ST. LOUIS – After more than 35 years in service, American Airlines is retiring its MD-80 aircraft. One of the remaining 26 aircraft took its final flight from St. Louis-Lambert International Airport on Wednesday.
“I've got 14,000 hours flying this plane,” said Captain William Jagust, American Airlines pilot. “I've always taken off with two engines running and landed with two engines running.”
Instead of trying to keep up with all the comfort technology customers want, the MD-80s are being retired to Roswell, New Mexico, where they will then probably be picked up as cargo planes because they are still quality aircraft.
“There’s no such thing as an old airplane,” said John Beavers, vice president of engineering at American Airlines. “All (planes) have to meet the same standard; out of the factory or flying for us 30 years.”
The MD-80s, considered the workhorses of the American Airline fleet, helped propel TWA to a top airline. With its headquarters in St. Louis, the MD-80s made TWA. The aircraft was a part of the fabric of St. Louis.
Over the past few years, American has been replacing the aging, 140-seat MD-80s with the newer, fuel-efficient 160-seat Boeing 737-800s. At present, the airline operates 300 Boeing 737-800s and has orders for 100 Boeing 737 MAX 8s.