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Last DC-9 Retired by Delta, With Final Trip From Minneapolis to Atlanta

By Clyde Hughes   |   Tuesday, 07 Jan 2014 02:39 PM

The last DC-9 aircraft, which once dominated the skies with nearly 1,000 airplanes in service, made its final flight Monday, flying passengers from Minneapolis to Atlanta via Delta Air Lines.

The first DC-9 rolled off the McDonnell Douglas assembly line in 1965 but most had been retired in the 1990s, according to The Associated Press. Northwest refurbished the interiors of its DC-9s to keep them flying and at one time they made up one-third of its fleet. 

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Northwest and Delta merged in 2008, with Delta taking on Northwest's DC-9 fleet, at that time creating the world's largest airline. Delta was down to its last six DC-9s Monday but will keep two around as spares for the next month.

McDonnell-Douglas merged with Boeing in 1997 and built the last DC-9 aircraft in 1982. The DC-9 was replaced by the MD-88 and Boeing 717, which looks similar to the DC-9, according to CNN.

The DC-9s were popular because they were small enough to fly to smaller airports that had previously been served by propeller-driven planes. Additionally, the plane's profile was low enough where ground crews at smaller airports could load it without special equipment.

Delta has a reputation for purchasing used airplanes and flying them longer than other airlines. The AP reported that Delta's DC-9 replacements are used Boeing 717s from AirTran.

Delta is refurbishing those planes and equipping them with Wi-Fi.

The DC-9 cockpit dials are a throwback from today's airplanes with digital instruments. The plane did not have a flight management computer that handles many of the routine flying tasks of newer aircrafts.

"It's a pilot's airplane," chief line check pilot Scott Woolfrey told The Associated Press.

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The last DC-9 aircraft, which once dominated the skies with nearly 1,000 airplanes in service, made its final flight Monday, flying passengers from Minneapolis to Atlanta via Delta Air Lines.
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