3 Engines – 2 Under the Wings, 1 on the Tail

There are currently no 3 engine jets in production. The three airliners that have 2 engines under the wings and 1 in the tail are the McDonnell-Douglas DC-10 and MD-11, and the Lockheed L1011 Tristar. From the mid 1970s until 2000 Delta was the largest operator of the L1011 but today only a couple are still flying, none in North America. Place your mouse over the red links below to see the illustration highlighted.



  • The DC-10 was produced from 1968 to 1989, 446 aircraft in all. Of the 134 remaining in service today, about 40% belong to FedEx as freighters and another 35% belong to the U.S. Air Force as transports and aerial refueling tankers (designated as a KC-10 model). There are no DC-10s remaining is passenger service.
  • McDonnell-Douglas produced the MD-11 from 1990 to 2001 but it did not sell well and only 200 were built. There are 156 remaining in service today, with nearly two thirds of those belonging to FedEx and UPS as freighters.


McDonnell-Douglas DC-10 & MD-11
Both of these planes are very similar and based on the same design. The MD-11 is simply a more modern version. There are a couple of major differences that are visible to spotters. All MD-11s have large wingtip extensions called winglets. Also, the tailcone at the rear of the MD-11 fuselage is wedge shaped while it is rounded on the DC-10.
An MD-11 is longer than a DC-10.
Some FedEx planes will have the name “MD-10” on the nose under the cockpit windows. This designation is only a cockpit upgrade from Boeing to give a DC-10 the same advanced instruments as an MD-11 and eliminates the Flight Engineer position from the crew.
3 engine McDonnell-Douglas DC-10

3 engine McDonnell-Douglas DC-11



Click for photos of DC-10 and MD-11 aircraft

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