Some 43 years ago, legendary workhorse McDonnell Douglas DC-10 logged its maiden voyage for passengers on August 5, 1971 with an American Airlines round trip between Los Angeles and Chicago.
Now, the final-flight honour goes to Biman Bangladesh, operator of the world's last passenger DC-10. The three-engine jet will make its last flight with the Bangladesh flag carrier between Dhaka and Birmingham via Kuwait on February 20. It has 314 seats on sale.
“With a mixture of pride and relief, we'll bid farewell to our last DC-10 on Feb 20,” Biman CEO Kevin Steele said in an interview with Bloomberg in Frankfurt on Monday.
The jet will be parked facing a brand new 777 from Boeing, which purchased McDonnell Douglas for $16.3 billion in 1997, Steele said.
“It'll be figuratively for the old and the new Biman, and I'll be shedding some tears.”
For Biman, the retirement of the DC-10 is part of a fleet upgrade that is central to Steele's plans to remake the carrier's image and add a raft of new long-haul services.
DC-10s have been the backbone of the Biman fleet for nearly a quarter century and at one time the fleet numbered six aircraft.
With the advent of the fourth generation Boeing 777s, Biman started phasing out the fuel guzzling DC-10s from the fleet gradually.
Biman has made special arrangements to bid farewell to this faithful friend, which joined its fleet in August 1983.
Aviation enthusiasts from all over the world are showing much interest to fly with this vintage machine.
Biman will operate three scenic tours a day for three days from February 22 in and around Birming-ham after the last scheduled flight, said Khan Musharraf Hussein, general manager for public relations of Biman Bangladesh Airlines.
Every scenic tour flight will make rooms for 144 flyers, he said.
“Passengers are welcomed to book either the last flight from Dhaka or to book the scenic flights online via the Biman website,” Hussein said.
“Tickets will only be sold via our website, so do not buy tickets elsewhere. We want these tickets to go to genuine aviation enthusiasts,” Biman said in a statement quoting Steele.
The first wide-body tri-jet—the Douglas DC-10—made a chequered beginning in the 1970s, but became a mainstay of many airlines around the world on medium and long routes.
McDonnell Douglas made 446 DC-10s during the plane's manufacturing run, which included six different variations. The penultimate, New Era, was sold to Biman and delivered in 1989, according to the statement.
The DC-10 suffered 13 fatal accidents overall in which 1,190 passengers and 72 crews were killed, excluding a bomb on a plane in 1986, Bloomberg reports quoting UK aviation consultancy Ascend.
More than 100 non-passenger DC-10s remain in service, according to Ascend, primarily with cargo carriers, including Fedex Corp. Others have been converted for roles spanning fire fighting to serving as an eye hospital for Orbis International.