View Full Version : Delta to Upgrade MD-88 and MD-90 Fleet With Enhanced Navigation and Flight Management

3rd Apr 2013, 20:14
This is huge news. I've read this on other boards but up until today, it was not announced to the public. 2030 active service, anyone? :)

Delta to Upgrade MD-88 and MD-90 Fleet With Enhanced Navigation and Flight Management... -- ATLANTA, April 3, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- (http://m.prnewswire.com/news-releases/delta-to-upgrade-md-88-and-md-90-fleet-with-enhanced-navigation-and-flight-management-systems-201297341.html)

ATLANTA, April 3, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --Delta Air Lines (NYSE: DAL) will outfit its fleet of 182 MD-88 and MD-90 aircraft as well as several flight simulators with standardized, state-of-the-art glass cockpits and GPS navigation that will improve efficiency, reduce environmental impact and position the airline to take advantage of procedural improvements outlined in the Federal Aviation Administration's Next Generation Air Transportation System.

(Logo: Login (http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20090202/DELTALOGO) )

The enhanced avionics suite, developed by Innovative Solutions & Support, Inc. (NASDAQ: ISSC), will allow the aircraft to fly shorter flight paths and take advantage of continuous-descent, Required Navigation Performance (RNAV) approaches to reduce fuel consumption, carbon emissions and noise levels a primary objective of NextGen. The addition of GPS capabilities as well as the incorporation of Data Link and ADS-B will allow pilots to fly safer as the three systems aid flight crews in identifying nearby air traffic, weather and terrain on flat panel displays in the cockpit.

Due to the lighter weight of the new equipment, Delta will see an immediate improvement in fuel economy while long-lasting benefits from the new flight decks include reductions in CO2 emissions by 80 million pounds annually and a 50 percent decrease in the aircraft noise footprint once NextGen procedures are fully implemented. The standardized flight decks will improve situational awareness for flight crews and are expected to increase operational flexibility, simplify maintenance and improve dispatch and on-time reliability.

"In addition to deploying technology enhancements, Delta continues to work closely with the FAA as it advances NextGen procedures many of which are being developed at key hub airports," said Steve Dickson, Delta's senior vice president-Flight Operations. "Delta continues to invest in NextGen and looks forward to the FAA's continued progress in systemwide implementation of these improvements, especially at these key hubs, which promise to deliver real savings as well as safety and efficiency enhancements.

"The cockpit upgrades also build on Delta's commitment to give our flight crews the advanced technology tools they need to perform their job safely and efficiently for our customers."

Installation of the enhanced flight deck technology across the MD-88 and MD-90 fleet is slated to begin in early 2014 and will be completed by IS&S technicians at Delta TechOps facilities. The process is expected to take approximately two years.

"We are delighted Delta has chosen Innovative Solutions and Support to upgrade its MD-88/-90 fleet," said Shahram Askarpour, president Innovative Solutions & Support. "The equipment provides cost-effective solutions for upgrading legacy avionics platforms with state-of-the-art technology and brings NextGen capabilities to mature air-transport aircraft."

Delta continues to enhance technology across its fleet including updates to nearly all Airbus and Boeing aircraft aimed at taking advantage of the performance and efficiency improvements that will be realized once the FAA fully implements the NextGen system.

Significant reductions in environmental impact, both in noise and emissions, as a result of these improvements, are part of Delta's continued social responsibility efforts. The airline has improved overall fuel-efficiency by an average of 1.7 percent from 2009 to 2012, exceeding goals set by the International Air Transportation Association. Since 2005, Delta has reduced its annual aircraft greenhouse gas emissions by 8.4 million metric tons, an 18.5 percent reduction.

3rd Apr 2013, 20:46
Interesting news. But not so sure about the IS&S thingys. Our fleet of 757s has been retrofitted with the IS&S flat panels. And the concensus of the pilots group is that the displays are crap. Poor programming and layout.

I know American went for the IS&S displays on 757/767s, does Delta have them to?

3rd Apr 2013, 21:01
That's a good question; I honestly do not know. With the MD80/90 package being a more recent development, hopefully some of the 757 bugs have been worked out.

Here is a picture from the company site:

Innovative Solutions & Support | Platforms and Systems (http://www.innovative-ss.com/platforms/index.asp?ID=73&L1=2&L2=4&L3=0&display=1)

3rd Apr 2013, 22:29
Worst, most counter intuitive, and situational awareness killing displays, I have ever experienced.

4th Apr 2013, 04:04
Possibly the first time that anyone has tried to greenwash an MD88. Still, that 0.08% reduction is, what, a $3M reduction in annual fuel costs.

Spooky 2
4th Apr 2013, 08:21
I believe FedEx is using the IS&S system in their 757's as well.

Heathrow Harry
4th Apr 2013, 13:12
Can't beleive they are upgrading these old tubs instead of replacing them -they are really grim (especially when full)

tells you more about the state of their finances than anything else I guess

4th Apr 2013, 13:15
Worst, most counter intuitive, and situational awareness killing displays, I have ever experienced.

I can agree with that! :ugh:

4th Apr 2013, 13:42
Is the IS&S system a whole different system, or just flat-panel LCD/TFT to replace the old glass CRT tube screens?
I guess they need to upgrade some of the actual avionics to comply with all the new FAA requirements.

I agree that the MD88 is not great (really long, old engines) but the MD90 has the IAE engines, so surely some service life left in it, right?

4th Apr 2013, 15:32
tells you more about the state of their finances than anything else I guess


DL is in great financial shape currently and has consecutively posted the highest profits when compared to UA/US/AA.

