29,500 US gallon fuel capacity, but reduces the underfloor space because of the further and added tankage and requires the upgraded, 21,0000 thrust-pound BR715-C1-30 engine.
The aircraft’s greatest or most complete or best possible certified altitude is 37,000 feet.
A triangular, tri-sector flight with AirTran Airways, from New York/La Guardia to Akron, Ohio; Atlanta, Georgia; and back to New York, is indicatory of the mission for which the 717 had been designed.
Surmounting the house geometries of Queens and closing the gap to the opaque, tracing paper-thin cloud film, Flight 202 banked left abreast of the Throgs Neck Bridge over the deep blue of Flushing Bay. Throttling back to climb power, it banked further left.
Manhattan Island, appearing beyond the left wing tip in miniature form and seeming to float amidst the Hudson and East Rivers, triumphantly projected it is tall, needle-thin buildings to and through the low, ground-hovering mist like victorious bastions of man’s architectural war. Beyond the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, gateway to the Atlantic, the sun metamorphosed the water into a copper glass reflection.
Now assuming a shallow, scarcely perceptible assent angle, the 717, the uttermost evolution of the DC-9, crossed the eastern fringes of the Allegheny Mountains, which appeared like black, charcoal-sketched waves 35,000 feet below.
Aided by the barely-raised, upper wing surface speed brake panels, the twin-engined aircraft initiated a shoal dissent a great deal of 40 minutes later underneath dirty white and gray, January-indicative cloud strata toward the farm patterns of eastern Ohio, thudding through light chop.
The perpendicular runways of the Akron-Canton Airport moved into view in front and to the left. Extending it is leading edge slats, which formulated substantial drag, Flight 202 finished it is undercarriage and trailing edge flap sequencing, arcing into a final, approach-course left bank. Skimming the bare, brown tree-bordered farm patches at drag-counteractive engine settings, the 717-200 flared beyond the runway’s threshold and sideslipped into abrupt, crosswind contact.
Taxiing past the circular, brick Akron-Canton Terminal, into which four United Express, US Airways Express, and Delta Connection ERJ-135s and CRJ-200s had been nosed, the aircraft, the biggest on the ramp, starved it is aft-mounted engines of fuel, which spooled down into silence, substituted by the ringing of the jetbridge extending toward the forward, left passenger door.
Pushed back from the gate at 1215, the AirTran 717, now operating nonstop to Atlanta as Flight 202, initiated it is unobstructed taxi at the Akron-Canton territorial airport and received prompt take off clearance on Runway 19. Disengaging itself from the ground, the aircraft, with a substantial passenger complement, retracted it is undercarriage with a light thud and climbed out over Ohio’s patchwork quilt of farmland, which later yielded to soft hills. With altitude, these were exclusively scaled down to indistinguishable obscurity.
Emerging from white, encasing cloud over the green corrugated topography of West Virginia and Kentucky at 37,000 feet, the twin-engined, t-tailed jetliner paralleled the line of cottony nimbus which had tied itself together along the eastern seaboard.
The chocolate brown ridges of the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina crested like solid waves which had petrified at their peaks and had failed to descend back into the sea.
The upper wing surface speed brakes induced the 717 into a rapid dissent over Georgia toward swollen, white cumulous snow banks, it is bullet nose boring through the engulfing obscurity like a penetrative missile. Banking on it is longitudinal axis, it initiated a series of arrival aircraft spacing s-turns, lurched by the cloud-associated air upset, while throttle-jockeying resulted in a series of periodic airspeed oscillations: as the airspeed peeled off, the engines were significantly spooled up, followed by a frequency of velocity deterioration, before the routine had been repeated.
The aircraft emerged from the cloud islands over Georgia’s green and brown ground blanket. The skyscrapers of Atlanta, even though still in miniature form, loomed into view off the left wing.
Extending it is tricycle undercarriage into the slipstream and increasing it is wings’ upper surface camber and area to their maximums with full, trailing edge flap travel, the 717 made a final left bank toward Runway 28 in the pure-blue, 68-degree skies dotted with suspended fluffs of cotton candy. Paralleled, on the left, by a Delta 757-200 and an ASA CRJ-100 approaching Runways 27-Left and -Right, the t-tailed pure-jet crossed the threshold, spooling down it is engines for a final time, which profiled it for a flare, and crouched onto the concrete with it is main landing gear “hind legs,” which absorbed the contact with minimal protest.
