Boeing 717

B717 in new Boeing colours []

Douglas, faced with declining sales of it’s DC-8, and stiff competition from Boeing’s 737 for it’s DC-9, sought a way-out through merger with McDonnell in 1967. Following the merger, McDonnell Douglas (MDD) continued to struggle financially. Their DC-10 competed with Lockheed’s TriStar for a share of the niche, wide body, tri-jet market with the predictable result, both companies lost massive amounts of capital, the latter retreating from the commercial airliner market forever. In 1972 the DC-8 production ended, leaving only the long-running DC-9.
Fortunately this sold in large numbers: almost 1000 were built and so MDD developed the model further. The result was the MD-80 Series which sold over 1100 models until the early 1990s. MDD launched another major revision, the MD-90, but dissappointingly ony sold 117. The MD-95 (dubbed MD-87-105 later to become the B717), was announced in 1991 after many, long studies. It was conceived as a 100-130 seat, re-shortened stretched-MD-80, and had much in common with its earlier DC-9-30 predecesor, using the wing, tailplane and tailcone of the DC-9-34, the enlarged fin of the MD-87 and new-technology BMW Rolls-Royce BR700 turbofans.

McDonnell Douglas first announced the MD-95 in 1991, as a joint venture with China’s CATIC. Northwest Airlines agreed to evaluate the type which was then going to be powered by Pratt & Whitney engines. Ultimately the plan fell through and MDD began anew, approaching the airlines in 1994.
MDD struggled to find a launch customer but finally announced an order for 50, with 50 options, from Florida's ValuJet (now known as AirTran Airlines), on 19 October 1995. The decision for production to go-ahead with only the backing of a single customer (and a budget, start-up airline at that) was indicative of the trouble MDD was having selling aircraft.

In December 1996, Boeing made a $13 billion offer for McDonnell Douglas and in August 1997 the takeover was complete. Boeing was quick to drop the entire MDD commercial product line, save only the MD-95, which was re-named the Boeing 717, and (for a short while longer) the freighter version of the MD-11.
This decision was greeted with surprise as Boeing had already devoted the Model 717 designation to the KC-135 Stratotanker family. The production version became the 717-200, with Boeing reserving the 717-100 designation for a possible future 85-seat version.

The Boeing 717-200 twinjet is Boeing’s smallest commercial airliner and is specifically designed for the short-haul, high frequency 100-passenger airline market. It faced competition from Boeing's own 737-600 and emerging designs such as the Bombardier BRJX, Avro RJX and Airbus A318. 
The first 717-200 was rolled out on 10 June 1998 and made its maiden flight on 2 September. Four aircraft were dedicated the nine-month flight test programme. After joint US and European FAA/JAA certification, launch customer, AirTran Airways, took delivery of its first aircraft in September 1999. The first European customer was Bavaria International Aircraft Company.

Two versions are available - the basic gross weight (BGW) and high gross weight (HGW) 717 with two 18,500- to 21,000-pound-thrust Rolls-Royce 715 high-bypass-ratio engines. Major assemblies for the 717 come from foreign contractors including Alenia, KAL Aerospace, Hyundai, ShinMaywa, IAI and many others.

At first, Boeing had no more success selling the 717 than McDonnell Douglas. By mid-1999 sales had climbed to 115 firm orders and 100 options. Against this background of sluggish demand, suggestions grew that Boeing would terminate the programme - the only one of the former McDonnell Douglas airliners that it had elected to keep.
Following the dramatic slump in airline traffic caused by reaction to the September 11th incident in the USA, Boeing conducted a review of the type's future studying the 85-seat 717-100X and 130-seat 717-300X concepts closely, where-upon it was decided to proceed, despite the lack of orders. Boeing had confidence in the 717 and the long-term future of the 100-seat market. Considering the existing worldwide fleet is largely made up of aging twinjets with relatively high operating costs, Boeing predicted a requirement for 3,000 airplanes over 20 years.

After 19 worldwide 717 sales in 2000, and just 6 in 2001, Boeing took 32 717 orders in 2002, despite the massive industry downturn. Several potential competitors disappeared, leaving Boeing, Airbus (with the A318), and Embraer (with the ERJ 195) competing for orders.

In January 2005, Boeing announced that it planned to end production of the 717, to the suprise of few, after it had met all its outstanding orders. Boeing officials cited slow sales for the aircraft's demise. The last 717 is expected to roll off the assembly line in May, 2006 at Boeing's production facility in Long Beach, California. Increased competition from regional jets manufactured by Embraer and Bombardier took a heavy toll on sales in the last several years before the announcement was made. The begining of the end came in December 2003 when Boeing lost a US$2.7 billion contract from Air Canada, who chose the Embraer ERJ and Canadair CRJ over the 717.

Incidentaly, launch customer ValuJet, now known as AirTran, met with considerable success and are now operating 73 717-200 aircraft, as well as 5 new 737-700s. They continue to accept deliveries on both the 717 and the 737.

Country of origin

United States of America

First Flight

717-200: Sept. 2, 1998

Entered Service

September 1999 with AirTran Airways




717-200 (BGW): two Rolls Royce BR715-A1-30 rated at 18,500 lbs (82.3 kN) thrust each.

717-200 (HGW): two Rolls Royce BR715-C1-30 rated at 21,000 lbs (93.4 kN) thrust each.


717-200 (BGW): maximum level speed 0.77 Mach (504 mph, 811 km/h); service ceiling 36,000 ft (10972 m); design range, with 106 passengers and reserves 1,581 miles (2,545 km)

717-200 (HGW): as (BGW) except; design range, with 106 passengers and reserves 2,371 miles (3,815 km)


717-200(BGW) : operating, empty 69,830 lb (31675 kg) ; maximum take-off 114,000 lb (51,710 kg)

717-200(HGW): operating, empty 70,790 lb (32110 kg); maximum take-off 121,000 lb (54,885 kg)


717-200: span 93 ft 5 in (28.47 m); height 29 ft 1 in (8.86 m); length 124 ft (37.80 m)


717-200 : two (flight deck), standard layout for 106 passengers

Related Links

Flight Sim Website

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 Model by: SGA (Eric Cantu)



Features full moving parts, including ailerons, flaps, elevators, rotating engine fans, turning wheels, spoilers, passenger doors, cargo doors, rear airstairs, thrust reversers, other control surfaces, transparent windows.

Planecrazy Rating

   Amazing to look at, and a joy to fly.

Additional Info

Highly recommended is a panel by Ken Mitchell (Filename: at

Authentic sound set by Erick Cantu (Filename: at

B717 in old House colours []