Boeing 717

How a Boeing jet no one wanted became most sought after

Boeing 717 The Boeing 717-200 went out of production in 2006. Only 156 of the planes have been built. A decade later, the airlines that operate the 717 want more of them.  On May 23, 2006, Boeing delivered the last two 717-200 jetliners to customers at its Long Beach, California factory.  It marked to the end of a program filled with promise but that had ultimately failed to capture the interest of airlines. Even Boeing’s well-oiled sales operation could only manage to muster up 156 orders for the little 100-seat, short-haul-airliner. Currently, the 717 is operated primarily by four airlines; Delta , Hawaiian , Qantas , and Spanish low-cost carrier Volotea. With 91 of the planes in its fleet, Delta is the by far the type’s largest operator.

Incredibly, a decade after being axed from Boeing’s lineup, airlines are scouring the planet looking for available Boeing 717s. “These guys keep begging me to give them more 717s,” Dinesh Keskar, Boeing’s senior vice president of sales for the Asia Pacific and India , told Business Insider. “But that era over and it’s not going to happen.” So how did a plane Boeing couldn’t sell become an aircraft that airlines can’t get enough of? The difficult life of the 717 Well, there are several reasons, but first some background. Even though the 717 carries both the Boeing name and company’s signature 7X7 naming scheme, it’s not actually a Boeing. Rub on that Boeing logo with a brillo pad and some soapy water and you’ll soon find the words McDonnell Douglas imprinted on the plane. APIn 1997, Boeing acquired its long-time rival McDonnell Douglas for $13 billion. At the time, McDonnell Douglas produced the MD-11 wide-body and the MD-80/90 narrow-body.

Soon after the merger, Boeing phased out all of MD’s commercial airliners. But, it spared a new variant of the iconic DC-9 airliner called the MD-95 that was set to enter service in 1999. (The MD-80/90 were also variants of the DC-9.) To make it fit better into the Boeing’s portfolio of products, the MD-95 was re-branded the 717-200. However, that wasn’t enough to convince to convince airlines to buy in. Even though it carried the Boeing name, it was still a plane designed and engineered by a different company with differing thinking and philosophies. Thus, the 717 was an orphan that didn’t belong to any of Boeing’s product families. “We have the 737MAX 7,-8,-9, and -10. We have a family,” Keskar said. “You talk to others and they’ll tell you that family has a lot of value.” For airlines, there’s great financial incentive to have aircraft of varying sizes and roles being operated by the same crew and serviced by the same maintenance teams using the same spare parts. There’s a whole of synergy there. Even though the McDonnell Douglas DC-9/MD-80/MD-90 still served as the backbone of many major US airlines like American, Northwest, and Delta, none of the big boys would take the bate. In fact, when American acquired Trans […]

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