McDonnell Douglas DC 10-10: The Wide-bodied Tri-jet SolutionEven while Boeing and Pan American were planning to launch the wide-bodied era with the Boeing 747, the Europeans were studying the problems of coping with the dense airline traffic on the world's busiest air routes, invariably short-haul city pairs. Meanwhile, in the United States, both Douglas and Lockheed, traditional rivals of a previous airliner era, studied the problem with a different set of criteria from the Europeans.
The two companies tried to split the difference between the size of the Boeing 747 and that of the supplanted Boeing 707/DC-8 family. It was a simple equation. Halfway between 380 and 160 was 270 in mixed class seating layouts, U.S. transcontinental range was essential. To attain this objective, three engines were necessary. Douglas and Lockheed both placed one on each wing, and one in the rear.
The DC-10-10 first flew on 24 October 1970, three weeks ahead of the Tristar, and went into service with American Airlines on 5 August 1971. National was the third airline to put the aircraft, described by American as of "unprecendented dependability," on its routes. This airline had, on 14 October 1969, already ordered some long-range DC-10-30s, as it had managed to enter the transocean market by successfully applying for routes from Miami to Europeóanother erosion of Pan American's case for acquisition.