Last of the line: KLM withdraws the last MD-11

 A salute for the last MD-11 upon arrival at Schiphol. Picture: KLM

A salute for the last MD-11 upon arrival at Schiphol. Picture: KLM

An iconic aircraft has just completed its last revenue flight.

When last Sunday KLM's MD-11 "Audrey Hepburn" landed at Schiphol, it closed a whole chapter of aviation history.

The beloved tri-jets, and I might include here its similar-looking predecessor, the DC-10 (that was withdrawn by its last operator, Biman of Bangladesh, earlier this year), were flown by a handful of airlines, but, as it happened also to the DC-9/MD-80 series they were progressively overshadowed by Boeing and Airbus more modern and efficient aircraft, as McDonnell Douglas was unable to keep up with the two giants (Boeing ended up buying McDonnell Douglas in 1997). For those interested in the story of McDonnell Douglas and how it lost the its battle to remain the third major aicraft manufacturer, see this article by the always interesting Cranky Flier.

 Last of the line: KLM's Audrey Hepburn arrives from Montreal. Picture: KLM

Last of the line: KLM's Audrey Hepburn arrives from Montreal. Picture: KLM

But you might still have a chance to fly the MD-11...!

As a last tribute to the MD-11 and, in a nice gesture towards its fans, KLM has organized three special MD-11 flights over The Netherlands in November for the select few...and you still have a chance to get one of the tickets (plus the return flight and the overnight stay in Amsterdam)...by playing the MD-11 quiz on a specially dedicated website that KLM has put together for the occasion: "Bye Bye MD-11".

It is a really cool game to play, but, as I already made it known to KLM, it has some usability issues that make it difficult to provide the right answer. For example, you might be asked the length of the MD-11 and given three options., however the right answer is none of them, you actually need to scroll the bar to a spot in between the three options near where you think the right figure is...Ok, I got it, but it is not too obvious and can be quite frustrating unless you stumble upon the right way to mark the solution! Hey KLM, some additional guidance might help!

  The end of an era. Picture: KLM

The end of an era. Picture: KLM

By the way, now that we are at it, a couple of curiosities about KLM and its relationship with McDonnell Douglas aircraft.

The first one is that KLM has flown all Douglas (later McDonnell Douglas) DC-series aircraft, starting with the DC-2 in 1934! 

Second is that all 10 MD-11s in KLMs fleet were named after remarkable woman from around the World: Florence Nightingale, Audrey Hepburn, Amy Johnson, Maria Montessori, Marie Curie, Annie Romein, Mother Theresa of Calcutta, Maria Callas, Anna Pavlova and Ingrid Bergman