While the past year has seen the rise of the ‘preighter’, cargo-passenger combination aircraft have slowly declined. With a history spanning over half a century, how many Boeing 737 Combi airplanes are still active in the skies today?
The Boeing 737 was the world’s best-selling aircraft for decades before the Airbus A320 overtook it in total orders in November 2019. It was the first commercial jet ever to surpass the 10,000 milestone in 2012, and as of April 2021, Boeing had received a total of 14,693 orders for the 737 family.
Boeing also offered a few of its versions in a combi variant. The planemaker produced a total of 125 of the 737-200C, 737-300C, 737-400C, and eventually the 737-700C. However, only a handful of operators of the Boeing 737 Combi remain.
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According to data retrieved from the ch-aviation database, 13 carriers are operating a total of 36 active Boeing 737 Combi aircraft. Nearly half of these, all 737-700Cs, are the military version known as the Boeing C-40 Clipper and operated by the United States Navy.
Another two, both Boeing 737-400Cs approaching 32 years old, are in the care of the United States National Nuclear Security Administration, a federal agency ‘responsible for safeguarding national security through the military application of nuclear science’.
Canada topping the list
The remaining 19 Boeing 737 Combis are in service with carriers operating in remote locations, the majority of them located in Canada. With its main base at Kujjuaq Airport in Quebec, Air Inuit has three active 737-200Cs in its fleet, all close to or just over 40 years. Air Inuit operates domestic services to Labrador, Nunavik, and Nunavut.
Canadian North operates one 737-200C and two 737-400Cs. It acquired the latter two when merging with First Air in November 2019. The holly Inuit-owned airline also operates scheduled passenger services to communities in the Northwest Territories, Nunavik, and Nunavut, with a slogan reading ‘Fly the Arctic’.
Charter airline Chrono Aviation, based out of Québec City International Airport, also has a 38-year-old 737-200C in its fleet. Two Combi 737-200s are also deployed by Canadian commodities corporation Glencore.
Meanwhile, Montreal-based charter carrier Nolinor is still operating as many as four 737-200 Combi aircraft. Two are just over four decades old. However, one has passed the 45 mark, while another is still just over 36. The youngest of the group is a 737-200QC, which allows for conversion for either 130 passengers or a combination of passengers and cargo.
In service of the UN
In other parts of the world, Philippino leisure carrier SEAir International owns one active 737-200C, delivered just this January after a 40-year long history with FedEx, Alaska Airlines, and South African carriers Bionic Aviation and Fair Aviation.
Meanwhile, in Africa, Aviatrade Congo still operates a 737-200C over half a century of age. A younger model, a 28-year-old 737-400C, is owned by South African Safair but leased to the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service.
Have you ever flown on a 737 Combi? What was your experience? Leave a comment below and tell us about it.