Oldest Airplanes still in operation today

Top 14 oldest airplanes still in service

Airplanes are undoubtedly one of mankind’s greatest Inventions. They have become very common nowadays and almost everyone has flown at least once in an aircraft. But have you ever wondered which are the oldest planes still in operation? Although in general, commercial airplanes are typically retired after 20-25 years, while military aircraft may have a longer lifespan of 30-40 years, some planes have far exceeded this average. Let’s have a look at the Top 14 oldest planes still in service.

14. Oil Spill Response Boeing 727 built in 1983

Oil Spill Response Boeing 727-200
Oil Spill Response Boeing 727-200, By Paul Lucas, CC BY 2.0

This Boeing 727-200, was built in 1983 and was first delivered to Federal Express airline in October of the same year as a cargo plane. Today it operates under the registration G-OSRB and belongs to the British airline Oil Spill Response. The aircraft’s configuration was changed in 2014 from a cargo plane to a tanker in order to be used in the event of an oil spill. The B727 contains 7 tanks inside filled with a dispersant that causes the oil to spread into smaller, more biodegradable parts. In most cases, oil spills happen on the sea, and the aircraft flies at low altitudes to spray the dispersant.

13. Russian Tupolev Tu-154M built in 1983

Anna Zvereva from Tallinn, Estonia, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Similar to Oil Spill Response’s B727, this Tupolev Tu 154M belonging to the Russian Air Force was also built in 1983. It is registered RA-85586 and, according to RadarBox, the plane was last active on 25 Dec 2022 on a domestic flight in Russia.

12. Easy Charter Airbus A300 built in 1982

Easy Charter Airbus A300B4-203
Easy Charter Airbus A300B4-203, Ramon Jordi, PictAero.com

Georgia Easy Charter Airbus A300B4-200F currently operating under the registration 4L-EFC has a history of over 40 years, having been built and delivered in 1982. The first airline to fly this aircraft was Air Jamaica, and since then this A300 has been to 7 different airlines, most recently being purchased in 2020. In July 2000, the aircraft was modified into a cargo plane, as it currently operates for Easy Charter. Despite its advanced age, the A300 4L-EFC is very active, last month alone (in December 2022) completing a total of 18 flights.

11. Aerostan Airbus A300 built in 1981

Airbus A300B4-203
Airbus A300B4-203, similar to that used by Aerostan, Michel Gilliand, GFDL 1.2 , via Wikimedia Commons

This Airbus A300B4-200 registered EX-30002 was built in 1981 and is currently used as a cargo aircraft by Aerostan, an airline in Kyrgyzstan. The airplane was first delivered in May 1981 to Thai Airways International, was modified to a freighter in 2000, and was purchased by Aerostan in September 2020.

10. Pratt&Whitney Boeing 747SP built in 1981

P&W Boeing 747SP
P&W Boeing 747SP, Gilbert Hechema, GFDL 1.2 , via Wikimedia Commons

Boeing 747SP-B5 registered C-GTFF belonging to Pratt&Whitney first flew in January 1981, 42 years ago. In May of that year, the aircraft was delivered to Korean Air, its first airline, and in 2010 it was purchased by Pratt&Whitney. The B747 is currently used by P&W Canada as a testing aircraft for the company’s engines.

9. Air Inuit Boeing 737 built in 1978

Air Inuit Boeing 737-200
Air Inuit Boeing 737-200, Jean-Philippe Richard, CC BY 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

This Air Inuit Boeing 737-200C, registered C-GMAI, was built in 1978 and delivered to Air Gabon in July of the same year. The aircraft is a freighter and was delivered to the Canadian airline Air Inuit in November 2010. Although it has many years of service, the aircraft has only been to 3 different airlines and despite its 45 years, it has flown over 50 times in a single month recently (December 2022).

8. NASA Boeing 747SP built in 1976

NASA Boeing 747 N747NA
NASA Boeing 747 N747NA, Noel Jones, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

NASA Boeing 747SP registered N747NA, was built in 1976 and delivered in May 1977 to Pan Am. In October 1997 this aircraft was purchased by NASA and modified into a Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy aircraft. It was last seen active on 13 December 2022.

