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Boeing 717
An Aerolíneas de Baleares 717
Role Airliner
National origin United States
Manufacturer Boeing Commercial Airplanes
First flight September 2, 1998
Introduction October 12, 1999
Status In service
Primary users AirTran Airways
Hawaiian Airlines
Produced 1998-2006
Number built 156
Developed from McDonnell Douglas MD-80

The Boeing 717 is a twin-engine, single-aisle jet airliner, developed for the 100-seat market. The airliner was designed and marketed by McDonnell Douglas as the MD-95, a third-generation derivative of the DC-9.

The first order was placed in October 1995; however, McDonnell Douglas and Boeing merged in 1997[1] prior to production. The first planes entered service in 1999 as the Boeing 717. Production ceased in May 2006 after 156 units were produced.[2]





Douglas Aircraft developed the DC-9 to be a short-range companion to their larger four engined DC-8 in the early 1960s. The DC-9 was an all-new design, using two rear fuselage-mounted Pratt & Whitney JT8D turbofan engines, a small, highly efficient wing, and a T-tail. The DC-9 first flew in 1965 and entered airline service later that year. When production ended in 1982 a total of 976 DC-9s had been produced.

The McDonnell Douglas MD-80 series was introduced into airline service in 1980. The design was the second generation of the DC-9. It was a lengthened DC-9-50 with a higher maximum take-off weight (MTOW) and higher fuel capacity, as well as next-generation Pratt and Whitney JT8D-200 series engines. Nearly 1,200 MD-80s were delivered from 1980 to 1999.

The MD-90 was developed from the MD-80 series. It was launched in 1989 and first flew in 1993. The MD-90 was longer, and featured a glass cockpit (electronic instrumentation) and more powerful, quieter, fuel efficient V2525-D5 engines, with the option of upgrading that to a V2528 engine. However, only 117 MD-90 airliners were built.


The MD-95 was initially announced in 1991, as the MD-87-105, a shortened, 105-seat version of the MD-80 series.[3] It was developed to satisfy the market need to replace early DC-9 models, then approaching 30 years old. The MD-95 project was a complete overhaul of the system, going back to the original DC-9-30 design and reinventing it for modern transport with new engines, cockpit and other more modern systems.[3] Historically, aircraft shrinks have sold poorly, examples of such aircraft in addition to the MD-87 include the Boeing 747SP, Boeing 737-600, Airbus A318, and Airbus A340-200.

The "MD-95" name was selected to reflect the anticipated year deliveries would begin.[3] McDonnell Douglas first offered the airliner for sale in 1994.[4] Longtime McDonnell Douglas customer Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS) chose the Boeing 737-600 for its 100-seater over the MD-95 in March 1995.[3] Then in October 1995, US discount carrier ValuJet signed an order for 50 MD-95s, plus 50 options.[3] Launching MD-95 production on the basis of a small order was seen as a low risk move by McDonnell Douglas. [5] The ValuJet order was the only order received for some two years.[6]


An AirTran Airways Boeing 717-200 climbing away in 2006.

After McDonnell Douglas merged with Boeing in August 1997,[7] most industry observers expected that Boeing would cancel development of the MD-95. However, Boeing would go forward with the design under a new name, Boeing 717. Some believed Boeing had skipped the 717 model designation when the 720, and then the 727 followed the 707. The 717 name had actually been used within the company to refer to the KC-135 Stratotanker. 717 had also been used to promote an early design of the 720 to airlines before it was modified to meet market demands. A Boeing historian notes that the air force plane had the designation "717-100" and the commercial airliner had the designation "717-200".[8] The lack of a widespread use of the 717 name left it available to rebrand the MD-95.

At first Boeing had no more success selling the 717 than McDonnell Douglas. Even the original order for 50 was no certainty in the chaotic post-deregulation US airline market. In the end, ValuJet, now part of AirTran Airways, would meet with considerable success and operate a fleet of 717-200 aircraft.

Boeing's decision to go ahead with the 717 slowly began to pay off. Early 717 operators were delighted with the reliability and passenger appeal of the type and ordered more. The small Australian regional airline Impulse took a long-term lease on five 717s in early 2000 to begin an expansion into mainline routes. The ambitious move could not be sustained in competition with the majors, and Impulse sold out to Qantas in May 2001. This left Qantas with a more-or-less unwanted handful of "warmed-over DC-9s" to spoil the efficiency of its fleet of large Boeing and small BAe 146 jets.

A QantasLink Boeing 717-200 departs Perth Airport, Australia. (2007)

Within a few months, however, the abilities of the 717 became clear. It is roomier and faster than the BAe 146, cheaper to operate, and achieved a higher dispatch reliability, over 99%, than competing aircraft.[9] Maintenance costs are very low: a C check inspection, for example, takes three days and is required once in 6,000 flying hours. (For comparison, its predecessor, the DC-9 needed 21 days for a C check.) The new Rolls-Royce BR715 engine design is highly modular: none of the line-replaceable units takes more than an hour to exchange, and about a third of them can be changed in under 15 minutes.

