Aircraft By Type

Aircraft Make & Model:
Douglas DC-9-14
91,500 lb.
1,700 miles
560 mph
65 passengers
104 ft.
89 ft.
27 ft.
2 Pratt & Whitney JT8D-1
HP or Thrust:
14,000 hp
No. flown by DL:
16 DC-9-14s, 1 DC-9-15, 114 DC-9-31/-32s, 12 DC-9-41s, 34 DC-9-51s (and other DC-9 variants: 120 MD-82/88s, 65 MD-90s, 88 Boeing 717-200 arriving through 2015)
Short to medium range domestic routes
First Delivery:
DC-9-14, N3304L, Ship 204, named "Delta Prince," delivered to Delta on October 7, 1965.
First Scheduled Service:
World's first DC-9 service on November 29, 1965, with DC-9-14, N3305L (Ship 205), operating Flight 791, Atlanta-Memphis-Kansas City. Daily scheduled service began December 8, 1965.
Reason Aquired:
Jet service for routes of 500 miles or less.
Last Retirement:
Ceremonial retirement flight on January 6, 2014; final flight on January 22, 2014.
Reason Disposed:
Replaced by more fuel-efficient aircraft.

Narrative:  Douglas DC-9 1965-1993, 2008-2014

A Jet for Frequent, Short Flights

The DC-9 brought modern jet service to many smaller and intermediate sized cities on Delta's routes. Prior to 1965, Delta acquired two jets, the Douglas DC-8 and the Convair 880for long distance flights between larger cities. The DC-9 filled a different and very important niche at a time when 60% of all U.S. passenger traffic was on routes of 500 miles or less—distances usually served by propeller aircraft such as the Douglas DC-6, DC-7 and Convair 440. The DC-9 was designed to operate from 98% of the nation's airports in 1965. It was the first American-built jet to meet the requirements of smaller and intermediate sized cities.

Models 14 & 15

Delta leased one DC-9-15 from Jet International and flew 16 of the DC-9-14 type: 14 were purchased from Douglas Aircraft and two were leased from Eastern Airlines. Aircraft N3305L crashed during a training flight at Fort Worth, Texas on May 30, 1972.  

Delta sold its remaining DC-9-14s to Southern Airways in 1972-1973, but the planes became part of Delta's history again when Northwest Airlines merged with Delta in 2008:

  • Northwest acquired seven of Delta's original DC-9-14s from a merger with Republic Airlines in 1986: N3306L, N3308L, N3309L, N3310L, N3312L, N3313L and N3314L.
  • These former Delta DC-9s became Republic DC-9s when Southern and North Central Airlines merged to form Republic Airlines in 1979.
Model 32 "Stretched Nine"
The Model 32 was fifteen feet longer than the standard DC-9 and carried up to 108,000 lb. gross weight. It held 89 passenger seats.

First delivery to Delta on April 9, 1967, and in service on April 20, 1967. By July 1971, Delta had a fleet of 63 Model -32s.

Delta retired the last of its early DC-9-32 fleet in January 1, 1993. These aircraft were replaced by more efficient Boeing 727

McDonnell Douglas T-Tails
Other descendants of the original DC-9 joined the Delta fleet in the late 1980s/early 1990s: the McDonnell Douglas MD-82 and MD-88 (originally known as the DC-9-80) in 1987, and the MD-90 in 1995.

DC-9-30 Returns; DC-9-40 & -50 Join Delta
After almost a 16-year absence, the DC-9-30 returned to the Delta fleet, and for the first time, Delta flew the DC-9-40 and -50. These aircraft came from Northwest Airlines, which merged with Delta on October 29, 2008; the merged airline began single operations in 2010.

Former Northwest DC-9s added to Delta fleet: 

  • 97 aircraft total: 51 DC-9-31/32s, 12 Model 41s and 34 Model 51s. 
  • 2 of the Model -32s were former Delta planes: N3324L and N3322L.
  • The Model -30s and -41s remained in Northwest colors until they left the Delta fleet in 2010-2011.
  • All the former Northwest DC-9-51s were repainted in Delta livery by mid-November 2009. Ship 9863 was last one repainted. 

Boeing 717
In 2013, Delta acquired another evolution of the enduring DC-9 design: ex-AirTran Boeing 717-200 jets with delivery through 2015. Learn more

DC-9-51 Retires
Delta was the first and the last U.S. airline to fly scheduled DC-9 commercial flights. The official Delta DC-9 farewell took place on January 6, 2014. To acknowledge the DC-9's retirement, the last flight (Minneapolis/St. Paul to Atlanta) was numbered DL2014 noting the final year of service, while the preceding flight (Detroit to Minneapolis/St. Paul) was flight DL1965, the aircraft's initial year of service.

Two DC-9's remained with Delta for several weeks to fill in for delayed Boeing 717 deliveries. On January 22, 2014, Delta operated the final DC-9 flight (DL310) with DC-9, N779NC, flying from Eglin Air Force Base in Valparaiso, Florida, to Atlanta.

More Information

  • Airchive.com: Blog post, "It's Over: Delta Officially Retires the DC-9"
  • Delta.com: News release, "Delta to Retire Last Commercial Service DC-9 Aircraft," December 24, 2013.
  • 1965 Delta DC-9 Brochure: Introducing the "quick, quiet new DC-9 FanJet" to Delta customers in this colorful brochure. 
  • Dec 1965 Delta Digest article: All about DC-9 world inaugural on Nov. 29, and start of daily scheduled service on Dec. 8.
  • Nov 1965 Delta Digest articleDC-9 delivery--many photos!
  • Delta.com:  DC-9 seat maps from Delta.com in the Internet Archives; original URL was http://www.delta.com/content/www/en_US/traveling-with-us/airports-and-aircraft/Aircraft/mcdonnell-douglas-dc9-50.html
  • SouthernAirway.orgSouthern's DC-9 fleet list 
  • Boeing.comDevelopment and specifications of the DC-9
  • AirlinercafeHow to identify the DC-9 family
  • dc-9_southern
  • DC-9-14_atlanta
  • dc-9-50_nw
  • Northwest DC-9-31 flight from Chicago-Midway to Detroit, 2008.
  • Delta DC-9-51 Exterior Walk Around and Cabin Walk Through
  • Delta Airlines DC-9-51 [N775NC] LOUD Takeoff Runway 3L | DTW