Air International 2006-09
D.Willis - McDonnell Douglas DC-10 /Aircraft profile/
American Airlines was the launch customer for the DC-10, with an initial order for 25 aircraft. The airline eventually operated a total of 68 'Luxury Liners', as it named the DC-10, and included examples of the -10, -15 and -30. During the years it was in service, from 1972 until 2000, three aircraft were lost in accidents. The iconic natural metal colour scheme used by the airline dates back to 1969 and was the only one carried by its DC-10 fleet. Illustrated is a DC-10-10, N135AA.
Illustrated in VARIG’s original classic colours is PP-VMT, a DC-10-30 when delivered in 1980. It was converted to a -30(CF) six years later, with the ability to carry either passengers or cargo, or both at the same time, though in practice it was mainly used for cargo operations. VARIG was a long-term and enthusiastic DC-10 operator, employing 15 in all: 'VMT flew with the carrier for over 25 years.
The unmistakable Canadian Pacific Airlines (CP Air) red, orange and polished metal colour scheme on DC-10-30, C-GCPJ, Empress of Rome. The CP Air DC-10s were mainly used on transatlantic and Pacific services, and in 1986 the airline decided to standardise on the DC-10 as its long-range aircraft, exchanging its four Boeing 747s for four DC-10-30s. It was operating 12 DC-10s, including five converted -30ERs, when it was taken over by Pacific Western Airlines in 1987.
British Caledonian Airways used its nine DC-10s, bought between 1977 and 1981, to service its long-haul routes. This aircraft, G-MULL (c/n 47888), had its port wing and associated engine damaged when it was hit by a shoulder-launched missile on a flight for its former owner, Ariana Afghan Airlines.
A new start-up global cargo carrier, Cargoitalia, is currently recruiting cabin crew for its fleet of DC-10-30s and its future MD-11s. The ageing, but relatively economical, DC-10 with its 64-ton capacity is ideally suited for cargo operations.
In 1977 the KC-10A Extender won the competition for the US Air Force's Advanced Tanker Transport Aircraft (ATTA), Although it could not match the capacity of the 747, a major factor in its purchase was its ability to take off with a maximum load from airfields with relatively short runways. Originally delivered in the airline-style white roof, grey belly and blue cheatline, the 60-strong fleet then switched to a dark green scheme, before adopting its latest overall dark grey colour, illustrated here.
Only 42 DC-10-40s were built, and the two airlines which opted for this intercontinental variant were Northwest Orient Airlines and Japan Airlines. One of the latter's aircraft is pictured just before touchdown at Nagoya in Japan.
Despite some accidents early in its career, the McDonnell Douglas DC-10 has proved popular with operators: 386 have been built for commercial customers and 60 for the USAF. When British Airways took over British Caledonian Airways, it decided to adopt some of the latter’s fleet. One of these aircraft was DC-10-30, G-BEBL, pictured on approach to San Diego in 1994.