The result has been that many 717 operators, even accidental ones like Qantas, have become converts to the plane. Qantas bought more 717s, bringing its fleet up to 14. Other significant orders have come from Hawaiian Airlines, Midwest Airlines, and Pembroke Leasing. Bangkok Airways operates 717s — the Thai regional carrier's first foray into jet aircraft.

Boeing actively marketed the 717 to a number of large airlines, including Lufthansa and Northwest (who already operated a large fleet of DC-9 aircraft). Boeing also studied a stretched, higher-capacity version of the 717, to have been called 717-300, but decided against proceeding with the new model, fearing that it would encroach on the company's 737-700 model. Production of the original 717 continued. Boeing continued to believe that the 100-passenger market would be lucrative enough to support both the 717 and the 737-600, the smallest of the Next-Generation 737 series. While the aircraft were similar in overall size, the 737-600 was better suited to long-distance routes, while the lighter 717 was more efficient on shorter, regional routes.

A Jetstar Airways Boeing 717-200 at Sydney Airport, Australia. (2005)

The 100-seat market was overcrowded until 2001, but several potential competitors disappeared. BAe canceled its Avro RJX (an updated BAe 146 with modern engines); Fairchild Dornier closed its doors, taking the 728/928 project with it, and Bombardier canceled its new BRJ in favor of a less ambitious stretched 90-seat CRJ900. The remaining players are Boeing, Airbus with the A318, and Embraer with the E-195. The worldwide fleet was then largely made up of aging twinjets with relatively high operating costs, notably the DC-9, early model 737s, and the Fokker 100, plus the newer four-engined BAe 146, which is a prime prospect for refurbishment.

In 2001, Boeing began implementing a moving assembly line for production of the 717 and 737.[10] The moving line greatly reduced production time, which was to lead to lower production costs.[11]

Following the slump in airline traffic caused by reaction to the September 11, 2001 attacks in the USA, Boeing announced a review of the type's future. After much deliberation, it was decided to continue with production. Despite the lack of orders, Boeing had confidence in the 717's fundamental suitability to the 100-seat market, and in the long-term size of that market. After 19 worldwide 717 sales in 2000, and just 6 in 2001, Boeing took 32 orders for the 717 in 2002, despite the massive industry downturn. Additionally, the former Douglas facility at Long Beach was producing only 717s and C-17s at this time.

End of production

A Hawaiian Airlines Boeing 717-200 boarding at Kona International Airport, Hawaii for an interisland flight. (2004)

Increased competition from regional jets manufactured by Bombardier and Embraer took a heavy toll on sales during the airline slump after 2001. The beginning of the end came in December 2003 when Boeing lost a US$ 2.7 billion contract from Air Canada, who chose the Embraer E-Jets and Canadair CRJ over the 717.[12] In January 2005, citing slow sales, Boeing announced that it planned to end production of the 717 after it had met all of its outstanding orders.[13]

A major difficulty with the 717 model was its lack of commonality with other Boeing aircraft. The 717 had no commonality with other aircraft, even prior MD-80 and DC-9 aircraft upon which it was based. The trend with aircraft manufacturers, particularly Airbus, was to make a "family" of aircraft with similar cockpits and systems, which would require only one "type-rating" for a crew. That way, whatever size of aircraft that was required on a particular route—even changing down to the day if necessary—could be used with any of the crew type-rated for the family. Although the 717 had operating costs 10% lower than the A318, airlines considering the 717 could not take advantage of the cost savings gained through commonality. Airbus used a commonality approach starting with their A320 narrow-body family (including A318, A319, and A321), and Boeing embraced this concept with their Next-Generation 737-600, -700, -800, and -900 models. Embraer, in their new E-Jet family, also took this approach, offering four regional aircraft in a common family, the largest of which had operational capabilities very close to the 717.

The 156th and final 717 rolled off the assembly line in April 2006 for AirTran Airways, who were the 717's launch customer as well as its final customer. The final two Boeing 717 airplanes were delivered to customers AirTran and Midwest Airlines on May 23, 2006.[2] The 717 was the last commercial airplane produced at Boeing's Long Beach facility in Southern California.[2]


An AirTran Airways Boeing 717-200 flight deck. (2006)

The 717 features a two-crew cockpit that incorporates six interchangeable liquid-crystal-display units and advanced Honeywell VIA 2000 computers. The cockpit design is called Advanced Common Flightdeck (ACF) and is shared with the MD-11. Flight deck features include an Electronic Instrument System, a dual Flight Management System, a Central Fault Display System, and Global Positioning System. Category IIIb automatic landing capability for bad-weather operations and Future Air Navigation Systems are available. The 717 shares the same type rating as the DC-9 such that FAA approved transition courses for DC-9 and analog MD-80 pilots can be completed in 11 days.[14]

In conjunction with Parker Hannifin, MPC Products of Skokie, Illinois designed a fly-by-wire technology mechanical control suite for the 717 flight deck. The modules replaced much cumbersome rigging that had occurred in previous DC-9/MD-80 aircraft. The Rolls-Royce BR715 engines are completely controlled by an electronic engine system (FADEC — Full Authority Digital Engine Control) developed by BAE Systems, offering improved controllability and optimization over its predecessors.

