As most of you may know by now, I am an aviation nut. And the year 2010 was kind of sad to people like me. Delta Air Lines has retired the last DC-9-30 in its fleet.
Over the past twenty years if you flew on Delta or Northwest much at all, there’s a good chance that some of your journeys took place on the DC-9-30. It’s a single asile twin-jet with three and two seating in coach and two and two up front in first class.
Delta retired its last DC-9-30 in December of 1992. I was on one of the last flights for the type from Dallas to Detroit. And they have once again retired the last DC-9-30 in the fleet. How could that be?
Well when they punted the dash-30s in 1992, guess who bought many of them? Northwest! Northwest also collected DC-9-30s from other airlines. So when Delta bought Northwest, it once again had DC-9-30s in the fleet.
The older DC-9s were retired because the newer and bigger twin jets are more fuel efficient.
Interestingly, when Delta bought Northwest, all the planes were quickly repainted in the Delta scheme. But not the DC-9-30s. That’s because it was Delta’s intent to retire them soon. So why waste the cost and paint!
Many DC-9-30s flown by Delta and Northwest left the Douglas Aircraft Company way back in 1967. In fact the last revenue flight for a Delta DC-9-30 came last month as N8928E (tail number) flew from Providence to Atlanta and was then retired.
As for the future of the dash-30s, I suppose some will continue flying with other airlines. In cases like this, the older planes often find new homes in developing regions like South America. And there’s nothing wrong with them. As long as they are properly maintained and updated, they can fly for several more years. Sadly, many will probably be sold for scrap metal and be broken up.
As for the rest of the Douglas jets in the Delta fleet, they only have two left. The slightly longer DC-9-40 will continue to fly for Delta into 2011 before they are put out to pasture. And the even bigger DC-9-50 is probably going to remain with the airline a little bit longer.
You’ll still continue to see plenty of big brothers of the DC-9 out at Metro. When Douglas merged with McDonnell, the company became known as McDonnell-Douglas and went on to build the super stretch MD-88. Delta and American have a ton of them in their fleet. Actually American flies the ever so slightly different MD-82 and MD-83 but even I can’t tell the difference just from looking! You’ll also see occasional visits from Delta MD-90s along with the final version of the DC-9 which is now called the Boeing 717. Air Tran flies them in and out of Metro. It started out life as the MD-95 but when Boeing bought McDonnel-Douglas, they finally plugged in the Boeing jet that had never had a plane to go with it — the 717. Think about it. The Boeing 707, 720, 727, 737, 747, 757, 767, 777 and eventually the 787 Dreamliner. Now, finally, the retro 717!