MIAMI — DC-10 lovers rejoice! The last passenger DC-10 in the world will remain in regular service into January of 2014. Biman Bangladesh confirmed the latest changes to Airchive this morning.
CEO Kevin Steele told Airchive “It will need to be used for another month yet, as delivery of our dry leased B777-200ERs has been delayed. But I stress that it will not be scheduled on any specific route with 100% guarantee, it is a moving situation.”
The last regularly scheduled Douglas DC-10 passenger flight in the world had been set to take place today, December 7th, 2013. The airline confirmed the news to Airchive, stating yesterday that “This is correct that tomorrow is the last day of schedule flight, still this aircraft will remain as standby.” Reports surfaced late last night from AirlineRoute claiming that the airplane had not been removed from their schedule, showing it running Dhaka-Hong Kong and Dhaka-Kuwait for several weeks. Biman has not confirmed either.
The national carrier of Bangladesh has been the last in the world to operate the iconic tri-jet for several years. But as new, state-of-the-art Boeing 777-300ERs have been delivered the carrier’s modest fleet of DC-10s have slowly been retired. The penultimate frame was retired recently in late November.
The carrier did not say whether any special celebrations were planned for the final flight, whenever that now takes place, but did note that they are planning a retirement tour in 2014. According to their website, the aircraft will be flown to the USA via Birmingham, UK. The flight from Dhaka to Birmingham will be available for sale, according to the statement. Several tour flights over the UK are said to be a possibility. Eventually the airplane will be flown onward to the US where it will be donated to a museum. Which museum is presently unknown, though unconfirmed rumors place Seattle’s Museum of Flight into the mix.
The History of the First Widebody Tri-Jet
The DC-10 made its first flight on August 29th, 1970, and entered service nearly a year later on August 5th, 1971 with American Airlines. It became a popular airplane on medium and late long haul routes, particularly for carriers looking for the range of the new Boeing 747 but not the capacity.
Unfortunately the airplane had a rough start. Several high profile incidents and crashes in the 1970s earned the DC-10 the nickname “Death Cruiser”. A handful of the accidents were found to be the result of a design flaw in the aircraft’s cargo doors which were later fixed.
But the most damaging crash came in the skies over Chicago in 1979 when an American Airlines’ DC-10 lost an engine on take-off from O’Hare, causing the airplane to roll over and nose dive in full view of the airport concourse. Despite the cause eventually being determined to be improper maintenance, the aircraft’s reputation with the public was severely damaged for years.
Despite turbulent beginnings the airplane went on to be a successful addition to fleets around the world for decades. The last airplane, number 446, rolled off the production line in 1989.
Unfortunately, though, it did not take long before it began to see itself replaced by increasingly efficient twin jets such as the Boeing 767 and 777 and later on the Airbus A330. The last US-based operator was Northwest, who retired their DC-10s in 2007. By 2008 the planes were leaving passenger fleets at a prodigious rate, eventually leaving Biman as the sole operator.
While paying passengers may not be able to get on board for much longer, folks will likely be able to place their packages on board a vintage DC-10 for years to come. The type still remains popular with cargo companies worldwide, such as FedEx, the largest DC-10 operator on the globe.
The departure of the DC-10 from the world of aviation brings us all one step closer to the final retirement of the tri-jets for good. The DC-10’s replacement, the MD-11, is still flying for Dutch airline KLM. It will be retired from service in late 2014. Once gone, the era of the tri-jet will be over.