When walking down the street, pause a bit and take a look around ‒ how many 30-40 year old cars can you see around? Most probably, old cars in the streets do not catch anybody off the guard. But how would you feel about flying on a plane built in 1974?
The majority of the oldest jets ‒ Boeing 737-200s
Among the oldest passenger aircraft still flying today, the majority are Boeing models, the first-generation 737s, which took to the skies in the early 1970s. While the last 737-100 are long gone, the same cannot be said about the Boeing 727-200: there are few airlines around the world still operating them.
Canadian operator Nolinor Aviation could boast currently having a true “greybear” that was delivered to the company in 2014. The airline is flying Boeing 737-200, which was manufactured in 1974. The over 46-year-old 737-200 jet is currently registered as C-GNLK. The oldie has been passed to different owners twelve times in a row, starting from Transavia.
The second oldest Boeing in the world also belongs to Nolinor Aviation. The 737-200 jet, registered as C-GNLE, was made in 1975 and is likely to be a peer to the oldest, still flying aircraft in the world. Previously, starting from Aer Lingus, the 45-year-old jet had five different owners. The aircraft was delivered to Nolinor Aviation in 2017. The C-GNLE was put into operation after over 20,715 hours of maintenance and upgrades performed over a period of 10 weeks, during which its cabin was supported with multiple configurations, according to Nolinor Aviation.
In the third place of the oldest first-generation Boeing 737-200s, registered as YV3434, belongs to the government of Venezuela and is operated by Conviasa, the flag carrier of the country. The jet currently counts its 44th year in passenger service. Since the day of its service entry in 1976 until these days, the aircraft has always been operating for public authorities of Venezuela.
Another 737-200 plane, EP-AGA, only flew for the needs of the Iranian government officials throughout its service life. Made in 1977, the aircraft is now counting 43 years in the skies.
One more airline with a Boeing 737-200 is Canadian operator Air Inuit, which received the jet in 2010. Compared to carriers listed above, Air Inut’s 737-200 currently counts 42 years in active operations of passenger flights. Being delivered directly from Boeing factory to its first owner Air Gabon in 1978, the aircraft registered as C-GMAI had operated for four different airlines in total.
Reason the oldest aircraft still in use
As first-generation Boeing 737-200s may not provide the comfort that today’s passenger is accustomed to, at first glance it might seem strange that some air carriers still operate passenger flights with such old aircraft. However, this choice is reasonable.
Having seven Boeing 737-200s in its fleet, the Canadian airline Nolinor Aviation explains seeking operational flexibility for its passengers as 737-200s are equipped to operate under more difficult conditions than usual. For example, first-generation 737 сan land on unpaved surfaces in North Canada, as well as in and out of remote gravel strips, ice strips and short and narrow runways.
With only around 77 Boeing 737-200s remaining in active service worldwide, air carrier’s Nolinor Aviation fleet is now the world’s largest.