In an increasingly modern aviation industry, many enthusiasts like to go the other way and seek out classic aircraft to photograph or even fly on. We recently took a look at the world’s oldest active Boeing 747s and 767s, but what about on a more general scale? As it happens, there are several active aircraft with more than half a century of service behind them!
Aeronaves TSM has a significant proportion of half-century-old aircraft. Photo: Getty Images
ncient Mexican DC-9s
According to data from ch-aviation.com, the world’s oldest active commercial aircraft can presently be found at Mexican carrier Aeronaves TSM. This charter and cargo specialist has an incredible 11 McDonnell Douglas DC-9s that are over the 50-year-old mark!
These classic rear-engined freighters date back to the late 1960s and early 1970s. The very oldest example is XA-TIG, at 53.93 years old. The aircraft will celebrate the 54th anniversary of its rollout next month. It flew passengers for Texas International and Air National from 1967 to 1984, before being converted for cargo use. It joined Aeronaves TSM in 2017.
Classic Boeing jets
Boeing is another US manufacturer which has produced aircraft that remain in service today after more than half a century in action. Data from ch-aviation shows that the oldest of these is FAP354, a 737-200 that flies for Fuerza Aérea del Perú (the Peruvian Air Force).
The USAF has five 707s (designated as E-8Cs) that are over 50 years old. Photo: SuneKuma via Flickr
Clocking in at an impressive 51.64 years old, this classic twinjet began its career at Aer Lingus way back in 1970. Meanwhile, the US Air Force is also no stranger to vintage Boeing aircraft. Indeed, the USAF has five Boeing 707-300s over 50 years old.
These are designated as E-8Cs, and serve airborne battle management roles. The oldest example is 51.55 years old, and bears the registration 96-0043. This quadjet started life with the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1970. It also flew freight for Omega Air and AeroBrasil Cargo in the 1990s. It has been in its current role with the USAF since November 1997.
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Twin Otters still going strong
As far as turboprop-powered aircraft are concerned, there are also several that have surpassed the half-century mark. For example, ch-aviation’s data lists 20 examples of the de Havilland Canada DHC-6-300 ‘Twin Otter‘ that are 50 years old or more.
Air Loyauté operates the world’s oldest active Twin Otter. Photo: Gérard via Wikimedia Commons
The oldest of these classic Twin Otters is F-OIJI, which continues to fly for Air Loyauté in New Caledonia, aged 51.62 years old. This aircraft began its life in Australia before globetrotting to several different carriers and ending up at Air Loyauté in 2009.
Close behind F-OIJI in terms of age is a 51.58-year-old Twin Otter belonging to Solomon Airlines. Registered as H4-OTA, this vintage turboprop also has a history of operations. It touched down in the Solomon Islands in 1996, although it has since come and gone a few times. It is now in its third spell at Solomon Airlines, which began in 2013.
Did you know that there are such old aircraft still flying commercially? Have you ever traveled on one of these half-century-old planes? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments!
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