In ceremonies attended by more than 1,000 employees, government officials and other guests today at the Boeing plant here, Trans World Airlines, Inc., took delivery of the last MD-80 to come off the twinjet production line.
The airplane marks the 26th MD-80 delivered to TWA this year. In February, TWA will begin taking deliveries of the new 100-passenger Boeing 717 as the airline continues to rejuvenate its fleet. TWA has placed firm orders for 50 717s and has options for 50 more.
The final MD-80, an MD-83 model featuring non-stop range of approximately 2,880 statute miles, brings to 102 the number of MD-80 twinjets operated by TWA. The airline also flies DC-9s and Boeing 727s, 757s and 767s.
During the ceremonies, Long Beach Mayor Beverly O'Neill christened the last MD-80 "Spirit of Long Beach" in honor of all the men and women who have built MD-80s for two decades at the Long Beach facility.
Boeing announced in May 1998 that it would phase out production of the MD-80 as well as the MD-90. The last MD-90 is scheduled for delivery early next year. Both airplanes are produced on the same Long Beach final assembly line.
TWA's MD-83 is configured in the airline's new Trans World First arrangement, including 20 first-class seats. Overall, the airplane cabin will seat 142 passengers. The airplane is painted in TWA's distinctive new livery featuring a golden globe on the forward fuselage. The MD-83s are powered by two Pratt & Whitney JT8D-219 engines.
"This day is especially historic because TWA has now come full circle," said William F. Compton, TWA's president and chief executive officer. "Ironically, not only is TWA taking delivery of the last MD-80 twin-engine jet to be made by the former McDonnell Douglas work force, but in 1933, TWA took delivery of the first twin-engine transport airplane, the DC-1, made by a predecessor of McDonnell Douglas, the Douglas Aircraft Company. TWA's DC-1 was the only one of its kind ever made."
Jim Phillips, vice president and general manager of the Boeing Long Beach Division, expressed similar views.
"It is fitting that TWA is the airline accepting this last, historic MD-80 because it is this very airline that helped the Douglas Aircraft Company define the DC-1, the airplane that helped to pioneer comfortable and profitable passenger service," Phillips said.
The MD-80 is one of the most successful airplane programs in commercial aviation history. Douglas Aircraft, McDonnell Douglas and Boeing delivered 1,191 MD-80s from 1979 to 1999. More than 1,180 are still in service with more than 50 domestic and foreign airlines.
The first MD-80, then known as a DC-9 Series 80, or Super 80, made its initial flight on Oct. 18, 1979. Less than a year later, on Sept. 13, 1980, Swissair took the first delivery. The airplane entered passenger service the following month. TWA took delivery of its first MD-80, an MD-82, on April 18, 1983.
The MD-80 is the quiet, clean and modern successor to the popular DC-9. The company produced 976 DC-9s from 1965 to 1982.