Delta Airlines MD-80 airplane model. For operators of the DC-9 who sought to offset rising fuel costs of the mid-1970s, McDonnell Douglas proposed new versions of the DC-9-50. The DC-9 Super 80 was launched in October 1977, with wingspan increased by 14 ft. 5 in., and fuselage length increased by 14 ft. 2 in., allowing up to 172 passengers to be carried. In June of 1983 the company adopted a new system of MD designations, breaking away from the old Douglas Commercial (DC) system. The Super 80 thus became the MD-80.