The Last DC10

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

▲ Aircraft geeks fight to get on the first commercial flights on new aircraft – Singapore Airlines auctioned off seats for the first flights on their double-decker Airbus A380 for example. Last flights can also attract a premium and Singapore Airlines tried that too with the final flight on the last of their Boeing 747 fleet. That’s certainly not the last opportunity to fly on a Boeing 747, however. First line airlines may be gradually retiring their out-of-date 747s, but they’ll be around for years yet.

McDonnell_Douglas_DC-10-30,_Biman_Bangladesh_AN1189270 542▲ A Bangladesh Biman DC10-30 in Dubai (photograph by Konstantin von Wedelstaedt)

There is a wide-body airliner about to reach its use-by-date: the Douglas DC10. And who has that last passenger DC10? Bangladesh Biman. Their penultimate DC10 ended its career on 10 November this month and the last one will finish up with a Dhaka to Birmingham, England flight in February 2014. There will be one or two flightseeing opportunities out of Birmingham before it’s flown to the USA to join an aviation museum. If US authorities allow it there may be seats available on that final flight as well. Check the Bangladesh Biman website for more information.

The DC10 was followed by the MD11 and KLM will continue to operate that model into 2014. There are numerous cargo versions of the MD11 in operation, particularly with FedEx.

My last DC10 flight was on an AOM (Air Outre-Mer) flight from Los Angeles to Papeete (Tahiti) in 1999. In the three years before that date I’d flown on Continental, Thai International and United Airlines DC10s. Amusingly I’ve flown more recently on a DC3, the classic piston-engined Douglas aircraft much used during WW II.

Tupolev Tu-154M 542
▲ Tupolev Tu-154 in Kazakhstan

Other triple-engined jets? It’s been a long time (more than 20 years) since I’ve flown on a De Havilland Trident or a Lockheed Tristar, but I flew on a Russian Tupolev Tu-154 in 2008 (Sergey Brin and Larry Page of Google were on the same flight) and I made a flight on a similar aircraft from Air Koryo, the North Korean carrier, a few years earlier. I’ve made one flight on a Yak-40 as well! See my recent Back to the ’50s posting for some vintage BOAC aircraft as well.

Kisangani - Hewa Bora 727-100 542
▲ Hewa Bora 727 one week before its final flight

The most popular three-engined jet was the classic Boeing 727 and I’ve flown on plenty of those over the years although a week after I took my last 727 flight, with Hewa Bora Airlines in Congo DRC in 2011, it crashed.