7. ConViasa Boeing 737 built in 1975

Conviasa Boeing 737-200
ConViasa Boeing 737-200, Hernan Florida, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Conviasa Boeing 737-200 registered YV3434 was built in 1975, and a year later in 1976, it was delivered to the Venezuelan Air Force. In 2019 the plane was acquired by Conviasa Airlines, one of the largest airlines in Venezuela, and in January 2023 the aircraft celebrated 47 years since its first flight.

6. Nolinor Aviation Boeing 737-200 built in 1974

Nolinor Aviation Boeing 737-200
Nolinor Aviation Boeing 737-200, Anna Zvereva, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

This Boeing 737-200C registered C-GNLK belonging to Nolinor Aviation was built in 1974 and is now 49 years old. In May 1974 it was delivered to the first of the many airlines it would operate for, Transavia. Over its long history, this B737 has been to 17 different airlines. In April 2014 the aircraft was purchased by Nolinor Aviation, an airline operating in Canada, under which it operates to this day. Despite its advanced age, the aircraft is very active, which is demonstrated by the fact that in December 2022 it completed on average more than two flights per day.

5. Skybus Jet Cargo Douglas DC-8 built in 1970

Skybus Jet Cargo McDonnell Douglas DC-8-60/70
Skybus Jet Cargo McDonnell Douglas DC-8-60/70, Photo by Gabriela López Chong

McDonnell Douglas DC-8-60/70 Skybus Jet Cargo registered “OB-2158-P” was built in 1970 turning 53 years old this year. In April of that year, the aircraft entered service with Trans International Airlines, after which in the decades that followed it was acquired by multiple airlines, the latest being Skybus Jet Cargo airline. The Peruvian airline acquired the aircraft in 2013 from DHL, and since then it has seen various registrations, the latest of which, “OB-2158-P”, dates from March 2021.

4. AirLift International  Douglas DC-8 built in 1969

Airlift International Douglas DC-8-63F
Airlift International Douglas DC-8-63F, Peter Bakema GFDL 1.2, via Wikimedia Commons

This Mcdonnell Douglas DC-8-60/70 registered 9G-RAC belongs to Airlift International and was built in 1969. In November of the same year the aircraft was delivered to its first airline, the American airline Eastern Airlines. In 2008 the Ghanaian airline Airlift International purchased the aircraft, this being the last of the 11 airlines for which this DC-8 operated.

3. Aeronaves TSM McDonnell Douglas DC-9 built in 1969

MCDonnell Douglas DC-9-33F
MCDonnell Douglas DC-9-33F, similar to the aircraft used by Aeronavei TSM, Dmitry Avdeev, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30 aircraft registered XA-UPS belongs to the Mexican airline Aeronaves TSM and was built in 1969. In January 1970 the aircraft was delivered to KLM airlines, the first of 6 airlines for which it would operate. In 2011, Aeronaves TSM acquired the aircraft and they still operate it today in cargo configuration.

2. USA Jet Airlines McDonnell Douglas DC-9 built in 1967

USA Jet Airlines McDonnell Douglas DC-9-15F
USA Jet Airlines McDonnell Douglas DC-9-15F, JetPix GFDL 1.2, via Wikimedia Commons

The second oldest airplane still operating today is this 56-year-old McDonnell Douglas DC-9-10. The aircraft registered N192US was built in 1967 and today belongs to USA Jet Airlines, a small cargo airline operating in the United States. The first delivery of this aircraft was in December 1967 to Continental Airlines, and since then it has been to 8 different airlines, most recently being purchased by USA Jet Airlines in November 1997.

1. Ameristar Jet Charter McDonnell Douglas DC-9 built in 1967

Ameristar Douglas DC-9-15F
Ameristar Douglas DC-9-15F, image source

The oldest airplane still operating today is a McDonnell Douglas DC-9-10, registered N783TW which was built in 1967. It was first delivered in April 1967 to Continental Airlines, just a few months before the DC-9 ranked number 2 on this list. Today, the 56-year-old aircraft is owned by the American airline Ameristar, for which it has been operating since 2002 for cargo transport.

Very important to mention is that there are several planes older than the above still operating today but these are in the military aviation. Thus, it would have been much harder to make an exact top if I had included these planes as for many military planes still operating there is not enough public information.

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