Sunday, 16 August 2015

Flying Alitalia's MD-80 from London Heathrow To Rome

Welcome to my trip report from the past!



I remember this flight clearly as this trip happened a few months after my U.S Trip flown with United Airlines in early 2000. I have done a trip report on the airline's A319, you can check it out over here. I flew to London on a business trip for a few weeks and Rome was one of the destinations I had to go. I didn't get to choose which airlines and aircraft to fly to, but when I heard I was flying Alitalia to Rome from London, I was over the moon! The passion of flying the MD-11 continues and I kept praying hard to get that aircraft. Not knowing that at that time, the MD-11 flies mostly on medium-long haul routes. When I found out, I was flying on the MD-82, I wasn't so sure about this aircraft type and I can tell you now, how delighted that it was my very first ride on the McDonnell Douglas aircraft. So while I can still remember roughly my experience is like, let me share it with you. 

*Photos are credited to the respective photographers on airliners.net and jetphotos. 


Flight route: LHR-FCO

Miles: 899


Just a day before departure, I checked the aircraft type of my flight and saw only MD-82s were listed for the FCO-LHR flight and true enough that aircraft appeared in front of me while waiting for the aircraft to arrive. This airline was in a better shape back then and it was my first time flying on another European airline other than British Airways which I commonly used back then especially on long haul flights. 

I remember London Heathrow back then, especially for the Queen's building which is a famous place for plane spotting at the roof top. You can see lots of movements on the tarmac and the take off and landing on runway 09 Left and Right. I also managed to witness the take off of the British Airways Concorde, which other traffic would stop and watch this grand lady take off. Of course, this building is now gone, replaced by Terminal 2 and the Concorde has since been retired. Here are some photos of London Heathrow Airport in its golden 
days. 

A view of the Concorde at the hanger






Terminal 1 Check-in counters in 2005


More photos of the terminals 



The good old spotting area at Queens Building in the past! How I miss this place. I remember going there to catch the take off of the Concorde and seeing some exotic airlines that I don't get to see back home.


The poor passengers suffered because of the strikes from British Airways' staff.


The flight I took was probably earlier than these photos, but at least some familiar places bring back some memories. 

More photos of Alitalia's MD-82 



Special livery 

Recognise this? 



The MD-80 is one photogenic aircraft! 


This was how I boarded my aircraft! Pity, no camera with me at that time. 


Boarding the aircraft via the staircase, I was greeted with the friendly Italian staff who told me that my seat was on the right side of the aircraft. The cabin configuration was in 2-3, quite unfamiliar to me as I was quite used to the 3-3 seating configuration on the 737 and 320. I took the window seat near the rear and I remember how green the seats were as it matches the airline's corporate colours. 

Here are some photos of the cabin 

The last few rows are near to the engine, so if you are around that area, be prepared for some wonderful noise from the Pratt and Whitney JT8D engines.



The green interior will always be in my mind. I was sitting around row 25 right side.



Business Class seat 


The cabin crew of the airline! The crew were pretty nice, despite being told not to expect much from the service. I thought a few of them were extra nice to me seeing that I am a foreigner. 

I flew on the MD-80 on the return sector as well, I wished I had paid more attention to the details such as the registration of the aircraft and kept the boarding passes. 

Some window shots of the airline's MD-80 

I enjoyed this view when I flew on FAT's MD-80, you can check out my trip report with that airline over here.


The airline's logo and the registration was on the right hand side of the wing.


The MD-82 is an impressive machine. The take off was powerful and I remembered how impressed I was with it and the ride was around an hour plus. Sandwich was served and before I knew it, we were on our descend and landed in Rome punctually. The ride was smooth which make my first MD-80 ride even more enjoyable. 



Here is some information of the MD-80 family 

MD-80 family is built by McDonnell Douglas to compete with the Boeing 737-200 and its an upgrade over the DC-9 with longer fuselage and range . This aircraft can sit between 130 and 172 seats depending on the type and cabin configuration of the airline. 

SwissAir was the launch customer of the MD-80 family with delivery started on 10th October 1980. This aircraft is built with the 2 engines at the tail, different from the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737. The improved version of the MD-80 are the MD-90 and the Boeing 717 (MD-95), after which Boeing has already taken over McDonnell Douglas and sadly, the MD-11 and Boeing 717's production was shut down and this name was gone for food. 

This is how the DC-9 looks like (Aeromexico DC-9)


MD81- MD83, MD-88 can hold a capacity of 12 F Class and 123 Y class or 155 Y class configured aircraft. 

MD-81: First production of the MD-80 family (JAS MD-81)


MD-82: Same fuselage as the MD-81 but operating with more powerful engines
(Iranair MD-82)


MD-83: Same fuselage as MD-81 and 82 with increased fuel capacity, higher weight and more powerful engines than MD-81 and 82. 
(Danish Air Transport MD-83)


MD-87: Shortest version of the MD-80 family, carries only 114 Mixed or 130 All Y class cabin but using same engine, systems and flight deck. The low drag "beaver" tail cone was also introduced on this aircraft.


MD-88: An improved version over the MD-81 and MD-82. The cockpit offers EFIS cockpit and upgrades to the flight system such as wind-shear warning system and general update of its cabin interior. 
(Delta Airlines MD-88)


The cockpit of the MD-80 family


Present time (August 2015)

The Mad-Dog (The nickname for this aircraft) is tough to get in Asia, the only city that is still operating this aircraft type regularly is FAT (Fat Eastern Air Transport) in Taiwan, easiest way to fly on it is to fly on the domestic flights from Taipei Songshan Airport to either Kinmen or Magong. Better do it fast because I have news that the Boeing 737-800 and -900ER will replace this aircraft type soon. When will this happen? I am not sure. Otherwise, you have to catch the MD-80s in the U.S. Delta Airlines are operating lots of them and perhaps American Airlines which are gradually being phrased out and a few smaller airlines perhaps. The MD-90s and Boeing 717s will still be around a while longer.

MD-90 (below) is an improved over the MD-80 with more efficient engines and an enhanced cockpit. 

(EVA Air MD-90)


Cockpit of the MD-90



Boeing 717 (MD-95)

Boeing renamed the MD-95 to Boeing 717 after taking over McDonnell Douglas.

My one and only ride on the Boeing 717 was this aircraft below, click here for my trip report.

(Hawaiian Airlines Boeing 717)


Cockpit of the Boeing 717 (MD-95)


My Return Flight 

I don't have much memory of Rome's Airport around that time, things happened very quickly after my meeting. I stayed there for a couple of nights before taking the return flight back to London. 

The return flight to London was with the same airline and aircraft type. The traffic in Rome was quite heavy and it took quite a while before we departed. I remember landing in London Heathrow later than the schedule time but didn't matter since it was an afternoon flight. 

As far as I know, Alitalia only operates MD-82 last time and the number was around 90. Here are more photos of the beautiful jetliner, thanks to the respective photographers. 



My first experience with the MD-80 has made me fallen in love with this aircraft. I have been keeping track of it since then but at that time I knew that Boeing has bought over McDonnell Douglas and the days of this aircraft was numbered. Fortunately, I manage to fly this aircraft with Fat Eastern Air Transport's MD-82 and the defunct airline, SpanAir's MD-87. I hope to be able to complete the MD-80 series in the near future, possibly with Delta Airlines as currently they are the biggest operator of this aircraft type.


Hope you enjoy my short review! 

Cheers,
Charles 

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