Air Transport World

Douglas's MD-10.96. (McDonnell Douglas's MD-11 airplane)

It was a blow that McDonnell Douglas really didn't need. The MD-11 already had taken some hits from American Airlines, first over its initial teething problems with the avionics, then with its range figures. When Singapore Airlines dropped its reserved slots in favor of the Airbus A340, it was just a bit much. And the fact that the press kept referring to the Singapore action as a cancellation of orders rather than just giving up slots on the assembly line didn't help.

Unfortunately, there was no getting around the fact that the final range figures for the MD-11 just didn't quite meet the promises made to customers such as American and Singapore Airlines.

Douglas Aircraft Co. had promised an aircraft that would carry a 61,000lb. payload a distance of 7,000 nm. What the company produced was an aircraft that will carry 48,500 lb. a distance of 7,000 nm, or 61,000 lb. a total of 6,500 nm. The specifications fell roughly 4% short of Singapore Airlines' requirement.

We just let ourselves get taken in by overly enthusiastic salesmen," said Russell L. Ray, jr., then VP/GM commercial marketing for Douglas before leaving to head Pan Am. "Losing the Singapore order affects us psychologically and their going to a competitor is certainly a negative. However, it has not had an impact on sales. In fact, Thailand [Thai International] has just signed for three additional MD-11s. "


Swissair, the industry's biggest MD-11 user, also is on record as stating that the aircraft is doing what it is supposed to do and "has come up to our expectations." (See related article, page 44).

Ray noted that while Singapore has announced orders for the A340 (ATW, 10/91), "the A340 has not been flown yet. They may change their mind again." He also noted that with the modification programs going on with the engine manufacturers and Douglas itself, "by mid-'93, we'll be able to meet the original aircraft specifications."

Three programs, in fact, are under way to improve the aircraft's performance. …

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