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30 Jun 2008
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  Topic: DL post-NW merger flight report - Sent 25 May 23:31

Greetings from the Big Easy, Crescent City, N'awlins, etc. I'm out here for a trade show and am flying Delta for the first time since the NW merger has been fully complete. I flew Y class LAX-MEM-MSY going out and will fly MSY-LAX nonstop coming back. The LAX-MEM and MEM-MSY were operated with ex-NW aircraft (a 320 and an ancient D95 which still had an Eastern Airlines registration!) Most of the flight crew were ex-NWA and treated the customer better than your average Delta crew. The D95 was painted in DL colours and had a newly refurbished interior with leather seats, new carpeting, lavatory remodels and fresh paint...anything to fool the customer into thinking he's not on a 30something year-old bird...according to the aircraft was delivered new to Allegheny Airlines in October 1975 and went to Eastern, Northwest and now Delta, making it only 1.5 years younger than me. It got 100+ pax to New Orleans in one piece so I guess it's still in pretty good shape. The return is nonstop on a 738 (which should have the new individual IFE). Service was standard for U.S. majors and so far there was no decline from the old NW days.

New Orleans seems to be doing rather well post-Katrina. Construction is everywhere in the CBD and French Quarter, the MSY terminal has been refurbished, highways have been repaired and many of the corrupt, incompetent local politicans have been voted out.

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26 Apr 2007
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  Topic: DL post-NW merger flight report - Sent 25 May 8:06

Just some comments re DL's DC9 fleet.

The DC9 family has a solid reputation<And still lives on in its younger offsprings MD80/90/717> among pilots and maintenance crews as a rugged airliner type which can take a lot of beatings/abuses for yrs in those hi-cycle daily shorthaul routines. Reasons? It's design is very simple/utilitarian even by 1960s stds<e.g. relative to 731> and constructed via a very traditional/conservative but well-proven approach. In short, the way Douglas designed/built them as if it's building army Jeeps<Unsurprising given Douglas' long history+reputation in rugged military aircrafts such as DC3>. Many observers did commented that in general, Douglas types tend to be a bit<over-built> in terms of overall airframe strength. Further modern development in the form of MD80/90/717 kept the tradition<Or MD was just pretty broke to invest too much but that's another story...> of a simplistic design+contruction philosophy. Even in the last iteration 717, there're so few fancy gears onboard<e.g. no FBW, no HUD, no wingtip devices, few exotic construction materials, minimum advanced avionics, etc.> like U will find on any 32x/737NG. Precisely because it's so basic, the DC9/M80/90/717 are so easy and cheap to fly+maintain<Partly why NW kept it for so long>. I remembered an article about the 717 right after Boeing ended production in which the pilots described that plane as the most relaxing modern type to fly manually in the event when all onboard electronic flying gadgets failed. The handling+aerodynamics of 717 is so fundamentally right that it's actually fun to fly that thing manually.

Nevertheless, days of the DC9s in DL's fleet are definitely numbered. While the airframe may last 0.5 century requiring little maintenance<We've already saw that in DC3s and DHL's DC8s seem to be on the same track>, those turbofans fm the stone-age certainly won't.

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