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 well over half a century of service behind them!
Old reliable propeller-driven planes
Some world’s oldest remaining aircraft when it comes to passenger planes are examples of the classic Douglas DC-3. As Simple Flying explored last year, more than 16,000 examples of this classic US design were produced, largely for military purposes. As of last year, more than 170 examples were said to still be active after eight decades of service.
According to data from ATDB.aero, TransNorthern Aviation is an operator with several active DC-3s in its fleet. Its most recent acquisition dates back to 1945, and it recently had an 81-year old example as well. However, this was damaged in a crash in August.
In Finland, a 1942-built DC-3 registered as OH-LCH also operates special passenger flights for members of the Finnish DC Association. According to the group’s website, OH-LCH flies for around 100 hours a year. It is based at Helsinki’s Malmi Airport (HEM).
Slightly younger than these vintage aircraft is Lineas Aéreas Candeo’s 1952-built DC-3, which remains active aged 69 years old. ATDB.aero also lists 24 active Convair 580s whose years of production range from 1952 to 1959. New Zealand’s Air Chathams recently retired one after a 68-year career, replacing it with a rather more modern ATR 72-500.
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.com shows that the oldest is FAP354, a 737-200 that flies for Fuerza Aérea del Perú (the Peruvian Air Force).
Clocking in at an impressive 51.64 years old, this classic jet 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 regional aircraft are concerned, there are also several examples 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.
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!