McDONNELL Douglas yesterday celebrated the certification of its new MD-90 airliner by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in a ceremony at the National Airport in Washington. The aircraft, designed to improve operational cleanliness and sound levels, is now cleared for its first deliveries. The MD-90 was designed by McDonnell Douglas to meet stringent existing environmental standards and new demands expected into the next century. In future, airlines face having to meet strict engine-noise and emission standards, particularly in North America and Europe. The MD-90 has shown under test noise levels about 24 decibels below the standards set by existing regulations. The twin-engine, intermediate-range aircraft is powered by V2500 jet engines from International Aero Engines, a consortium of engine manufacturers from five nations. In addition to a quieter flight, the aircraft has reduced emissions and improved fuel efficiency. Delta Airlines, which helped launch the MD-90 programme in 1989, will receive the first MD-90 off the assembly line in February for service on routes in the US. The aircraft is being built at the McDonnell Douglas facility in Long Beach, California, with another 20 to be assembled in China for use of mainland carriers under the Trunkliner Agreement which saw China produce the MD-82 series. The launch of the MD-90 was the culmination of more than three million hours of work by McDonnell Douglas workers, with the company having invested about US$250 million in its development. In tests this month, three MD-90s have flown a total of 1,490 flights for a total of 1,906 flight test hours. The company said every MD-90 development target has been met on or ahead of schedule and within budget. The builder has 156 commitments for the aircraft, including 72 firm orders.