The Boeing 717 is the latest aircraft in Boeing family, but it already has a long history. In fact, it wasn't originally developed by Boeing, but by competitor McDonnell Douglas as MD-95. When Boeing took over McDonnell Douglas in 1997 and quit manufacturing, only project MD-95 stayed alive and became Boeing 717. The only client up to this date was the low-cost-carrier Valujet (now AirTran), which ordered 50 aircrafts plus 50 options. After the crash of a Valujet DC-9 in the Everglades, which caused the loss of Valujet's license, the only customer seemed to be lost and the Boeing 717 a flop. But finally Valujet (AirTran) got its licese back and its first Boeing 717. Shortly afterwards, TWA (now American Airlines) placed an order.
Though the Boeing 717 is new, it is basicly nothing but a new edition of the DC-9 from the Sixties. Boeing wanted to take part in the boom in regional aircraft manufacture, and so the MD-95 became Boeing 717 to fill Boeings gap on the regionaljet market.Nevertheless the Boeing 717 is not an optimal solution. The retort-DC-9 is not totally constructed for today's needs, its rentability could be better and there's a lack of an aircraft family, which makes the model interesting for airlines.
Of course, much has been changed compared with the original DC-9. The aircraft has a modern glass flight deck with LCD-screens by Honeywell, as well as new BR715 engines by Rolls-Royce. The 717 can transport 106 passengers in a two-class configuration and has a range of nearly 3000km.
As a result of the extremely low sales of the 717, Boeing decided to shut down the production after completion of the last orders. With the end of the 717, the last part of the McDonnell Douglas legacy is vanishing from civil aviation.