I took a short flight on a Delta Boeing 717 — here’s why it’s now my favorite plane (BA)

  • The Boeing 717 is a slightly offbeat aircraft that went out of production in 2006.
  • Boeing chalked it up as a failure, a result of absorbing some McDonnell Douglas planes when it acquired the planemaker in the mid-1990s.
  • But the 100-seat 717-200 is now in serious demand as carriers move away from regional jets.
  • I recently flew on a Delta Air Lines Boeing 717 from Newark to Detroit.

I’ve flown on many big aircraft and plenty of small ones. I’ve flown on Boeings, Airbuses, and Embraers, Bombardiers and a host of more obscure names.

But until recently I’d never set foot on a Boeing 717, a smaller aircraft that Boeing inherited when it bought McDonnell Douglas in 1995 for $13 billion.

I tend to like really small jets, tolerate regional aircraft, richly enjoy big planes — and dislike the narrow-bodies that do most of the grunt work of hauling passengers around the US on domestic routes these days.

The 717-200, in Delta livery, that I boarded last month for a flight to Detroit from Newark, New Jersey, was a mystery. I wasn’t sure what I was strapping into. I had forgotten to quiz Business Insider resident aviation authority, Senior Reporter Ben Zhang, before my flight. 

But I figured out quickly what I was dealing with — and then settled back to enjoy the ride. Which was unexpectedly thrilling.

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The Boeing 717-200 is actually a rebranded McDonnell Douglas MD-95. Boeing acquired McDonnell in 1995 for $13 billion.

Sadly, as Business Insider’s Ben Zhang reported, “On May 23, 2006, Boeing delivered the last two 717-200 jetliners to customers at its Long Beach, California, factory.”

“It marked the end of a program filled with promise but that had ultimately failed to capture the interest of airlines. Even Boeing’s well-oiled sales operation could only manage to muster up 156 orders for the little 100-seat, short-haul-airliner.”

Despite being an apparent business failure with just 156 examples ever made, the 717 is now in high demand as a short-hauler, a 100-seater that can replace regional jets.

“What is this plane?” I asked myself.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider