Why's the MD-80 Still Flying?

Sure it's a gas-guzzler, but the old plane has plenty in its favor despite the recent groundings to inspect wire bundles
Stranded travelers wait in the terminal as grounded American Airlines MD-80 aircraft sit on the tarmac Apr. 9, 2008 Rick Gershon/Getty Images

The jet at the center of American Airlines' flight travails gulps gas and rumbles about in a far noisier fashion than newer models. It first took flight nearly 30 years ago and today is greeted by some passengers as a technology-deprived torture chamber. Yet despite its age and costs, the MD-80 remains a valued and dependable workhorse in airline fleets worldwide—which points to the many nuances in assessing flight safety at a time of heightened concern about aircraft maintenance.

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