CAAC's fleet during the 1980s was an odd mix of vintage and modern types ranging from IL-14s to Tridents to A310s. One of the new types that was chosen for replacement of the short-medium haul HS Trident 2s and Ilyushin IL-18s was the McDonnell Douglas MD-80. In fact the MD-82/83 was the first western type to be license constructed in China, when in 1987 the first of 35 aircraft were assembled by the Shanghai Aviation Industrial Corporation. This initial success would no doubt help lead McDonnell Douglas down the ill-fated MD-90 Trunkliner path they followed, however despite the Trunkliner's failure and though eclipsed in the 1990s by Boeing 737s, and later A320s, the MD-80 would continue to be a major component of the fleet of several Chinese airlines into the 2000s.
CAAC's first MD-80, B-2101, was delivered from the USA in December 1983 along with her sister B-2102. These first two aircraft were joined by three more (B-2103-5) in late 1985. The first Chinese assembled aircraft was B-2106 delivered on July 31, 1987.
As CAAC gradually split up in the late 1980s its fleet was apportioned to the six new Government run airlines that would take its place. China Eastern inherited three MD-80s from CAAC and gradually grew its fleet to thirteen examples. B-2127 was the 12th aircraft assembled in China. The MD-80s were a core component of the medium haul fleet during the 1990s but as early as 1998 the airline signed an agreement with GECAS to replace them with A320s. The majority of the MD-80s left the fleet from 1999-2000 however at least three examples B-2127, 2129, 2131 continued in service until 2007.
B-2127 was ferried to Marana as N511JZ and passed through the hands of A&W Aeronautic Service Inc before sale to Venezolana in 2011 as YV514T.
The largest operator of MD-80s in China was without a doubt China Northern Airlines whose fleet reached 27 aircraft and eventually passed to China Southern when it absorbed its Northern neighbour in 2003. Of the 35 aircraft built in China 30 were MD-82s and went to either China Eastern or China Northern whilst the last 5 were MD-83s which never operated in China. These five aircraft were exported back to the USA and joined TWA.
It is a little bit annoying that we don't have either a CAAC or China Northern MD-82 in 1:400 and the only evidence in this scale to show of this important Chinese type is Gemini's recent MD-82 release, for which they have thankfully fixed their MD-80 mould, and several CZ and MU Phoenix examples on a aslightly dodgy mould. See the MD-80 mould review for more details.
Both China Eastern and China Northern (and later China Southern) also operated the MD-90. Here's a comparison of the two side by side in China eastern's livery. For more information on China eastern's MD-90s see my blog post " China Eastern's 90s Renewal: A300s and the last Mad Dogs".
I'm Richard Stretton: a fan of classic airliners and airlines who enjoys exploring their history through my collection of die-cast airliners. If you enjoy the site please donate whatever you can to help keep it running: