Classic Aircraft Still in Commercial Passenger Service
There are many aviation fans out there that would love to fly on a classic airliner, but most don’t realize that it is still a possibility. The truth is that many historic commercial aircraft are still in passenger service today and grabbing a ticket on one of these old birds is not as hard as some might think. However, with technology constantly improving and becoming more affordable, you better fly on these while you have the chance, as they are sure to be phased out before too long. The a300, the first aircraft produced by Airbus Industrie of France, entered service in 1974 with Air France. The aircraft was the first twin-engine widebody airliner ever created. Today, Air Transat of Canada flies the a300, as well as the shortened version, the a310, to destinations in Europe, the Caribbean, Mexico, and South America. You can’t wait too long if you want to fly on one of these heavy classics though, as they are going to be phased out of Air Transat’s fleet between 2013 and 2016. A few other carriers operate the a300 and a310 around the world but they are very few and far between. The Boeing 747 is not a rare aircraft to see at airports around the world, as there are literally thousands in service. However, the 747 Classics are a little more rare, but not impossible to find in commercial operation. The 747 “Classic” Family, which includes the 747-100, 747-200, 747-300, and 747SP, are the aircraft made famous by airlines like TWA, Pan-Am, and Braniff. Saudi Arabian Airlines still operates about 5 of the type, including a 747SP, on regularly scheduled passenger routes. A few other operators around the world operate a couple, mostly 747-200’s. These are getting very hard to find in passenger service, as most have been converted to Cargo Freighters. Air North, of the Yukon in Canada, operates Hawker-Siddeley HS-748 on various scheduled and chartered passenger routes throughout North America. The HS-748, a small twin turboprop, has been in service since 1960. Know of any others out there? I know the DC-3 is still being used for passenger operations out there somewhere.Although it is only 22 years old, some people still consider the McDonnell Douglas MD-11 a Classic, as it is based off the DC-10 which was was introduced into service in 1971. The MD-11 is one of the most iconic aircraft of all time, with its 3 engines and massive size. In addition to the many cargo carriers that still operate the type, the MD-11 is still in use with a few commercial carriers. The main operator is KLM, which operates a few out of it’s Amsterdam hub to long haul destinations around the world. Saudi Arabian Airlines, Martinair, and few others also operate the MD-11 on commercial passenger routes.