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The MD-11 is a medium- to long-range widebody airliner, with two engines mounted on underwing pylons and a third engine at the base of the vertical stabilizer. It is based on the DC-10, but features a stretched fuselage, increased wingspan with winglets, refined airfoils on the wing and tailplane, new engines and increased use of composites.
The MD-11 features a two-crew cockpit that incorporates six interchangeable CRT-units and advanced Honeywell VIA 2000 computers. The cockpit design is called Advanced Common Flightdeck (ACF) and is shared with the Boeing 717. Flight deck features include an Electronic Instrument System, a dual Flight Management System, a Central Fault Display System, and Global Positioning System. Category IIIb automatic landing capability for bad-weather operations and Future Air Navigation Systems are available.
The MD-11 was one of the first commercial designs to employ a computer-assisted pitch stability augmentation system that featured a fuel ballast tank in the tailplane, and a partly computer-driven horizontal stabilizer. Updates to the software package made the airplane's handling characteristics in manual flight similar to the DC-10, despite a smaller tailplane to reduce drag and increase fuel efficiency.
The MD-11 incorporates hydraulic fuses not included in the initial DC-10 design, to prevent catastrophic loss of control in event of hydraulic failure.
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