Dec. 1,2015: The last C-17 flew off the Boeing production line in Long Beach (CA) last week, ending aircraft
The final C-17 before taking off from the Long Beach (CA) production plant Boeing acquired in the McDonnell Douglas merger of 1997. MDC designed the C-17. Los Angeles Times photo.
production at the former McDonnell Douglas plant that began delivering Douglas DC-8s at the start of the jet age.
It’s the end of an era that lasted six decades.
Prior to producing the DC-8 at Long Beach, Douglas Aircraft Co. built its long line of piston airliners at the Santa Monica (CA) Airport.
The DC-8 was followed by the DC-9, DC-10, the DC-9 Super 80 series, the MD-11, the MD-90 and the final commercial airliner at Long Beach, the MD-95/Boeing 717. The C-17 was the only military aircraft built here.
Here’s a photo array dedicated to this storied history.
Pan Am was the launch customer of the DC-8, ordering 25 at the same time it ordered (and launched) 20 Boeing 707s. The order prompted an international rush to place jet orders. Pan Am later switched to the 707 exclusively. The DC-8s did serve Panagra, the joint venture between Pan Am and the Grace Co. Photo via Google images.
Douglas stretched the DC-8-50 into the DC-8-61/62 and 63 Series, creating the first jumbo jet of the era. The DC-8-61/63 could seat 250 passengers in all-coach. The DC-8-62 with 189 passengers became the first special-purpose long-range airplane. The Sixty Series later became the platform for the CFM56 engine application, and was renamed the DC-8-71/72/73. Photo via Google images.
Douglas DC-9. After the British Aircraft Corp. BAC-111, the DC-9 was the first small jet of the 1960s. Several models were created: the original DC-9-10, the -20 (shown), 30/40 and 50. The DC-9 eclipsed the BAC-111 and itself was eclipsed by the Boeing 737. Photo via Google images.
McDonnell Douglas found it difficult to sell the DC-9 Super 80, so it struck a deal with American Airlines for a walk-away deal for 20 airplanes. If after five years American didn’t like the airplanes, the carrier could return the airplanes, no questions asked. American wound up operating 300 Super 80s. Once the McDonnell Corp. acquired the failing Douglas to become McDonnell Douglas, the plane was renamed MD-80 for marketing purposes, but the Supplement Type Certificate read DC-9-80. Photo via Google images.
The MD-90 was MDC’s attempt to update the MD-80, but it wasn’t a sales success. Despite using the then-modern IAE V2500 engines, American Airlines CEO Bob Crandall famously characterized the MD-90 as “old technology” when he placed an exclusive supplier deal with Boeing for 737-800s and other Boeing aircraft. Photo via Google images.
ValuJet was the launch customer of McDonnell Douglas’ final commercial airliner, the MD-95. Before ValuJet could take delivery, it acquired AirTran and took the AirTran name; and Boeing merged with MDC and renamed the MD-95 the Boeing 717. Only 156 717s were built. Photo via Google images.
The DC-10 was the MDC entry into the true jumbo-jet field. Seating 250 passengers in multi-class configuration and 345 in single-class, the DC-10 was smaller than the Boeing 747. But MDC split the market with Lockheed’s nearly identical L-1011, and neither company made money. A series of deadly crashes with the DC-10 gave the airplane a black eye that prematurely suppressed sales. Photo via Google images.
MDC updated and stretched the DC-10 into the MD-11. American Airlines designed its trans-Pacific route ambitions around the airplane, but performance fell well short of guarantees. American scaled back its intended orders, going with the Boeing 777-200ER and 767-300ER for many international routes but abandoning some of its Pacific route goals for the lack of a suitable airplane. After Boeing and MDC merged in 1997, Boeing stopped production at 200 airplanes. Photo via Google Images
The MDC C-17 program was assumed by Boeing. The C-17 became the last jet to be produced at Long Beach. Boeing tried to breath life into the program by offering a commercial BC-17 freighter, but there were no takers. Photo via Google images.