News that SkyWest is retiring its remaining Embraer EMB-120 Brasilias prompted us to come up with a list of 10 other veteran types still being operated by airlines, including as freighters. The data comes from Flight International’s World Airliner Census, compiled using Flightglobal’s Ascend Fleets database.
Airbus’s original widebody is still in fairly widespread service, 40 years after the type’s entry into service, with 216 examples in airline fleets around the world, many of them in central Asia and the Far East and a substantial number operated as freighters. Iran’s Mahan Air has 16 on its books, 13 of them the later A300-600 variant. FedEx, UPS Airlines and DHL subsidiary European Air Transport are the only other operators with a fleet in double figures.
Only four of the first version of Boeing’s only trijet, which first flew in 1963, remain in service, three of them in Latin America. Its stretched sister – the 727-200, which followed in 1967 – is a bit more common, with 83 still in airline fleets, virtually all of them freighters. Colombian cargo and charter carrier Aerosucre has a single -100 and a -200 in service.
Our database shows that there are 25 of the second variant of the jumbo jet in airline fleets (just one 747-100 exists, operated by Caspian Airlines). Again, almost all of them are freighters. Michigan-based 747 cargo operator Kalitta Air has six of the -200 on its books. The original 747 entered service as a passenger aircraft with Pan Am in 1970 and the -200, which had more powerful engines, followed a year later.
The Convair propliner series, which began with the CV-240, was built from 1947 and the CV-580 variant was a conversion from the CV-340. There are 37 CV-580s in service, with Auckland-based Air Freight New Zealand operating five. San Diego-based Convair became a division of General Dynamics in 1953 and the business went on to develop a number of pioneering military designs.
Fokker F28 Fellowship
The 60-seat passenger jet, which entered service at the end of the 1960s, is one of the rarest beasts in our list, with just three still flying out of the roughly 241 aircraft produced. Fly SAX, a Kenyan safari and charter operator, has one of them. The airliner was built by the Dutch manufacturer at Schiphol, with involvement from German aerospace company MBB and Short Brothers of Northern Ireland.
If sightings of the Ilyushin Il-18, a Cold War era Russian large turboprop that first flew in 1957 and had its heyday in the 1960s, are fairly scarce these days – with 11 examples in service – ticking off the one example flown by Air Koryo must rank high on any planespotter’s wishlist. North Korean travel agencies offer trips to enthusiasts to fly on aircraft belonging to the flag-carrier, described by one unkind journalist as the “world’s only one-star airline”.
McDonnell Douglas DC-9
The DC-9 is not as scarce in airline fleets these days as the DC-3 or DC-8, with 11 of the -10 variants and 20 -30s in service. The airliner was produced at Long Beach from 1965 to 1992 and Alaskan freight airline Everts has three of the -30 variant. Smaller than the DC-8, the DC-9 was designed to operate from runways on short- to medium-range routes served previously by propeller-driven airliners.
Milwaukee-based freight airline Air Cargo Carriers operates five of the 12 Short 330 aircraft still in service. With 13 of the sister Short 360 also in its fleet, ACC claims to be the largest operator of the Northern Ireland-built aircraft in the world. The boxy Short 330, with its fuel tanks above the passenger cabin, is one of the most unusual looking commercial aircraft in the world but that did not stop airlines buying 125 of them between 1974 and 1992.
Russian airline Katekavia serves cities in Siberia with a fleet that includes five of the 18 Tu-134s in service around the world (Air Koryo is another operator). The swept-wing, 50-seat, twin-engined airliner was built from 1966 to 1984 and with some 850 examples delivered was one of the most successful Soviet types, operated chiefly by Aeroflot and Eastern European airlines.
There are 32 Yak-40s in service, mainly in Russia and central Asia and Russian carrier Severstal Aircompany has a single example, which it flies from its base in Cherepovets in the country’s north-west. Over 1,000 of the low-winged trijet, with its distinctive T-tail, entered service between 1967 and 1981 with Aeroflot the biggest customer. It was designed to operate from short runways.