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Where Are Boeing 737-200s Flying in 2023?
The Boeing 737 has played a central role in the development of the global aviation industry for decades. Since the first aircraft entered service in 1968, the twin-engine narrowbody jet has been the backbone of air travel around the world. For many years, it was the highest-selling commercial aircraft of all time – until it was surpassed by the Airbus A320 family in 2019 – and remains the record-holder for the highest number of deliveries.
The first generation of Boeing 737s – also known as the 737 Original – consists of the Boeing 737-100 and 737-200. While only a small number of Boeing 737-100s were delivered, over 1,000 of the -200 variant were put into service. Despite the subsequent introduction of the 737 Classic, 737 Next Generation and 737 MAX, there are still a few dozen Boeing 737-200s in active service around the world in 2023.
The Boeing 737 Original: Start of an Era
The introduction of the Boeing 737-100 in February of 1965 signalled the launch of an aircraft family that would bring The Boeing Company massive commercial success for decades. The Boeing 737-100 entered service with Lufthansa in 1968 but only saw 30 orders and deliveries. However, the higher-capacity Boeing 737-200 was the version of the aircraft that brought the 737 to the world.
Like the Boeing 737-100, the 737-200 also launched in 1965 and entered service in 1968. What it set it apart from the -100 was its longer fuselage. While the initial 135 Boeing 737-200s were essentially 737-100s with extended fuselages, subsequent aircraft were produced to a new standard known as the 737-200 Advanced. These aircraft had improvements including automatic braking, more powerful engines and higher fuel capacity. Boeing also offered a military variant, as well as two flexible cargo operations. The Boeing 737-200C (Combi) allowed for a mixed passenger and cargo configuration and the Boeing 737-200QC (Quick Change) allowed operators to convert the entire aircraft between passenger and cargo use.
The next generation of Boeing 737s – the 737 Classic – entered service in 1984 with the delivery of the first Boeing 737-300. The final Boeing 737-200 was delivered a few years later in 1988. With the introduction of subsequent generations of Boeing 737s in the years since, the 737 Originals started to be retired. In the United States, the last airline operating the Boeing 737-200 on scheduled passenger flights was Aloha Airlines, which retired the aircraft in 2008. Alaska Airlines retired their Boeing 737-200 Combi aircraft the following year.
The Boeing 737-200 Today
Although the newest Boeing 737-200 ever produced is 35 years old, the aircraft type continues to populate the skies today. In 2023, around 30 operators around the world still have a combined total of approximately 50 Boeing 737-200s in service. The aircraft is immediately distinguishable from newer generations of the Boeing 737 due to its long narrow engines.
The three airlines with the greatest number of Boeing 737-200s are all located in Canada. The aircraft has been popular among Canadian carriers operating in the northern parts of the country as it can be fitted with a gravel kit for operations at remote unpaved runways. The gravel kit prevents foreign object debris from damaging the aircraft by adding a gravel deflector on the nose wheel and vortex dissipators in front of the engines.
According to data from Planespotters.net, Nolinor Aviation has seven active Boeing 737-200s with an additional two parked aircraft. Nolinor is a Montreal-based charter operator that offers passenger and cargo charters throughout North America. Air Inuit is also based in Montreal and flies scheduled and charter passenger and cargo flights throughout Quebec and the northern Canadian territory of Nunavut. The airline operates four 737-200 Combi jets. Chrono Aviation is another Canadian charter airline and is the newest 737-200 operator, having received its three used airframes in 2018 and 2019. Canadian North retired their last Boeing 737-200 earlier this year.
Various other airlines around the world also operate small numbers of the 737-200. For example, Venezuelan carrier Avior Airlines has four of the type in service and Hawaii-based cargo and charter operator Transair has four 737-200Cs. Several militaries still operate the aircraft as well, including the Indian Air Force, the Peruvian Air Force and the Indonesian Air Force. A single highly-modified T-43 aircraft – the US military variant of the Boeing 737-200 – remains in service with the United States Air Force Materiel Command.
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