Held in affectionate regard by pilots and engineers, the DC-10 was “fun to fly, roomy, and quiet”. Yet this impressive pioneer of the three-engined, widebody airliner endured troubled beginnings. A series of accidents in the 1970s and 80s had unfortunately tarnished its reputation; however, only one of these accidents was due to a design deficiency, and this had been rectified in most DC -1 o aircraft before the event in question.
The DC-10 became McDonnell Douglas’s first commercial airliner following the merger between the Douglas Aircraft Company and McDonnell Aircraft Corporation in 1967. It was built to an American Airlines specification
for an aircraft with the widehody appeal of the Boeing 747, capable of flying similar long-range routes from airports with shorter runways, yet smaller than the “jumbo”. With one engine beneath each wing and one located at the base of the base of the fin, the DC-10 accommodated 250-380 passengers seated up to ten-abreast. In addition to its twin nosewheels and two four-wheel units, it also had a two-wheel central unit to spread the pavement load – a feature that won the DC-10 orders over its competitors.
The prototype flew in August 1970 and DC-10s entered service a year later. Six commercial models were built, along with one military variant.