Hey there, welcome back to the long overdue 6th part to PoTP! Today I will be covering the DC-10, in light of it coming to the game soon.
Specifications taken from Wikipedia:
DC-10-10 DC-10-15 DC-10-30 DC-10-4
Cockpit crew: Three
Seating: 380 (maximum, exit limit)
Cargo (freighter variant) 22 LD7 pallets 23 LD7 pallets
Fuselage length 170 ft 6 in (51.97 m)
Height 58 ft 1 in (17.7 m)
Wingspan 155 ft 4 in (47.34 m) 165 ft 4 in (50.4 m)
Fuselage width 19 ft 9 in (6.02 m)
Fuselage height 19 ft 9 in (6.02 m)
Max interior width 18 ft 2 in (5.54 m)
Operating empty weight 240,171 lb (108,940 kg) 266,191 lb (120,742 kg) 270,213 lb (122,567 kg)
Maximum take-off weight 430,000 lb (195,045 kg) 455,000 lb (206,385 kg) 572,000 lb (259,459 kg) 555,000 lb (251,701 kg)
Cruise speed, typical Mach 0.82
(564 mph, 908 km/h, 490 kt)
Cruise speed, maximum Mach 0.88
(610 mph, 982 km/h, 530 kt)
Maximum range, loaded 3,800 miles (6,116 km) 4,350 mi (7,000 km) 6,600 mi (10,622 km) 5,750 mi (9,254 km)
Fuel capacity, maximum 21,700 U.S. gal (82,134 L) 26,647 U.S. gal (100,859 L) 36,650 U.S. gal (138,720 L) 36,650 U.S. gal (138,720 L)
Takeoff run on MTOW 8,612 ft (2,625 m) 7,257 ft (2,212 m) 9,341 ft (2,847 m) 9,242 ft (2,817 m)
Service ceiling 42,000 ft (12,802 m)
Engine model (x 3) GE CF6-6D GE CF6-50C2F GE CF6-50C PW JT9D-59A
Engine thrust (x 3) 40,000 lbf (177.9 kN) 46,500 lbf (206.8 kN) 51,000 lbf (226.9 kN) 53,000 lbf (235.8 kN)
The McDonnell Douglas DC-10 was meant as a response to Lockheed’s L-1011 trijet. Both planes came from a 1966 American Airlines requirement for a widebody jet with the range of the 747 but with the ability to use the large majority of runways at the time, considering that the 747 needed major modifications to existing airports before it could service it. It also needed much longer runways, which AA did not have at all the airports it wanted to serve. Therefore, the plane became a trijet to meet this requirement.
First flying on August 29 1970, the DC-10-10 was launched with orders from AA and United. It got its type certificate on July 29, 1971 before entering service with AA on August 5th on the same year. Unlike the L-1011, it was powered by General Electric CF6 engines, meaning it did not have to suffer through the problems that the RB211 on the Lockheed had to face.
The interesting about the DC-10 was that instead of having the engine in the fuselage like the Boeing 727 and the L-1011 connected through an S-duct, MD opted for a “banjo frame” design, where the engine was mounted on top of the tail. This meant that additional passengers could be carried as there was now more space inside the plane. This was an advantage over the L-1011 with the S-duct as it could have international capabilities, not realised with the L-1011 until the -500 version, which was too little too late.
The DC-10-30 was the first version of the DC-10 specially built for international operations. It had a extended range of 6220 miles compared to the 3800 miles of the -10. The series 20 model was later changed to a -40 at the request of Northwest.
The intake of an Iberia DC-10-30. Note the dark lines marking out the banjo frames and the shape of the inlet- other DC-10s look slightly different…
This is the intake from a NW DC-10-40. So as it turns out, even the DC-10s had the bulged banjo frames!
I won’t really be touching much on the Death Cruiser part of the name, but I do feel that this needs to be cleared up. Even though statistically the DC-10 is one of the most dangerous passenger airliners built, I do not feel that it can be considered “unsafe” in any way. Granted, the L-1011 was a much better aircraft, but the DC-10 cannot be totally faulted. Here’s why.
Cargo Door Latch
In essence, the cargo door on the DC-10 was built to extend outwards instead of inwards. This would mean more space to carry cargo as the space directly behind the door could be used, unlike planes with plug type doors. However, this meant that if the latch was incorrectly fitted, the door was at higher risk of being blown out. As per a design standpoint, this would not be a problem as long as the door was closed properly every single time. The only problem with that was that it wasn’t, leading to AA96, then eventually Turkish 981 with the loss of all on board. Both accidents were caused by ground crew not fully locking the pins due to the design making them looked like they were safely latched even though they weren’t. After a mandated FAA fix, the problems were solved.
Engines Blowing Themselves to Bits and other turbofan related maladies
Due to the lack of a manual cable backup, in the occasion that all the hydraulics were lost, it would have been impossible to control the plane. This was deemed as highly unlikely, therefore none was provided.
On the 19th of July 1989, United 232 suffered a loss of pressure in all 3 hydraulic systems after a fan disk failure caused shrapnel to cut through the lines, rendering the plane uncontrollable. Due to the skill of the flight crew who managed to bring the plane to a crash landing on the runway, 185 of the 296 people on board were saved from near certain death. The fix for this was to have fuses on the hydraulic systems so that in case of a loss of pressure, the plane would retain the hydraulics and remain controllable.
Further back in 1979 however, AA flight 191 crashed after the number 1 engine separated from the wing during takeoff. This caused the hydraulics to sever and the leading edge slats lost pressure as a result. This would not have been a problem, but the crew’s training meant that they needed to bring the speed down to V2. This, coupled with the loss of the slats stalled the wing, causing the plane to flip over and crash. It was unfortunate that the lines on the left wing were also controlling the captain’s stick shaker which the co-pilot did not have. This lack of warning along with asymmetrical lift conditions led to the crash of the plane.
In conclusion, if many of these incidents had happened on a L-1011, there was the possibility that it would never have happened. However, this can be attributed to Lockheed over-designing their planes rather than Douglas being too careless. Could the plane have been built better? Yes. Would the plane have been as successful if it had taken longer to implement these? Possibly not, but nobody knows, so stop harping over it!
The lesser known DC-10 variant, this is basically a DC-10 with the newer MD-11 cockpit and wiring as well as a common type rating between the two aircraft.
The older DC-10 cockpit with the old steam gauges.
The newer cockpit taken from the MD-11. Note the MD-10 designation on the yoke.
Even though it shared the cockpit and interchangeable type rating, there is apparently a huge difference in the way both planes handle, due to the smaller horizontal stabiliser on the MD-11, but that’s a story for another PoTP!
Even though the DC-10 is a very old aircraft, many are still flying today as MD-10s. The most well known would probably be FedEx, who has a large fleet of MD-10s and MD-11s. Also notable is the Orbis DC-10, which serves as a hospital for use in third world countries where the proper equipment may not be available. It has been retired as of 2016 and replaced with a newer former FedEx MD-10.
Sorry if this edition is shorter than normal, but I’ll make up for it with an extra long one next week!
Have a great week ahead, and see you in Part 7!