What’s the difference between the DC-10 and MD-11?

From a distance, the two trijets look very similar, but what are the main differentiating features of the pair? Key.Aero compares them to find out

The McDonnell Douglas DC-10 and MD-11 – to the untrained eye at least – look fairly similar. The pair, with their iconic trijet design, were popular at a time before ETOPS enabled Boeing 777s and Airbus A330s could offer better fuel burn and uninhibited access to routes even over large bodies of water. 

The MD-11's wingtips are arguably its most identifable feature. Aviation Image Network/Bailey

The DC-10 came first and was introduced into service with American Airlines on August 5, 1971. Only 386 were ever built before production ended in 1988. The MD-11 was designed as a successor and was introduced into commercial service on December 20, 1990 with Finnair. 

The DC-10 was more popular than its successor, as 186 more airframes were constructed. Aviation Image Network/Bailey Collection

Production ran between 1988 and 2000, during which time only 200 airframes were constructed. 

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