A Fond Farewell for the MD-11

Today – Sunday, 26 October – KLM’s last commercial flight with an MD-11 touched down at Schiphol. A fond farewell, that will be festively repeated in November, with three roundtrips over the Netherlands for fans of this popular jetliner.

The first MD-11

KLM’s first MD-11 landed at Schiphol in 1993 – on 10 December at 11.00, to be exact. It was stormy, with gusting gale-force winds causing delays at Schiphol. The PH-KCA “Amy Johnson” landed safely at the airport and entered commercial service on 24 January 1994, flying to Lagos. KLM had ordered ten MD-11s and took out options for ten more, which it eventually never used.

The arrival of the MD-11 got extensive coverage in the KLM staff magazine Wolkenridder. The new addition to the fleet was praised for its functional flexibility, which was considered a must, because developments in the airline industry were much the same as they are today. As the Wolkenridder put it: “The current challenges in the global airline industry are not so much caused by a decline in demand, but primarily by declining fares, a trend brought on by fierce competition and customer expectations.”

1934 Aankomst Uiver

The problem solver

The fact that the MD-11 cabin was relatively easy to reconfigure was seen as an option to swiftly respond to seasonal fluctuations and changing market circumstances. The cabin could be simply converted from full passenger to combi or full freighter, or it could prepared for a single-class charter flight. In short, the MD-11 was a problem solver, but also a plane that attracted lots of fans. Many pilots and plane spotters have sung the praises of the MD-11’s characteristic features and idiosyncrasies, and many of them will greet its departure with heavy hearts.

A worthy send-off

We’ll be giving the MD-11 a worthy send-off, but will also be marking the end of an 80-year partnership between KLM and Douglas, and later McDonnell-Douglas. KLM is the only airline to have operated all of the series-built DC types ever produced by this manufacturer. It began with the DC-2 in 1934, which KLM operated until 1946. In fact, KLM’s legendary PH-AJU “Uiver” (Stork), which won the handicap section of the London to Melbourne Race in 1934, was a DC-2.


The arrival of the DC-8 in 1960 marked the start of the jet age for KLM. An important step forward that made air transport accessible to a much larger group of people. The predecessor of the MD-11 was the DC-10, which first joined the KLM fleet in 1972. In the late 1990s, McDonnell-Douglas was taken over by Boeing, and production of the MD-11 was stopped in 2000, after 200 of these aircraft had rolled off the line. Nowadays, spare parts are hard to come by, which makes maintenance costly. Technological innovations have also overtaken the MD-11. This month, KLM will be the last airline in the world to operate a passenger flight with the MD-11, a true honour for such a faithful customer of this legendary aircraft manufacturer.

What’s your memory from the MD-11? Share them with us on our interactive timeline. You’ll also get a chance to test your knowledge in our special MD-11 quiz with great prices, like an MD-11 flight simulator session. 6 prizes will be given each day and at the end of the campaign, one person is able to win two return tickets to the Farewell flight here in Amsterdam. Have a look at: http://klmf.ly/1t3lETx.

Posted by:   Frido Ogier  | 
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Was able to fly back with Audrey Hepburn arriving last Friday and am glad To have shared the experience ofvthe MD11

Caroline Kraakman

I flew with Audrey to Toronto Oct 9 and I flew back to Amsterdam with Maria Montessori, Oct 17… I flew several times to Canada with Audrey…. What will become of me, without these ladies, guiding me to Canada??? ;)


this plane took us home to Toronto yesterday… Thank you!!!

Winfred Buady

I feel it is sad to see MD-11 aircraft decommissioned or taken out of service for scraps due to cost of spare parts and some problems. Honestly my opinion is that for such good aircraft to down this way why don’t the company give them out to poorer countries to keep it flying. Or better still donate them to non profitable organisations like the OBIS to carry out eye operations, the doctors that fly out to carry out surgeries on people with facial and other affected bodies defects, the list goes on and on. Your great contribution to save lives would be welcome and go a long way to help those who can’t afford cost of medical treatments. Please give this a serious thought.


While your motive is indeed noble & altruistic, it is fraught with grave risks.

The fact that the MD-11 managed to remain in service with KLM for two decades reflects on the high quality of KLM’s engineering & technical team, and not so much to do with the aircraft per se (the MD-11 fell out of favor with all major airlines long ago).


Good riddance!!! , try sitting on a 10hr flight with those tiny TVs on the aisles. Its about time KLM upgraded these guys.

Fish Exist


Fish Exist

Edit: What?

Fish Exist

Were this not such a great airline I would troll you on their site


This aircraft is famous for catching on fire and having its engines fall off. Good riddance. All of these aircraft need to be grounded. The skies will now be safer.

edwin baars

my question why send it to the america and let them destroy it and why not take one of thwem to some museums instead

Fish Exist

Het Aviodrome in Lelystad mischien?

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