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Aircraft of the Month: Boeing 717

It may not be hot off the assembly line or a next-gen aircraft like some of our recent ACOTM entries, but the Boeing 717 has a fascinating history, and will start making weekly flights between Vancouver and Los Angeles every Saturday starting this summer. This makes it the first and only appearance of this aircraft on the runways of YVR, and we always celebrate the appearance of rare birds!

The Boeing 717 is a twin-engine, single-aisle jet airliner that was designed and originally marketed by McDonnell Douglas as the MD-95 as part of the DC-9 family. The first order was placed in October 1995 by ValuJet Airlines (later AirTran Airways); McDonnell Douglas and Boeing merged in 1997 prior to production.

After McDonnell Douglas was acquired by Boeing in August 1997 some thought Boeing would cancel development of the MD-95, but Boeing went forward with the design under a new name, Boeing 717. It appeared that Boeing had skipped the 717 model designation when the 720 and the 727 followed the 707, but the 717 name was the company's model number for the KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft. The designator 717 had also been used to promote an early version of the 720 to airlines before it was modified to meet market demands. A Boeing historian notes that the Air Force tanker was designated "717-100" and the commercial airliner designated "717-200". The lack of a widespread use of the 717 name left it available for rebranding the MD-95.

Boeing's decision to go ahead with the 717 paid off. Early operators were pleased with the reliability and decided to order more. Boeing marketed the 717 to a number of large airlines, including Northwest Airlines, who operated a large fleet of DC-9 aircraft, and Lufthansa. Boeing also studied a higher-capacity version of the 717, to have been called 717-300, but decided against it, fearing that it would encroach on the company's 737-700 model. Production of the original 717 continued. Boeing continued to believe that the 100-passenger market would be lucrative enough to support both the 717 and the 737-600.

Production of the 717 ceased in May 2006 after 156 were built. There were still 154 Boeing 717 aircraft in service as of July 2016, one of which will soar in to YVR starting July 1!

Specifications

Cockpit crew: 2
Passengers: 134 (1-class, maximum), 117 (1class, typical), 106 (2 class, typical)
Length: 37.8 metres
Wingspan: 28.47 metres
Tail Height: 8.92 metres
Empty weight: 30,617 kilograms
Ceiling: 11,300 metres
Cruising Speed: 811 km/h
Range: 2,645 kilometres
Engines: Rolls Rpyce BR715-A1-30