Air Transport World

Whale chaser from Long Beach. (McDonnell Douglas's MD-12X Jet transport)

Forget that image of the MD-12X as McDonnell Douglas's effort to wring the last bit of range and capacity that could be extracted out of the old DC-10 carcass. The manufacturer would prefer that you think of it as the sire of an entirely new line of long-range megalifters, a line that will get only bigger and heavier as time goes by.

Still immersed in a financial bog that got a bit deeper when the U.S. Defense Department canceled the A-12 naval attack aircraft, McDonnell Douglas is betting a goodly portion of the company and its long-awaited incoming cash flow from MD-11 deliveries that a demand exists for a line that will give Boeing its first challenge at the top of the market. To soften the financial crunch, McDonnell Douglas is structuring the program deal in such a way that a number of risk-sharing partners will back that bet up front.

It was just before Farnborough that the manufacturer announced the first part of its changed philosophy toward the MD-12X, opting for an new, much-larger wing that would enable the existing family of engines on the MD-11 to push the airplane 8,000 nm with a full load (ATW, 10/90).

Now, the engine connection with the MD-11 has been severed as the company has decided to throw out the commitment to using the existing family of power plants, a decision that will require a redesign of the largest structural casting in the airplane, called the banjo, that holds the No. …

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