Boeing delivers final 717 to AirTran, ending Douglas era

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Monday, May 29, 2006

Boeing Commercial Airplanes on Tuesday delivered the final 717 jet built to AirTran Airways in ceremonies in Long Beach, California, bringing production of McDonnell Douglas jets to an end.

"AirTran Airways would like to thank the many Boeing employees for their hard work and dedication over the years and enabling us to build a world-class aircraft fleet that is unparalleled in the aviation industry," said Joe Leonard, Chairman and Chief Operating Officer of AirTran Airways.

The final Boeing 717 was the 15,599th plane built by the Long Beach plant, the original home of Douglas Aircraft and McDonnell Douglas. It also marked the end of the popular DC-9 family of jets, which has sold over 2,400 units over its 41-year history.

In 1995, McDonnell Douglas introduced the MD-95, which later became the Boeing 717 when McDonnell Douglas merged with Boeing in 1996. The 717 had suffered from slow sales throughout its history, with 155 planes ordered. In January 2005, Boeing announced that it would cancel the 717 program after completing all outstanding orders.

The 717 program's demise leaves the C-17 military cargo jet as the only remaining jet aircraft built in California. Some workers from the 717 program have transferred to the C-17 program. Its future is also uncertain as Boeing's contract to produce the aircraft expires in 2008.