The reason they are upgrading the MD88/90 is simple. They are all paid for. So although the fuel consumption is higher than a -700/800 they are not paying 300k-500k per month in lease costs (per aircraft).

That saves tons of cash, which in turn means more money for investments and gas...

Furthermore, they will soon be receiving the first of 100 -900ERs and already have 10 -700s, 73 -800s, 56 A319s, 69 A320s, and soon to be 88 717s.

Definitely a different approach to fleet planning.

7Q Off
4th Apr 2013, 16:00
the -90 are fuel efficient.

But the 88 no. But if you use the 88 for short flights, 1 hr o similar the difference between fuel burn to a modern aircraft is not that big. You can probably compensate that extra cost with the fact that you don't pay leasing.

4th Apr 2013, 19:44
Why is this "huge news"?

5th Apr 2013, 03:43
Why is this huge news??

Because without this mod, the MD-80 fleet would become extinct in 5 years, as we know it. (Not counting 3rd world countries).

Seriously. This mod solidifies the longevity of McDonnell Douglas narrowbodies in America, which otherwise would continue to diminish. Think about this: You are not that far from truly ONLY seeing 737s and A320s in your domestic terminals...is that what you want? (save the RJs and decreasing 757s.)

Lastly, think from a historical perspective when considering the 75 year history of Douglas...

To anyone who appreciates history, nostalgia, Douglas or the MD twin design, this could not be better news. :D

5th Apr 2013, 03:48
7Q Off -

In fact, the MD88 can operate profitability, especially on flights under 1,000 NM.

Relative fuel efficiency, or lack thereof, is insignificant when weighed against the fact that the majority of the fleet is paid-off in full and the other 40% leased at basement rates. Factor in economies-of-scale and A+ internal support infrastructure and expertise, and suddenly it becomes a little more clear.

5th Apr 2013, 03:57
Booglebox -

Reportedly, the avg number of cycles for DL's MD90 fleet is only in the 20k ballpark figure. (Some 2nd hand frames as low as 15k) The MD90 is approved for 60k cycles. That would suggest that at 13-18 years old, the fleet is 1/3 through their useful lives (give or take). Potentially another 20 years.

The MD88 could have 10+ years of useful service life; assuming DL decide to keep it operating that long.

5th Apr 2013, 04:43
At the end of the day, what do you have. An MD88 and an MD90. Whoopee!:}

5th Apr 2013, 11:50
They can dust off and use the hangar on the south side of KATL where NWA retrofitted all their DC-9's and kept them about ten years longer.....

5th Apr 2013, 12:00
No mention then of a possible engine retrofit. It would seem logical to pursue the chance of a 30-40% reduction in fuel burn on airframes with so many cycles/hours left.

Some years ago there was speculation of the RB 715 and Pratt PW6000 as potential candidates. The PW weighing in quite close to the original weight of the JT8D-219 and less than the RB 715 but with higher max thrust.

5th Apr 2013, 12:47
Lousy displays, as those of you who've flown with them seem to agree. I have no idea, having never dealt with them.

However, this saved the aforementioned couple of million $ per year in fuel and reduces maintenance costs and failure rates, which speeding unscheduled repair when needed.

All these aircraft, as was said, have lots of cycles left and operate in short-haul environments where fuel burn is much less a factor than is dispatch reliability and low capital cost.

Delta does march to a different drummer from a fleet perspective. So, far, it works exceedingly well. They're consistently making money where other mainline carriers struggle. The 717's are an excellent case in point, as is this decision.

8th Apr 2013, 00:36

8th Apr 2013, 17:37
This is not the display layout as shown on the IS&S page as per post # 3.
The horizon is probably better but the rest...

8th Apr 2013, 19:22
Can "those in the know" give more background as of why they dislike these systems ?

8th Apr 2013, 21:30
I can give you a few of my own observations re the IS&S displays.

-The Primary Flight Display (PFD) is really cluttered, owing no least to the fact that everything from the Navigation Display (ND) is copied on the bottom part. This would be an ideal composite picture if the ND faild. Otherwise a useless complication.
-The Horizon is small and colours are somewhat ambiquous, for example the magenta colour of the flight director. This has improved somewhat with newer generation displays.
-The speedtape is, well a bad design.
-Selections on the Display Control Panel are in a different order than on the display in front of the pilot. A basic error in human factors and motor memory issues.
-Selection of radar and EGPWS on the displays is, simply silly.
-Programming of the picture on the ND is bad. I know nothing about computer programming, but every TCAS target has a big black box around it that covers items "below" or under it. Really a big step back from the old CRTs.
-Brightness of displays is limited in really bright sunlight.

I am sure to be forgetting something. The idea is fair enough, but these displays really have taken some getting used to. I have flown both the 737NG and 777 simulators, and the displays there were very easy to use from the first minute.

Spooky 2
9th Apr 2013, 08:02
This selection is a economics 101. There are no symbol generators with the IS&S displays and thus the replacement cost associted with the SB is eliminated. SB's are very expensive and believe it or not, they are getting hard to find as the OEM systems become more dated. Might not be the perfect answer, but still not a bad decision on DAL part.

Boeing offers a system to upgrade the OEM 757/767 flight displays. Have no idea the cost but I bet it's at least five times more, if not one just one dime?

9th Apr 2013, 13:11
Another factor in upgrading is training cost.

Whilst the cost of crew training for the electronics will be significant, my guess is that it will be lower than training for a new machine? That would also mean training for ground crews and so on and so on.