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C-9A/C Nightingale

The C-9 is a twin-engine, T-tailed, medium-range, swept-wing jet aircraft used primarily for Air Mobility Command's aeromedical evacuation mission. The Nightingale is a modified version of the McDonnell Douglas Aircraft Corporation's DC-9. It is the only aircraft in the inventory specifically designed for the movement of litter and ambulatory patients.

The C-9A's airlift capability to carry 40 litter patients, 40 ambulatory and four litter patients, or various combinations thereof, provides the flexibility for Air Mobility Command's worldwide aeromedical evacuation role. A hydraulically operated folding ramp allows efficient loading and unloading of litter patients and special medical equipment.

The plane has:

The 375th Airlift Wing at Scott Air Force Base, Ill., operates C-9A Nightingales for Air Mobility Command. C-9A's are assigned to the 374th Airlift Wing at Yokota Air Base, Japan, for use in the Pacific theater. C-9s also are assigned to the 435th Airlift Wing at Rhein-Main Air Base, Germany, for use in the European and Middle East theaters. The C-9A Nightingale demonstrates its uniqueness and versatility daily by its ability to serve not only military, but Department of Veterans Affairs and civilian hospitals throughout the world, using military and commercial airfields.

The C-9 aircraft provides intra theater logistic support to Naval forces worldwide. The C-9 aircraft was procured as a commercial derivative aircraft certified under an FAA Type Certificate. Throughout its life, the aircraft have been operated and organically and commercially supported by the Navy using a combination of Navy and FAA processes, procedures and certifications. It continues to be maintained organically and commercially and relies on COTS/NDI components to support airworthiness. Aircraft modification efforts are turnkey projects (non-recurring engineering, procurement, installation, test and certification) implemented as part of competitively awarded maintenance contracts.


Primary Function Aeromedical evacuation
Contractor McDonnell Douglas Corporation
Power Plant Two Pratt & Whitney JT8D-9A turbofan engines
Thrust 14,500 pounds (6,525 kilograms) each engine
Length 119 feet, 3 inches (35.7 meters)
Wingspan 93 feet, 3 inches (27.9 meters)
Height 27 feet, 5 inches (8.2 meters)
Maximum Takeoff Weight 108,000 pounds (48,600 kilograms)
Range More than 2,000 miles (1,739 nautical miles)
Ceiling 35,000 feet (10,606 meters)
Speed 565 mph (Mach 0.86) at 25,000 feet (7583.3 meters), with maximum takeoff weight
Load 40 litter patients or four litters and 40 ambulatory patients or other combinations
Crew Eight (pilot, co-pilot, flight mechanic, two flight nurses and three aeromedical technicians)
Date Deployed August 1968
Unit Cost$17 million
Inventory Active force, 10; ANG, 0; Reserve, 0

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Maintained by Robert Sherman
Originally created by John Pike
Updated Thursday, December 24, 1998 8:13:37 AM