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29th of August 1970

The first flight with a McDonnell Douglas DC-10 (DC-10) was made on this day in 1970.

The DC-10 prototype moments before touchdown after its first flight (Picture form public domain)


In 1966 American Airlines asked aircraft manufacturers to come up with an idea for an aircraft smaller than the Boeing 747, but with the same range as the Boeing 747 and capable of operating from shorter runways. The initial design by McDonnel Douglas was a four-engined double-deck widebody with 550 seats. This idea was put in the archives pretty quickly and all efforts went into the development of the single-deck TriJet with a maximum of 399 seats. Although in a typical two-class configuration the typical seating would be for 270.

The initial design was the transcontinental version, the DC-10-10. After 929 flights and 1551 test flight hours, the FAA issued the type certificate for the DC-10 on the 29th of July 1971. With the first commercial flights by American Airlines only 7 days later. When stronger engines were fitted to the DC-10-10 it became a DC-10-15, this was a special version of the DC-10 for hot and high airports. Intercontinental versions of the DC-10 were the DC-10-30 (GE engines) and the DC-10-40 (P&W engines). On the ground, it was easy to differentiate between the Transcontinental DC-10-10/15 and the Intercontinental DC-10-30/40, the latter has an additional two-wheeled central main landing gear.

McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30 of Dutch charter airline Martinair

Several different Civil variants have been developed and built which can basically be split into an Original (short-range) version and the Long-range an overview; Original versions

  • DC-10-10, 122 built The initial version, produced from 1970 to 1981. Powered by GE CF6-6 engines. (the first civil version of the CF6 engine)

  • DC-10-10CF, 8 built A convertible passenger and cargo version

  • DC-10-15, 7 built A hot and high variant of the DC-10-10, Powered by GE CF6-50C2F engines. In fact, they were derated DC-10-30 engines.

Long-range versions

  • DC-10-30, 163 built The most built version of the DC-10. With larger fuel tanks and powered by GE CF6-50 engines.

  • DC-10-30CF, 27 built Convertible version for passenger/cargo transport.

  • DC-10-30ER, 6 built With an additional fuel tank in the rear cargo hold, this version had an extended range of 5730 nm (10.620 km), it also had a higher MTOW. With the higher weight, it also needed more powerful engines, the GE CF6-50C2B, providing 54.000 lbs (24493 kg) of thrust/

  • DC-10-30AF, 10 built All cargo version of the DC-10-30

  • DC-10-40, 42 built Originally known as the DC-10-20 it was the first long-range version of the DC-10. Powered by P&W JT9D engines. The final DC-10-40 was fitted with JT9D-20 engines producing 50.000 pounds of thrust. These were the same engines as the Boeing 747's of Northwest Orient Airlines and it was also on their request the version was renamed the DC-10-40. Aircraft for Japanese Airlines were fitted with P&W JT9D-59A engines, providing 53.000 pounds of thrust.


McDonnell Douglas DC-10-40 with its Center Main Gear not extended (Flight with the center Main Gear retracted was allowed in accordance with the (Master) Minimum Equipment List,

after special maintenance and operational procedures were applied)


Some versions of the DC-10 never left the drawing board;

  • DC-10-50 Rolls Royce RB-211-524 powered version, intended for British Airways. When BA opted for the Lockheed Tristar the development was cancelled.

  • DC-10 Twin A design proposal during the initial development of the DC-10 program.

Some specifications for the most popular version, the DC-10-30.

  • Passenger Capacity: 250-380 Passengers

  • Cargo Capacity: 4618 cubic ft (130.7 cubic m)

  • Engines (3) Maximum Thrust: 51,000 lbs (23,133 kg)

  • Fuel Capacity: 36,650 US gal (138,720 L)

  • Maximum Takeoff Weight: 572,000 lbs (259,459 kg)

  • Maximum Range: 5,900 statue miles (9,493 km)

  • Typical Cruise Speed: 600 mph (965 km/hr)

  • Wing Span: 155 ft 4 in (50.4 m)

  • Overall Length: 182 ft 3.1 in (55 m)

  • Tail Height: 58 ft 1 in (17.7 m)

  • Service Ceiling: 42,000 ft

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