The MD-80 is a descendant from the DC-9. In the middle of the Seventies McDonnell Douglas thought about producing a stretched version of the DC-9-50. But finally, a completely new family was developed which was called DC-9 Super 80 at first, but was later renamed into McDonnell Douglas MD-80. The first flight was in October 1979, in September 1980 the first airplanes could be delivered to launching customer Swissair.
The MD-80 is nearly five metres longer than its predeccessor, the DC-9-50. It has an increased span, too, and 142-173 seats. It's driven by Pratt&Whitney PW J8TD engines. The MD-80 is the first civil aircraft in which a Headup-Guidance system was used, an approach help especially in bad weather. According to the basis version MD-81 the MD-82 with increased power was available. The MD-83 has extended range. In 1987 there was the first flight of the MD-88 which has a new EFIS cockpit and a new cabin layout.
To replace the old DC-9-30, MDD developed the about five metres shortened MD-87. A conical tail for more stability was used for the first time, which was installed in every other MD-80 afterwards. The MD-87 is able to transport max. 139 passengers and is driven by less powerful engines. In contrast to its sister models the MD-87 wasn't very successful
Since 1985 the MD-82 and MD-83 were also produced as a licese production in China. The MD-80 series became a global success, over 1400 MD-80s were built. As the MD-80 was a big competitor of Boeings 737, the production was stopped when Boeing took over McDonnell Douglas in 1996.