Delta retires last DC-9, oldest plane in US fleet

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 6, 2014 at 4:19 pm •  Published: January 6, 2014
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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Delta Air Lines is retiring its last DC-9s, the oldest passenger plane in the fleet of the big U.S. airlines.

The final passenger flight was planned for Minneapolis to Atlanta on Monday evening.

McDonnell Douglas delivered the first DC-9s in 1965, and eventually built 976 of them. The plane was noteworthy at the time because it was small enough to fly to airports in smaller cities that had previously been served by propeller-driven planes. Its low-to-the-ground profile put its cargo door at about waist height, so ground crews at smaller airports could load it without special equipment.

The plane flew for Delta, Continental and several smaller regional airlines. The one slated to fly the final scheduled flight on Monday was built in 1978 and went to North Central Airlines. Its fate after that mirrors the merger wave that rolled through the whole airline industry. A combination of North Central and other airlines formed Republic Airlines, which merged with Northwest Airlines in the 1980s. Delta bought Northwest in 2008.

Most airlines retired the DC-9s by the 1990s. But instead of retiring them, Northwest in 1995 refurbished their interiors to squeeze more flying out of them. Federal rules don't limit how many years a plane can fly, only how many takeoffs and landings. As long as it stayed under those limits, the DC-9s could keep flying.



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