Like its DC-9/MD-80/MD-90 predecessors, the 717 has a 2+3 seating arrangement in coach, providing only one middle seat per row, whereas other single-aisle twin jets often have 3+3 arrangement with two middle seats per row. Unlike its predecessors, McDonnell Douglas decided not to offer the 717 with the boarding flexibility of aft airstairs, with the goal of maximizing fuel efficiency through the reduction and simplification of as much auxiliary equipment as possible.


Airlines that have operated the Boeing 717 include American Airlines, AirTran Airways, Bangkok Airways, Hawaiian Airlines, Jetstar Airways, National Jet, Olympic Airlines, Midwest Airlines, and Trans World Airlines. A total of 142 Boeing 717-200s were in airline service in August 2009:[15]

 United States
A MexicanaClick Boeing 717

Former operators


As of March 2009, the Boeing 717 has been involved in 5 incidents,[18] with no hull-loss accidents and no fatalities.[19] The incidents included an on-ground collision, a hard landing and one attempted hijacking.[18]


Basic Gross Weight
High Gross Weight
Cockpit crew 2
typical seating
106 (2 class)
117 (1 class)
Length 124 ft 0 in (37.8 m)
Wingspan 93 ft 5 in (28.47 m)
Tail height 29 ft 1 in (8.92 m)
Cabin width, external 131.6 in (334.2 cm)
Cabin width, internal 123.8 in (314.5 cm)
Max takeoff weight 110,000 lb (49,900 kg) 121,000 lb (54,900 kg)
Max range 1,430 nmi (2,645 km) 2,060 nmi (3,815 km)
Typical Cruising speed Mach 0.77 (570 mph, 917 km/h)
Powerplants (2x) Rolls Royce BR715-A1-30 Rolls Royce BR715-C1-30
Engine thrust 18,500 lbf (82.3 kN) 21,000 lbf (93.4 kN)

Sources: 717 Technical,[20] 717 Airport planning report[21]



 2004   2003   2002   2001   2000   1999   1998   1997   1996   1995 
8 8 32 3 21 0 50 0 0 50


 2006   2005   2004   2003   2002   2001   2000   1999   1998   1997 
5 13 12 12 20 49 32 12 0 0

B717 Orders Deliveries.jpg

See also

Related development

Comparable aircraft


  1. ^ Boeing Chronology, 1997-2001, Boeing
  2. ^ a b c "Boeing delivers last 717s", Boeing, May 23, 2006.
  3. ^ a b c d e Norris, Guy; Wagner, Mark (1999). Douglas Jetliners. MBI Publishing. ISBN 0-7603-0676-1. 
  4. ^ Becher 2002, p. 106.
  5. ^ Lopez, Ramon and Guy Norris. "MD-95 Launched with ValuJet". Flight International, October 25-31, 1995.
  6. ^ Becher 2002, p. 107.
  7. ^ "The Boeing Company ... The Giants Merge", Boeing history.
  8. ^ "Aerospace Notebook: Orphan 717 isn't out of sequence",, December 22, 2004.
  9. ^ Boeing 717: Designed for Airline Profitability
  10. ^ Boeing 2001 Annual report
  11. ^ 717 innovations live on long after production
  12. ^ "Air Canada buying 90 jets from Bombardier, Embraer". CBC News (CBC). December 19, 2003. Retrieved December 30, 2009. 
  13. ^ Boeing (January 15, 2005). "Boeing to Recognize Charges for USAF 767 Tanker Costs and Conclusion of 717 Production". Press release. Retrieved December 30, 2009. 
  14. ^ Flying the 717-200, Airline Pilot, Retrieved 15 December 2007.
  15. ^ "World Airliner Census". Flight International: 37–59. 2009-08-18. 
  16. ^ Listed as Cobham Aviation Sevices Australia
  17. ^ End Of Era Arrives: Midwest's Boeing 717 Lands For Good
  18. ^ a b Boeing 717 incidents,, March 22, 2009 .
  19. ^ Boeing 717 summary,, 2008.
  20. ^ 717-200 Technical Characteristics
  21. ^ 717-200 Airplane Characteristics for Airport Planning, sect 2.0 Aircraft Description, accessed March 8, 2007
  • Becher, Thomas. Douglas Twinjets, DC-9, MD-80, MD-90 and Boeing 717. The Crowood Press, 2002. ISBN 1-86126-446-1.

External links

Simple English

[[File:|thumb|An Aerolíneas de Baleares 717]] The Boeing 717 is a jet engine airliner made by McDonnell Douglas. It was first called the MD-95. It is based off the McDonnell Douglas DC-9.

The first order for the plane was made in October 1995. McDonnell Douglas merged with Boeing in 1997,[1] so the plane was renamed the 717. The Boeing 717 started to fly passengers in 1999. Boeing stopped making the planes in May 2006. They made 156 of them.[2]


  1. Boeing Chronology, 1997-2001, Boeing. Retrieved November 26, 2010
  2. "Boeing delivers last 717s", Boeing, May 23, 2006. Retrieved November 26, 2010
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