Originally launched as MD-95 by McDonnell Douglas, the 717-200 was a rare jetliner produced by Boeing in 1997, when it took over the rival. At the time, airframer saw the project as an opportunity to offer an aircraft smaller than the 737.
After entering service in 1999, the 717-200 was slow to obtain orders, but that did not stop Boeing from planning a larger variant. However, the crisis triggered after the September 11 attacks and the entry of competitors such as Bombardier CRJ and Embraer E-Jet led the US manufacturer to announce the end of production in 2005 with only 155 units assembled.
With a capacity for up to 117 passengers and a range of 3,815 km, the 717-200 proved to be a good plane and even today it flies on some airlines, the most notorious, Delta Air Lines, which has 85 jets. In addition to it, Hawaiian operates another 19 aircraft and Qantas Link, 20 units.
The model’s fourth customer, Volotea, however, ended operations with the 717-200 last Sunday. Headquartered in Spain, the carrier used two of its 19 planes until long ago, which flew in Italy, ending a decade-long career.
Still, the Boeing plane has most of the fleet active even 15 years after the end of production. This situation is unlikely to change anytime soon as Delta and Hawaiian intend to keep the 717 in service until at least 2025.
Ironically, Boeing currently resents a line of smaller capacity jets that can dispute orders with Airbus’ A220. The US planemaker came close to acquiring most of Embraer’s commercial aircraft program in 2020, but dropped out of the deal in April.