Airways magazine has the heartwarming story of American Airlines MD-80 N9401W heading off to retirement in New Mexico:
This aircraft, and 19 others, were part of a symbolic retirement.
A 20-aircraft order placed by American Airlines to McDonnell Douglas in 1982 marked the beginning of an era in which AA became the world’s largest MD-80 operator, but as the decades passed through and as new and more efficient aircraft joined the fleet, the venerable Mad Dog era is now heading into the sunset.
Once the last AA MD-80 parks in Roswell in 2018, it will close a chapter in the company’s history; yet it will also signify a new era, with the arrival of new Airbus A320 family aircraft and Boeing 737 Next Generation and the coming MAX variant, all part of a major $4.6 billion order placed back in 2010 for 460 aircraft —the largest commercial aircraft order in history at that time.
Millions of miles had unfurled beneath Ship 4WJ, from the Far East where she was built, to freezing Calgary in Canada to the sunny Los Cabos in Mexico, from Los Angeles to Chicago, and then to New York, transporting about 3,700,000 passengers during its career.
Subtracting engines, the current parts market value of an MD-80 varies from $100,000 to $200,000. Once all marketable parts have been harvested, the value of the fuselage carcass ranges between $10,000 and $12,000. It can take a month to part out an MD-80 yet only a few hours to crush it into scrap metal.
While AA retired today 20 MD-80s, the airline’s remaining 61 Mad Dogswill continue flying—safely and reliably transporting their passengers and crews.
I last flew on an MD-80 on 3 December 2014, from Dallas to Chicago.