In addition to the luxury and spaciousness inherent in its wide cabin, the three-engine DC-10 incorporated improvements in propulsion, aerodynamics, structure, avionics, flight control systems and environmental compatibility that advanced industry standards of the time.
The DC-10 was designed and built in Long Beach, CA, by Douglas Aircraft Company (Now the Long Beach Division of Boeing Commercial Airplanes). Production began in January 1968 with initial deliveries in 1971. Production continued through 1989, with 386 commercial DC-10s and 60 KC-10 tanker/cargo models delivered.
In all, six commercial models of the DC-10 were developed. All versions of the tri-jet transport accommodate from 250 passengers, in a mixed class arrangement, to 380 in all-economy seating.
The Series 10 model was designed for service on routes of up to 4,000 statute miles (6,436 km) and is powered by General Electric CF6-6 engines, each rated at 40,000 pounds (17,144 kg) takeoff thrust. First flight was August 29, 1970 with FAA certification received on July 29, 1971. First deliveries were made to both American and United Airlines with scheduled commercial flights beginning Aug. 5, 1971.
The intercontinental range Series 30, with a range of approximately 5,900 miles (9,493 km), was introduced in 1972 and came equipped with General Electric CF6-50 powerplants. The aircraft also incorporated an auxillary fuel tank (for an additional 98,000lbs fuel capacity), a third main landing gear, and an addtional 10 foot wingspan. In 1980, Swissair placed orders for the Series 30ER (Extender Range) which had additonal fuel capacity, further increasing range.
The Series 40, with an intercontinental range up to approximately 5,800 miles (9,322 km) and Pratt & Whitney JT9D turbofan engines, incorporated the improvements of the Series 30 and was also introduced to service in 1972. Japan Airlines (JAL) would place the only factory orders for this model.
The DC-10 Convertible Freighter (CF), first delivered in 1973, could be configured to carry all passengers or all cargo and is available in Series 10, 30 or 40 models. All versions have available cargo space of more than 16,000 cubic feet (453 cu m), as much capacity as four 40-foot (12.19-m) railroad freight cars, or capacity for 380 pax.
DC-10-20 (Redesignated Series 15)
The Series 15, launched in 1979, combines the airframe of the Series 10 with the powerplants of the Series 30s. This combination gave the Series 15 outstanding performance with full loads from high-altitude airports in hot climates. This was the ideal model for Aeromexico and Mexicana, who placed the only factory orders - for a total of seven aircraft.
The DC-10 Series 30F, an all-freight model, was ordered by Federal Express in May 1984. First delivery was made Jan. 24, 1986. The freighter version can carry palletized payloads of up to 175,000 pounds (79,380 kg) more than 3,800 miles (6,115 km).
Douglas was also awarded a contract to build an advanced tanker/cargo aircraft for the US Air Force. This military variant of the DC-10-30F is known as the KC-10A Extender and combined the 175,000lb cargo payload of the Series 30F with a 356,000lb fuel capacity. Sixty were built and delivered to the Air Force from 1979 to 1988.
The General Electric and Pratt & Whitney power plants displayed significant advances in engine performance and technology over earlier turbojet engines. The high-bypass-ratio turbofans were far more powerful, ran cleaner, and used much less fuel. Due to characteristics inherent to turbofan operation, the engine immediately met Federal noise reduction levels that wouldn't even exist for more than a decade. Thrust ratings ranged from 40,000lbs to 54,000lbs per engine (turbojets of the time would be lucky to muster 18,000lbs thrust each).
The wide DC-10 cabin interior with its broad ceiling results in a roomy spaciousness. Two aisles run the length of the cabin. Aisles and seats are wider than those on earlier jet transports, providing a level of passenger comfort and convenience that set a new standard in air travel. Galleys can be installed on the lower or main deck, with both areas well separated from passengers. An advanced air conditioning and cabin pressurization system provides separate automatic temperature controls for the three main cabin zones and for the cockpit and lower galley, ensuring optimum comfort for all passengers throughout the aircraft.
The roomy flight deck of the DC-10 has stations for a three-member crew, plus seating for two observers. Prime considerations in cockpit design were simplicity, efficiency and low crew workload. Large windshields provide exceptional visibility, particularly during approaches, landings and ground maneuvering. The DC-10 is certified for automatic landing (dual land) under Category II, IIIA, and IIIB weather conditions, allowing the aircraft to land itself in near-zero visibility.
The airplane was designed specifically to be a "good airport neighbor," operating from existing runways, taxiways and loading areas. Although each engine produces more than twice as much takeoff thrust as the most powerful engines on first-generation jetliners, the DC-10 power plants are significantly quieter. The DC-10 was the first commercial transport to be certified under the stringent FAA Stage 3 regulations governing sound levels for new aircraft, and it also complies with international noise standards.