MIAMI – Today in Aviation, Boeing changed the name of the MD-95 jetliner to the 717–200 after the company merged with McDonnell Douglas in 1997.

As Boeing’s KC-135 Stratotanker tanker was named 717-100 and its commercial airliner, the 717-200, the lack of widespread use of the name 717 made it open for the MD-95 to be rebranded.

AirTran Airways Boeing 717. Photo: Wiki Commons

The Boeing 717-200

The Boeing 717-200 twinjet was developed specifically for the high-frequency, short-haul, 100-passenger airline market. The program was launched in 1995 with an order from AirTran Airways (FL), and the aircraft soon became known to customers for its outstanding economics, performance and reliability.

Capable of seating up to 134 passengers, the 717 has a design range of 2,060 nautical miles (3,820 km). It is powered by two Rolls-Royce BR715 turbofan engines mounted at the rear of the fuselage.

View inside cockpit at sunset. Photo: Phil Wilco737/Airways – @wilco737

Most industry observers predicted that Boeing would cancel production of the MD-95, a derivative of the DC-9 family, after McDonnell Douglas merger, and Boeing agreed. However, in the end it, went ahead with the concept under a new name, the Boeing 717.

Although the Boeing 720 and the 727 came after the 707, Boeing did not rule out the 717 model designation, the company’s model number for the C-135 Stratolifter military transport and KC-135 Stratotanker tanker aircraft.

Before it was updated to meet consumer demands, the 717 was also used to support an early version of the 720 for airlines.

Douglas Aircraft Company Long Beach Plant, 3855 Lakewood Boulevard, Long Beach, Los Angeles County, CA. Photo. Library of Congress

Boeing 717 Assembly Facilities

Prior to the transition to commercial airplane production after the WWII, the Douglas Aircraft Co.’s facility in Long Beach Airport, California, produced nearly 10,000 aircraft for the war. In 1967, Douglas merged with the McDonnell Aircraft Co., forming the McDonnell Douglas Corp.

McDonnell Douglas announced on November 8, 1994, that the final assembly of the aircraft would be withdrawn from the long-standing Douglas plant at Long Beach. Instead, to assemble the type, it picked a modifications and maintenance service, Dalfort Aviation in Dallas, Texas.

MD-11 Cockpit Instruments. Photo: Phil Wilco737/Airways – @wilco737

Management and unions in Long Beach reached an agreement in early 1995 to keep wage rates down for the life of the MD-95 program and McDonnell Douglas cancelled the Dalfort preliminary agreement.

However, the final assembly of the Boeing 717 was carried out at the Long Beach facility, opened by Douglas Aircraft Co. in 1941 as part of President Roosevelt’s Arsenal of Democracy, an order for the nation’s factories to interrupt civilian production and help make equipment for wartime.

In September 1998, the type entered into a rigorous flight test program and obtained joint certification a year later. It was the first commercial aircraft to be given a United States Concurrent and Cooperative Certification by the Federal Administration of Aviation (FAA) and the Joint European Aviation Authorities (JAA).

Photo: Luca Flores/Airways

Updates and End of Deliveries

In October 2000, the FAA and JAA jointly approved the Boeing 717’s first major update to the flight control computer and flight management system of the airplane.

In September 1999, the launch customer, FL, of Orlando, Florida, took delivery of the first 717. A total of 156 717s were built by Boeing before production ended.

In a ceremony before thousands of workers, retirees and dignitaries in Long Beach on May 23, 2006, Boeing delivered the final two 717s to Midwest Airlines (YX) and FL. The Long Beach factory produced more than 15,000 airplanes.

Featured image: Boeing. Article source: Boeing.