The penultimate aircraft from the storied Douglas Aircraft Company to appear was the McDonnell Douglas MD-11. Taking to the skies on 10 January 1990, it entered service on 20 December 1990 with Finnair.

Essentially a modernised version of the Douglas DC-10, it had a troubled beginning. High drag meant that initial targets for range and fuel burn were not achieved and it wasn’t until 1995 that this was corrected.

McDonnell Douglas MD-11 Video

Following on from last weeks video about the Ilyushin IL-86, this week we return stateside to look at the MD-11. The video runs for about 14 minutes and gives a decent enough overview of the story of this trijet.

Typically seating 298 passengers in three classes or 323 in two classes, the aircraft has a range of 12,455 kilometres. Airlines typically used it for long-haul services.

Large fleets were operated by airlines such as Swissair, Brazil’s VARIG and VASP, KLM, Finnair, Garuda and Japan Airlines. In the United States, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines operated the MD-11, however these were disposed of relatively quickly in favour of newer designs.

Competition from the new Airbus A330 and Airbus A340 as well as what would become the Boeing 777 resulted in just 200 being built and the final two deliveries took place in 2001.

Flight Testing The MD-11

Running for around 12 minutes, this promotional video from McDonnell Douglas shows flight testing of the MD-11. For anyone who has ever wanted to see some of the tests commercial aircraft go through, this one is for you.

Some exciting footage is presented such as stall testing, as well as the minimum unstick and rejected take-off tests. Seeing sparks flying from underneath and the smoke billowing from the main undercarriage is very interesting.

For The Technical Geeks and Pilots

A second video from McDonnell Douglas goes into detail about the MD-11’s systems. Particular attention is paid to the flight deck and how everything works in there. At 19 minutes, it may also be worth a look.

One thing that stood out was a comparison between the DC-10 and MD-11. Apparently it took 28 switch actions to jettison fuel on the older aircraft, whereas there is just one button that handles this on the new one. Talk about an advance!

Overall Thoughts

KLM operated the last McDonnell Douglas MD-11 in scheduled passenger service, with the last flight taking place on 26 October 2014. Cargo operators Federal Express, UPS and others continue to operate these jets today.

McDonnell Douglas was purchased by Boeing in August 1997, which saw the end of a company that had produced aircraft since 1921. KLM was the most prolific operator of Douglas aircraft, flying the DC-2, DC-3, DC-4, DC-5, DC-6, DC-7, DC-8, DC-9, DC-10 and MD-11.

Did you ever fly on board an MD-11? Perhaps you fly it today as a pilot? What is it like? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please let me know.

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Featured image by Feike Westenbroek via KLM.