Flickr/Tomás Del Coro
- 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.
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.
The Boeing 717-200 is actually a rebranded McDonnell Douglas MD-95. Boeing acquired McDonnell in 1995 for $13 billion.
“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.
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