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Dana Air Fleet: The Safety Record of the MD-80

June 3, 2012

The Dana Air fleet includes the following aircraft: 4 McDonnell Douglas MD-83.

The MD-80 and its variants are among the last extant reminders that there once was another American manufacturer, McDonnell Douglas, to compete with Boeing and Airbus for jet orders from the airlines.

Measured by accident data alone, the MD-80 is considered to be one of the safest planes in the sky. According to Boeing Commercial Airplanes, the plane has a fatal hull loss rate — meaning a crash involving fatalities — of 0.34 per one million departures, and an overall hull-loss, or crash, rate of 0.52 per million departures.

By comparison, the average record for all commercial jets is 0.89 fatal hull losses per million departures, and an overall rate of 1.64 hull losses per million departures, Boeing said.

The figures include today’s crash in Madrid of an MD-82, Spanair Flight JK5022, which appears to have killed more than 150 people, according to Spanish authorities.

The crash comes only a few months after American Airlines’ battle with the Federal Aviation Administration over the inspection of its fleet of MD80s, which put the plane in a spotlight with American travelers last spring.

The MD-80 has its roots in the 1960s, when it was developed as a descendant of the DC-9, which in turn was a companion to the DC-8 jet, one of the first airliners of the jet era. The DC-9, still in use by Northwest Airlines, was designed to be used on shorter flights; the Douglas Aircraft half of McDonnell-Douglas developed the MD-80 as a second generation of the DC-9. It was originally called the Super 80, and you still see that name used by American in its timetables.

It has been a workhorse for a wide variety of airlines, from SwissAir and Austrian Airlines the first to fly it, to American, Delta, Alitalia and Scandinavian Air Systems, the owner of Spanair. Nearly 1,200 were built in various configurations between 1980 and 1999, the year when Boeing, which had merged with McDonnell-Douglas two years earlier, decided to discontinue production and focus instead on its own short-range jet, the Boeing 737.

During its lifetime, the MD-80 family has had some high-profile problems:

– In 1987, an MD-82 crashed just outside the airport in Detroit, killing 156 people including two on the ground. The only survivor was a four-year-old girl, who was found strapped into her seat in the crash debris. The National Transportation Stabilization Board concluded that the pilots of the plane had incorrectly deployed the plane’s wing flaps, meaning the jet was not in the proper position to fly. A faulty warning system failed to alert the pilots to the problem.

– The left engine on a Delta Air Lines MD-88 failed on takeoff in Pensacola, Fla, in 1996, causing pieces of the engine to pierce the fuselage and penetrate the cabin, killing two of the plane’s 137 passengers.

– In January 2000, an Alaska Airlines MD-83 crashed into the Pacific Ocean off Point Magu, Calif., killing 88 people. The pilot had declared an emergency and was trying to get to Los Angeles International Airport when the accident took place. The safety board said improper maintenance was to blame for the crash.

– The most recent attention paid to the plane was not crash related: Last spring, American canceled thousands of flights and grounded its 300 MD-80s to check that wiring bundles were properly secured inside the planes’ wheel wells. The groundings prompted a sparring match between the airline and the F.A.A., which American contended had unfairly changed the rules for how carriers should respond to safety directives.

Last week, the F.A.A. proposed civil penalties of $7.1 million against American for flying two MD-80s in December when it knew they were not airworthy. American said it disagreed with the finding and called the penalties “excessive.” – Atlasjet Airlines MB 83 Isparta Turkey 30th Nov 2007 crash

2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 4, 2012 14:25

    The management of Dana Airlines has issued a statement commiserating with the families of the 153 victims of the tragic crash of Flight No. 9J-922 at Ishaga located in the outskirts of Lagos metropolis on Sunday.

    None of the 146 passengers, along with a Flight Engineer, two pilots and four cabin crew members on board the flight survived, in what most Nigerians have described as a Black Sunday for the country’s aviation industry.

    President Goodluck Jonathan has already declared a three-day national mourning commencing today for the repose of the souls 153 victims, during which period the Nigerian flag would be flown at half-mast in all public buildings and institutions.

    The airline in a sympathy message by its Chief Executive Officer, Jacky Hathiramani, expressed sadness over the tragedy, saying it is doing everything to assist the families of the victims bear their losses.

    According to airline, a 24-hour Call Centre service has been initiated, while an information centre is to be set up at the Murtala Muhammed Airport 2 to look after their needs and keep them informed as quickly as possible.

    It gave the contact numbers as 01-2809888 and 07003593262.

    Meanwhile, the airline has cancelled all flights scheduled for Monday. It urges passengers to call 0700 359 3262 to re-schedule or get details for refund.


    The Dana Air family is deeply saddened by the tragic loss of the passengers and crew of Flight 9J-922 of Sunday, June 3, 2012. The aircraft, with Registration Number 5N-RAM, departed Abuja for Lagos with 146 passengers on board. 1 Dana Air Flight Engineer, 2 Pilots and 4 Cabin Crew were also aboard the flight.

    We extend our deepest sympathies to the families and friends of the deceased, and we are doing everything we can to assist them in this extremely difficult time. A 24hr Call Centre service has been initiated and we have also set up an information centre at MMA2 to look after their needs and keep them as quickly informed as possible.
    Contact Numbers: 01-2809888 and 07003593262.
    An investigation into the cause of the accident got under way immediately, under the guidance of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), who are being assisted by investigators from the U.S. National Safety Transportation Board (NTSB). Dana Air is cooperating fully and assisting the investigation in every possible way.

    In accordance with international protocol governing aviation accident investigations, all information about the investigation will come from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority. Dana Air will however provide information relating to the flight itself and updates on steps being taken.

    Once again, we at Dana Air extend our profoundest condolences.

    Jacky Hathiramani,
    Chief Executive Officer

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