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Remembering the DC-10: End of an era or good riddance?

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The DC-10, which makes its final passenger flight later, has been labelled a "death trap", hailed as a "workhorse" and even immortalised in a Clash song. (www.bbc.co.uk) More...

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LGM118
LGM118 4
There's a whole discussion that the aviation community is going to need to have about preservation. It's very unlikely that any private foundation would have the funds to keep a DC-10, 747-100 flightworthy, but what about preservation?

When it comes to trains, the big Class I railroads have actually taken a bit of a leadership role in preserving history. Union Pacific and Norfolk Southern both have steam locomotive programs. UP maintains several locomotives, and not just steam (There's a DDA40X and also an F-unit if I'm not mistaken). I'm not sure if the airlines - at least the US carriers anyways - would do something like that on a real level.

I big problem is that preservation just hasn't been valued. One of the things I've said about the Smithsonian Udvar-Hazy Center is that "It's not the number of planes they have, it's that 60 or 70 percent of them are basically airworthy or close to it." Once a plane is scrapped for parts, it's basically gone forever. Even cosmetic restoration for static display can become difficult if there's enough neglect over time.
mbv9415
mbv9415 1
LGM, UP has three E units in it's historic unit program, allof which run on the system. Norfolk Southern has F-units for its executive fleet.

Preservation is an issue.I was at an aviation museum over the weekend that needed "crew chiefs" aka volunteer leaders for most of the aircraft in its program. Alot of these aircraft are showing signs of deterioration and lack of care. I have seen where the museums want the planes that are donated, but then too late realize they don't have the resources or experience to maintain them. Back to the railroads, a museum in the north central region sold off several pieces of equipment because it determined the collection was too large. The decision was made to determine what pieces reflected the real role of that museum/historical society.
LGM118
LGM118 1
Thanks for the clarification about the historic programs.

The costs on preservation are pretty high, and the real risk is that over time, history will really be lost to the ages. I'm not some crazy old person (not that all old people are crazy) saying that either; I'm 24 years old. My big fear is that years from now, people will look back and wish there had been more of an effort to preserve the early jet aircraft.
TimCMH
TimCMH 2
The article leaves out United 232 in Sioux City, Iowa from 1989. I was surprised this crash wasn't mentioned in the history of incidents. That crash was an excellent example of CRM at its finest.
jimquinndallas
Jim Quinn 1
I don't know how many KC-10's are being used, but I'd think that there are quite a few at this point, and does anyone know how many DC-10's are still hauling freight? And what in the world happened to the Lockheed L-1011? It didn't seem to stick around for very long.
Checkguy
DA SHAFE 1
L-1011 was a great plane, extensively used by DL and TWA, among others. There was a book called the "Sporty Game" that talked about Lockheed's insistence on using Rolls Royce engines, and at least one US airline wanted to buy American made engines (even though they otherwise preferred the L-1011)they ultimately decided on the DC-10, thus depriving Lockheed of the critical mass that they needed for the L-1011.

There is also the story about Fred Smith at FedEx buying up DC10's at bargain proces after the series of crashes.
JENNYJET
I would like to add to this chat that the UK Royal Air Force have been and are still using ex British Airways and Pan Am frames although even these are being retired in favour of A330 MRTT.

The DC-10 and L1011 were unique in being a three engined widebody passenger aircraft that met a market that did not fit the much bigger B747 of the day. I shall miss seeing these characters at airports because the current fleets are bland and sterile and would excite no one other than the dead noise protesters and aviation haters of this world.
lahtiji
lahtiji 1
Can I just suggest we add the descriptor "workhorse" to the list of aviation news clichés? Is there any airplane out there that an airline doesn't want to have flying as frequently or as long a distance as it can? The only showhorse airliner that I can think of in the last 50 years is Concorde.
LGM118
LGM118 2
Airlines have always worked their planes heavily. Yes, in the past 30 or so years utilization per day has become a much more scrutinized metric, but airlines generally worked their planes heavily before that.

In order to call a plane a "showhorse", I'd say it has to meet three criteria:
1) Generally finds its way onto prime routes despite some significant mismatch where a different aircraft type would be comparatively "better" across several metrics.
2) Several airline operators must advertise it uniquely i.e. Having said aircraft type is notable to the public.
3) Must have set some kind of new precedent "showhorses" aren't just "better versions" of something else.

I'd say that with those criteria, there's three or four airliners beside Concorde that would meet that bill:
1. Boeing 747-100. They put it on transcontinental US flights in an era when the 707, 727, and DC-8 existed. Also, it was one of three jet aircraft for which Pan Am was the launch customer. The other two were the 707 and the 747SP. Also it was the first ever widebody. Showhorse, no question.

2. Airbus A380. A showhorse if there ever was one. There are a couple of routes that could potentially need that kind of capacity. Probably the only argument against the A380 being a "showhorse" is that it still hasn't flown the New York-London route.

3. Boeing 787 (it might be too early to call, but I suspect that long-term it's [i]not[/i] going to end up being "just a 767 replacement." That, and I think airlines will continue to put it on their best long routes for years to come). It's the second airliner here that hasn't flown the New York-London route, but it's seeing all kinds of use on the Asia routes that are the 2000's equivalent of JFK-LHR.
JoshZ
Josh Zylks 1
To your #3, while the 787 isn't on JFK-LHR, I believe BA is utilizing it some on EWR-LHR.
JENNYJET
They are indeed!
LGM118
LGM118 1
History is very fickle though. As Fiorello La Guardia put it, "Newark is not New York", and unfortunately, if you want your plane to be remembered, it has to fly from New York to London (pre WWII aircraft are excluded). Lockheed COnstellation vs. Boeing 377:
1. The Stratocruiser had to stop in Gander to refuel
2. 856 Constellations to only 56 Stratocruisers built.
ccarlson3
Curt Carlson 1
I flew the DC-10, both the -30 and -40 series for Northwest Airlines as Captain and F/O and as an O.E. and Line Check Pilot/Instructor. Loved the airplane. Cockpit was nice and quiet and a joy to fly. High speeds for climb and T/O and landing due to the relatively small wing. Only thing I didn't like was the wing engines having to be so close to the fuselage due to the small rudder with the straight engine setting thru the tail. Would love to fly it again. My how time flys....

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