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NEW MD-90 MAKES FIRST FLIGHT

 LONG BEACH, Calif., Feb. 23 /PRNewswire/ -- With the subdued sound of its advanced new engines impressing onlookers, the McDonnell Douglas MD-90 took off on its first flight yesterday, climbing quickly into the sky over Long Beach.
 A chase plane with technical observers on board moved into formation with the new airliner and tracked it out over the Pacific ocean to begin a lengthy flight test program that will lead to commercial service starting in late 1994.
 The aircraft lifted off from the main runway at Long Beach Municipal Airport at 9:44 a.m. After an extensive series of tests, it landed 4 hours and 56 minutes later at Mojave Airport, 90 miles northeast of Los Angeles.
 In an unprecedented display of the aircraft systems' readiness, the MD-90 demonstrated its automatic landing capability with a computer-controlled approach at Palmdale Airport. It was the first time such an operation has been included in the first flight of a new aircraft.
 At the controls of the MD-90 was Captain Bill Jones, MD-90 chief test pilot for the Douglas Aircraft division of McDonnell Douglas (NYSE: MD). With him were Douglas test pilot Gary Smith as first officer and Barry McCarthy, flight test engineer, operating data collecting systems.
 Jones said he had "never flown a plane as ready as this one was on first flight. The only reason we landed is that we ran out of tests to perform."
 A throng of Douglas employees, MD-90 supplier representatives, airport area workers and neighbors watched from vantage points around the field as the aircraft lifted off, gleaming in the white, green and blue colors of the new McDonnell Douglas company livery.
 The maiden flight comes only nine days after the MD-90's formal rollout on Feb. 13, and is three days ahead of a target schedule laid down several months ago by program managers.
 The MD-90 is the world's newest commercial jet transport, designed to serve the needs of airlines for mid-size, medium range, advanced technology equipment well into the next century.
 The new transport is powered by two 25,000-pounds-thrust V2500 engines built by International Aero Engines, a consortium of five major propulsion companies in the United States, Europe and Japan. They are the quietest and cleanest jet powerplants in their class, designed to operate well below the most stringent limits on noise and exhaust emissions now in effect or under consideration. With seats for 153 passengers in a typical business- and economy-class arrangement, the MD-90 will have non-stop range of more than 2,600 statute miles.
 On the first flight, Jones and his crew had three objectives: to demonstrate basic airworthiness, to make an initial evaluation of handling qualities with various flight control settings, and to begin expansion of the "envelope" of operating speed and altitude.
 After takeoff, the MD-90 climbed to an altitude of 10,000 feet and flew a test pattern near Santa Catalina Island while the crew completed airworthiness checks. Then they climbed again to 18,000 feet for tests of flight controls and the air conditioning system.
 Returning to 10,000 feet, the aircraft took a course north and east to cross the coastline near Ventura, Calif., and headed inland to the Edwards Air Force Base flight test area. A series of tests validated stability and handling qualities as the aircraft cruised over the desert to complete the day's work.
 The flight plan took the new jetliner to a landing at Mojave Airport, where the aircraft will remain for several weeks of additional testing before returning to Long Beach.
 -0- 2/23/93
 /CONTACT: Don Hanson of Douglas Aircraft Co., 310-593-4710/
 (MD)


CO: Douglas Aircraft Co. ST: California IN: ARO AIR SU:

BP -- LA016 -- 9387 02/23/93 11:50 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Feb 23, 1993
Words:620
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