McDonnell Douglas DC-10

airliner family by McDonnell Douglas
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The McDonnell Douglas DC-10 is an American three-engine medium- to long-range widebody airliner, with two engines mounted on underwing pylons and a third engine at the base of the vertical stabilizer. The model was a successor to the company's DC-8 for long-range operations, and competed in the same markets as the Airbus A300, Boeing 747, and Lockheed L-1011 Tristar, which has a similar layout to the DC-10.

DC-10 / MD-10
A DC-10-30 of Continental Airlines
Role Wide-body airliner
National origin United States
Manufacturer McDonnell Douglas
Designer Douglas Aircraft Company
First flight August 29, 1970; 53 years ago (1970-08-29)
Introduction August 5, 1971, with American Airlines
Status In limited service for cargo and special missions
Primary users FedEx Express
  • UPS
  • 10 Tanker Air Carrier
  • TAB Cargo
  • Orbis International
Produced 1968–1988
Number built
  • McDonnell Douglas KC-10 Extender
  • DC-10 Air Tanker
Developed into McDonnell Douglas MD-11
An Airtours DC10 at Manchester Airport in 2001.

Production of the DC-10 ended in December 1988 with 386 delivered to airlines and 60 to the U.S. Air Force as air-to-air refueling tankers, designated the KC-10 Extender.[2] The DC-10 was succeeded by the related McDonnell Douglas MD-11 which entered service in 1990.


DC-10 of Ghana Airways
A Delta Airlines DC-10 at LaGuardia Airport (LGA)

Douglas Aircraft began design studies based on its CX-HLS design. In 1966, American Airlines offered a specification to manufacturers for a widebody aircraft smaller than the Boeing 747 but capable of flying similar long-range routes from airports with shorter runways. The DC-10 became McDonnell Douglas's first commercial airliner after the merger between McDonnell Aircraft Corporation and Douglas Aircraft Company in 1967. The DC-10 was first ordered by launch customers American Airlines with 25 orders, and United Airlines with 30 orders and 30 options in 1968. The DC-10, a series 10 model, made its first flight on August 29, 1970. Following a flight test program with 929 flights covering 1,551 hours, the DC-10 was awarded a type certificate from the FAA on July 29, 1971. It entered commercial service with American Airlines on August 5, 1971 on a round trip flight between Los Angeles and Chicago. United Airlines began DC-10 service on August 16, 1971.[6] The DC-10's similarity to the L-1011 in terms of passenger capacity and launch in the same time frame resulted in a head to head sales competition which affected profitability of the aircraft.

Accidents and Problems


The DC-10 had design flaws and had a poor safety record in its early years. But later, the design flaws were improved, and the DC-10 became much safer. The following accidents are some of those which have occurred since 1972.

  • June 12, 1972 - American Airlines Flight 96, bound from Detroit to Buffalo and then to LaGuardia Airport, experienced an explosive decompression in flight. The cause was a poorly-designed rear cargo door. The crew managed to land the plane safely back in Detroit.
  • November 3, 1973 - National Airlines Flight 27, en route from New Mexico. The right engine exploded. Of the 128 on board, one passenger died.
  • March 3, 1974 - Turkish Airlines Flight 981, bound from Paris to London and carrying 346 passengers and crew, crashed nine minutes after takeoff, killing everyone onboard. The cause was the same as that of American Flight 96.
  • November 12, 1975, Overseas National Airways flight 032. During taking off in John F Kennedy Airport, a bird strike occurs. All 129 on board survive.
  • May 25, 1979 - American Airlines Flight 191 crashed during takeoff near O'Hare International Airport while bound for Los Angeles. All 271 people on board and 2 on the ground were killed; this remains the worst plane crash in America. Engine No. 1 separated from the plane while on takeoff roll. The cause of the crash was due to a maintenance error and a design flaw with the engine's pylon. All DC-10s worldwide were grounded until modifications were made.
  • October 31, 1979 - Western Airlines Flight 2605 collided with the construction gears and crashed at Mexico City Airport. Killed 72 of 88 people on board. Airport bus driver is also killed in crash.
  • November 28, 1979 - Air New Zealand Flight 901 crashed into Mount Erebus on Ross Island, Antarctica during a sightseeing flight over the continent, killing all 257 on board. It is the deadliest air disaster in Air New Zealand history. The accident was caused by the flight coordinates being altered without the flight crew's knowledge, combined with unique Antarctic weather.
  • January 23, 1982 - World Airways Flight 30 overran the runway at Boston Logan International Airport. All 12 crew survived, but two of the 200 passengers were never found.
  • September 13, 1982 - Spantax Flight 995 was destroyed by fire after an aborted take-off at Málaga, Spain. Of the 394 People On Board, 50 passengers were killed and 110 injured due to the flames.
  • December 3, 1983 - Korean Air Flight 084 collides with SouthCentral Air Flight 59 at Anchorage International Airport. But everyone on both aircraft survived.
  • July 19, 1989 - United Airlines Flight 232 crashed at Sioux Gateway Airport killing 111 of 296 people. The cause: Engine 2 failed with destruction of the hydraulic systems.
  • July 27, 1989 - Korean Air Flight 803 crashed short of the runway in bad weather while trying to land at Tripoli, Libya. 75 of the 199 on board plus another 4 people on the ground were killed in the accident.
  • September 19, 1989 - UTA Flight 772 crashed in the Ténéré Desert in Niger following an in-flight bomb explosion, claiming the lives of all 170 on board. The cause: Terrorist bomb exploded.
  • December 21, 1992 - Martin Air Flight 495 crashed while landing in bad weather at Faro, Portugal. Of the 340 people on board, 54 passengers and crew were killed. The cause: Windshear.
  • June 13, 1996 - Garuda Indonesia Flight 865 had just taken off from Fukuoka Airport, Japan, when a high-pressure blade from the right engine separated. The aircraft was just a few feet above the runway, and the pilot decided to abort the takeoff. Consequently, the DC-10 skidded off the runway and came to a halt 1,600 ft (490 m) past it, losing one of its engines and its landing gear. Three passengers perished in the accident.
  • January 31, 2001 - Japan Airlines Flight 958 Almost Mid-Air Collision in 2001 Japan Airlines mid-air incident. But everyone on board survived.


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Commercial Airplanes: DC-10 Family". Archived from the original on December 13, 2010. Retrieved January 4, 2011.
  2. "McDonnell Douglas DC-10/KC-10 Transport". Boeing. Retrieved February 28, 2006.