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Friday, November 9, 1990 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Mcdonnell Douglas Lands MD-11 Certification

Los Angeles Times: Times Staff

LONG BEACH, Calif. - After investing four years and $700 million to design and develop its MD-11 jetliner, McDonnell Douglas has been granted government certification of the aircraft, enabling the company to begin deliveries later this month.

The 250-400 passenger MD-11 is the first of a new generation of long-range, widebody jetliners expected to become a major part of the global commercial-transport fleet by the second half of this decade.

Boeing launched its new 777 widebody twinjet last month largely in response to brisk sales of the MD-11 as well as the Airbus A330 widebody twinjet, which is scheduled to enter service in June 1993.

Douglas Aircraft, McDonnell Douglas' unit in Long Beach, plans to deliver at least five MD-11s by year's end, providing a significant boost to revenues and much needed relief for the company's tight cash condition.

Douglas President Robert Hood personally received the Federal Aviation Administration certificate, bound in a blue leather folder, in a brief ceremony yesterday at Dulles Airport in suburban Washington, D.C., yesterday. He and about 60 other Douglas officials then flew an MD-11 back to the Douglas plant in Long Beach.

The very survival of the company was bet on obtaining the certification document in a timely fashion. Hood said that Douglas has invested about $2.5 billion in inventory for initial production, besides the $700 million for engineering, tools and flight testing.

Throughout the program, McDonnell's debt rose steadily, reaching about $3 billion in September and resulting in three successive down-gradings of its credit rating.

There were a number of painful setbacks in the program, including a six-month delay in the original schedule for getting the aircraft certified. The aircraft grew several thousand pounds heavier than planned. And the three General Electric jet engines that power it were found to consume about 4 percent more fuel than planned.

Copyright (c) 1990 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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