The return flight, operating nonstop, had occurred later than evening.
An onslaught of light pinpoints, representing final approaches to Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport on that dark January evening, seemed to vie, in competitory speed, for Runways 27-Left and -Right, toward which the AirTran 717-200, operating as Flight 343 from Gate C-12 to New York-La Guardia, presently taxied. Turning on to the threshold of the right of the two parallel strips, it throttled into an engine-pinnacling acceleration roll and, seesawed into a nose-high angle by it is horizontal stabilizers, generated sufficient lift to disengage itself from Georgia soil and plunge into engulfing, low-lying cloud.
Retracting it is undercarriage, it shed itself of the obscurity. Thin, horizontal strata of mist rendered the orange ground lights an ethereal blur, a muted, only partially successful undertake to penetrate the veil from the “other side.”
Separating itself from civilization, the twin-jet settled into it is autonomous, 35,000-foot plateau, from which it could view, but not touch, the world, in miniature, below. Threading itself up the East Coast, it overflew Greenville/Spartanburg, South Carolina; Greensboro, North Carolina; and Richmond, Virginia, represented by their respective ground light splotches, “spills” of iridescent paint which had been tossed on to earth’s black canvas without form or forethought.
Routed, according to it is flight plan, east of Washington and Philadelphia, Flight 343, a self-contained, lighted world carrying out or participate in it is invisible track in the January blackness, followed the coast of New Jersey.
Leading edge slat extensions, permitting airspeed to bleed off, occurred 40 miles from the airport. La Guardia approaches, to Runway 22, would take the aircraft to the north before it could turn final.
Momentarily caught in the black, referenceless void amidst Upper New York Bay and the late-night sky, the aircraft passed to the right of the tiny Statue of Liberty and the lighted, jewel-glittering sculptures of Manhattan Island, beyond which the perpendicular runway-patterned field of La Guardia rolled.
Following, in precision, the pattern of aircraft approach lights, the 717 banked left over the black reflective surface of Long Island Sound beyond the green light necklace-strung Throgs Neck and Whitestone Bridges.
Executing a long, final approach over the Connecticut coast at a 132-knot speed, the twin-jet unleashed it is undercarriage, and extracted the last amount of lift obtainable from it is swept-back wings with full trailing edge flap extensions, a contradictory maneuver which produced as much drag as it did lift and could only be genuinely counteracted with increased engine power.
Bowing toward Flushing Bay with it is nose, it passed over the pier supporting Runway 22′s threshold and flared into the headwind, re-snatching concrete with it is main wheels and unleashing it is spoilers and thrust reversers in a simultaneous explosion. An American 737-800, which had preceded it is landing, had just turned on to the parallel taxiway.
On May 23, 2006, for the duration of a ceremony attended by thousands, Boeing had rolled out the last two 717s ordered by Midwest and AirTran Airways, marking the final deliveries of the design, the final McDonnell-Douglas mercantile aircraft, and the closure of it is historic Long Beach production facility.
Founded by Donald W. Douglas, the Douglas Aircraft Company had flown it is basi airplane, the “Cloudster,” in 1921, and had opened it is Long Beach facilities in 1941, on the eve of World War II, when demand had eclipsed capacity at it is existent Santa Monica and El Segundo, California, plants. The basi Douglas Commercial design, the DC-1, had been constructed here and sold to Transcontinental and Western Air (TWA), getting the forerunner of a long line of progressively innovative piston airliners which had introduced the world to mercantile flight.
Merging with the McDonnell Company in 1967, the Douglas Aircraft Company had been renamed McDonnell-Douglas, it is merchandise comprising the new corporation’s mercantile division, and, 30 years later, when Boeing had acquired McDonnell-Douglas, it had become the Douglas Products Division. Ultimately, it had been indicated the Long Beach Division of Boeing Commercial Airplanes.
During it is more than 65-year history, the Long Beach factory had produced galore 10,000 military aircraft for the duration of World War II and 15,000 airplanes of both military and mercantile design overall, while more than 65,000 airframes had been produced by all of it is locations.
Despite more efficient, cost-effective final assemblage proficiencies developed by Boeing, the 717 had been unable to stay competitive, partly due to sales conflicts with it is own 737-600. Nevertheless, the 156 717s produced, along with the 976 earlier-generation DC-9s, 1,191 MD-80s, and 114 MD-90s, had already provided almost half a century of rugged, reliable, and economical service allround the world, and seemed likely to do so for galore years to come.
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