View Full Version : Oldest Airliner?

19th Jul 2004, 12:47
Here's a good question for you:

What is the oldest commercial airliner (prop or jet) in current service?

19th Jul 2004, 13:08
Do the Dragon Rapides operating from Duxford count?

19th Jul 2004, 15:25
Need to clarify (or categorize) the question first.

Do you mean passenger-carrying or do freighters qualify ?
Either way, I'm pretty sure the answer is a DC-3, and the country is probably Colombia or maybe Bolivia.

Oldest jet is either somewhere in the former USSR or else flying for a certain US airline I won't identify but whose name begins Northw ;) .

Lu Zuckerman
19th Jul 2004, 15:44
I donít know if they are still operating but they were running scheduled passenger service using Ford Tri Motors flying from the islands in lake Erie to the Ohio Mainland.

:E :E

19th Jul 2004, 16:29
Lu, time flies :(. The Island Airlines operation out of Port Clinton ended in 1972 when their TriMotor crashed (it has since been rebuilt). The EAA does still offer rides in their Ford, but I don't know if that qualifies under the rules of this question :8

19th Jul 2004, 18:04
Candidates would have to include:
- DC-3s
- Beech 18s
- Grumman Goose
- Ju 52/3m (assuming sightseeing flights by JU-Air count)

I'm sure there are pre-WW2 or early WW2 examples of each of the above still in service. So it would be a question of looking at individual airframes to see which is in fact the oldest.

Lots of DC-3s in service, for example, may be late WW2 build, and so potentially "younger" than other airframes. Likewise, although the Beech 18 design is very old, production actually went on for quite a while, so a particular airframe need not be that old.

20th Jul 2004, 07:48
I was more thinking of still in regular service with an airline, rather than a privately owned aircraft which is available for charter.

20th Jul 2004, 12:46
I was more thinking of still in regular service with an airline, rather than a privately owned aircraft which is available for charter.

So was I.

There are DC-3s in airline service in places such as Canada, South Africa, Bolivia, and no doubt others. I know of one DC-3 that is entering service after extensive refurbishment, this Friday. Scheduled passenger service. (And, of course, there are many airlines all over the world offering 'nostalgia' flightseeing on DC-3s.)

The are Grumman G-21 Gooses (a 1937 design) in service with Pen-Air in Alaska and Pacific Coastal in Canada. Scheduled passenger service.

There are Beech 18s in service in Canada (at least). Scheduled passenger service.

The Ju 52/3ms I mentioned are in service with Swiss airline JU-Air. They often nostalgia sightseeing flights. They don't go from A to B (usually), but they'll take your money to take you up. Isn't that sort of the definition of an airline?

20th Jul 2004, 12:55
Lufthansa's Ju-52 also does revenue flights (I think LH publishes a schedule and you can book via their website), was built around 1936, and served with Lufthansa and the Luftwaffe amongst many operators.

And as a divertisement: what would be the highest houred commercial aircraft still in service? A decade or two ago a Provincetown-Boston Airlines DC-3 had a phenomenal number of hours on the airframe - something like 150,000 if I recall. Some of BA's 747-136s were over 100,000 when they were retired. Anyone know of more...?

20th Jul 2004, 15:35
I think PBA's DC-3 N136PB had something like 86,000 hours towards the end of its PBA carreer. I found a website that quotes it as now having some 91,400 hours. This was the high-time plane at the time, but of course numerous 747s have now exceeded that total, and are in 100,000+ hours range. Lots of long-range flights, day in and day out, will do that for you. There's no way something like a DC-3 can compete with that kind of flying pattern. On the other hand, although I have no idea how many cycles, N136PB has accumulated, I would bet it surely has many many more than any 747.

20th Jul 2004, 16:05
Not as many as I thought then! Is N136PB still flying? :ok:

You're right about the cycles, PBA's aircraft must have operated at least half a dozen or more sectors a day I should imagine.

21st Jul 2004, 00:02
PBA used to operate out of Boston, to Hyannis and other places around the state. The sectors were rarely over 20-30 minutes, so they probably did a dozen or more legs a day. In the winter they took the aircraft to Florida, and ran them out of Tampa or Sarasota, I believe. The PBA machines must have a whack of cycles on 'em.

21st Jul 2004, 16:25
N136PB is now NC18121 and at last count it had 91,402 hours. It's based at Pearson Field, Vancouver, Washington (state) but I don't know whether or not it's currently airworthy. Has a valid CofA according to the FAA, but the last time I passed by (2002) was missing one engine.

Agaricus bisporus
22nd Jul 2004, 00:38
spaggy, the plural of Goose is usually held to be "Geese".

"Gooses" is a verb, and I'm sure you didn't mean that...;)

22nd Jul 2004, 13:29
the plural of Goose is usually held to be "Geese".

When applied to the bird, yes. When applied to the Grumman G-21, most prefer "Gooses."

23rd Jul 2004, 08:43
I understand a DC3 is about to re commence scheduled air services in the Kingdom of Tonga.

24th Jul 2004, 11:27
EAA's 1929 Tri Motor was just in Port Clinton, where it was well received by the local Chapter, and inundated with rides. It is definitely not scheduled, nor is it charter, more like "pay as you go" :)

While in Port Clinton, we got to see the airframe that the local Chapter are working on - a restoration project of a Tri Motor. Then in Kalamazoo, we got to see Greg Herrick's immaculately restored Tri Motor, originally Ford's own Tri Motor - all polished aluminium, brand new skin, with any paint work in navy blue, every little part that could shine, did, including the little brass buckets to catch the oil drips...... It was just gorgeous. Hopefully it will be coming to Oshkosh at some point.

26th Jul 2004, 01:16
When wait for your AA departure at San Juan you'll almost always see one or more DC-3 departures. I don't know whether they are flightseeing or freight. For years you'd see Air Haiti C-46 freighters at SJU. There is an area east of the pax terminal at SJU that has a number of oldies in various states of repair and disrepair.

Winair (St Maarten) has retired their high-cycle DHC-6 Twotter. IIRC, it had around 130,000 cycles.

26th Jul 2004, 01:56
Buffalo Airways still operates a DC-3 sked out of Yellowknife, I believe. There used to be a link to it somewhere, including the radio transmissions, pax boarding announcements, engine run-ups etc. I used to have the link, but lost it in the great hd wipe of 2004. I'll see if I can dig it up.

Sorry people I can't find the link. Drat!!