What Airlines Still Fly Boeing 737 Combis? Canada istopping the list!

From Simple Flying – link to source story

by Linnea Ahlgren | May 25, 2021

While the past year has seen the rise of the ‘preighter’, cargo-passenger combination aircraft have slowly declined. With a history spanning over half a century, how many Boeing 737 Combi airplanes are still active in the skies today?

Air Inuit 737 Combi
Most civilian 737 Combis still in operation are flying to remote locations in the north of Canada. Photo: BriYYZ via Wikimedia Commons

The Boeing 737 was the world’s best-selling aircraft for decades before the Airbus A320 overtook it in total orders in November 2019. It was the first commercial jet ever to surpass the 10,000 milestone in 2012, and as of April 2021, Boeing had received a total of 14,693 orders for the 737 family.

Boeing also offered a few of its versions in a combi variant. The plane maker produced a total of 125 of the 737-200C, 737-300C, 737-400C, and eventually the 737-700C. However, only a handful of operators of the Boeing 737 Combi remain.

Government missions

According to data retrieved from the ch-aviation database, 13 carriers are operating a total of 36 active Boeing 737 Combi aircraft. Nearly half of these, all 737-700Cs, are the military version known as the Boeing C-40 Clipper and operated by the United States Navy.

Another two, both Boeing 737-400Cs approaching 32 years old, are in the care of the United States National Nuclear Security Administration, a federal agency ‘responsible for safeguarding national security through the military application of nuclear science’.

Chrono Aviation 737 Combi
Chrono Aviation operates a 737-200C. Photo: Airline12 via Wikimedia Commons

Canada topping the list

The remaining 19 Boeing 737 Combis are in service with carriers operating in remote locations, the majority of them located in Canada. With its main base at Kujjuaq Airport in Quebec, Air Inuit has three active 737-200Cs in its fleet, all close to or just over 40 years. Air Inuit operates domestic services to Labrador, Nunavik, and Nunavut.

Canadian North operates one 737-200C and two 737-400Cs. It acquired the latter two when merging with First Air in November 2019. The holly Inuit-owned airline also operates scheduled passenger services to communities in the Northwest Territories, Nunavik, and Nunavut, with a slogan reading ‘Fly the Arctic’.

Charter airline Chrono Aviation, based out of Québec City International Airport, also has a 38-year-old 737-200C in its fleet. Two Combi 737-200s are also deployed by Canadian commodities corporation Glencore.

Meanwhile, Montreal-based charter carrier Nolinor is still operating as many as four 737-200 Combi aircraft. Two are just over four decades old. However, one has passed the 45 mark, while another is still just over 36. The youngest of the group is a 737-200QC, which allows for conversion for either 130 passengers or a combination of passengers and cargo.

Canadian North 737 combi
Canadian North operates three 737 combis, two of which it inherited from the merger with First Air. Photo: Gordon Leggett via Wikimedia Commons

In service of the UN

In other parts of the world, Philippino leisure carrier SEAir International owns one active 737-200C, delivered just this January after a 40-year long history with FedEx, Alaska Airlines, and South African carriers Bionic Aviation and Fair Aviation.

Meanwhile, in Africa, Aviatrade Congo still operates a 737-200C over half a century of age. A younger model, a 28-year-old 737-400C, is owned by South African Safair but leased to the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service.

Unstable approach led to 2020 hard landing and rear fuselage strike in Schefferville, Quebec

Dorval, Quebec, 3 March 2021 — In its investigation report (A20Q0013) released today, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) found that the January 2020 hard landing and rear fuselage strike in Schefferville, Quebec, was the result of an unstable approach.

From Air Inuit

On 20 January 2020, a de Havilland DHC-8-314 operated by Air Inuit Ltd. was conducting a flight from Québec/Jean Lesage Airport, Quebec, to Schefferville Airport, Quebec, with three crew members and 42 passengers on board. During the landing, the rear fuselage struck the runway as the wheels touched down. After landing, the aircraft taxied to the terminal to disembark the passengers. There were no injuries; however, the aircraft sustained substantial damage.

The investigation found that the flight crew forgot to perform the descent checklist and realized this at an inopportune time, while the captain (pilot monitoring) was providing a position report. Given ambiguities and contradictions in the company’s stabilized approach guidelines, the captain interpreted that he was allowed to continue the approach below 500 feet above aerodrome elevation, even though the aircraft had not been fully configured for the landing. When the aircraft passed this altitude, the pilots, who were dealing with a heavy workload, didn’t notice and continued the approach, which was unstable. At the time of the landing, the aircraft no longer had enough energy to arrest the descent rate solely by increasing pitch attitude. The pilot’s instinctive reaction to increase the pitch attitude during the flare, combined with the hard landing, resulted in the rear fuselage striking the runway, causing substantial damage to the aircraft’s structure.

The investigation also made findings as to risk related to Air Inuit’s standard operating procedures (SOPs) and training, and to Transport Canada’s (TC) oversight. Transport Canada assessed Air Inuit’s SOPs, but did not identify any specific issues with the operator’s stabilized approach guidelines. If TC does not assess the quality, consistency, accuracy conciseness, clarity, relevance, and content of SOPs, the procedures may be ineffective, increasing risks to flight operations.

Additionally, the captain had not received many of the required training elements during his recurrent training. If required training elements are not included in recurrent training, and if TC’s surveillance plan does not verify the content of crew training, there may be procedural deficiencies or deviations, increasing risks to flight operations.  

Following the occurrence, Air Inuit took a number of safety actions, including the revision of its SOPs to improve guidelines on several subjects, including stabilized approaches, and the revision of its training program to ensure that all training elements are covered within the two-year recurrent training cycle.

See the investigation page for more information.

Hydro-Québec and Air Inuit sign a new 12-year contract

Hydro-Québec Logo (CNW Group/Hydro-Québec)
Air Inuit Logo (CNW Group/Hydro-Québec)

MONTRÉAL, April 15, 2021 /CNW Telbec/ – Hydro-Québec and Air Inuit have entered into a new agreement to ensure the maintenance and operations of Hydro-Québec’s fleet. Valued at approximately $28 million a year, the contract runs until 2032.

Hydro-Québec relies on three aircraft—two Dash 8 Q400 and one Dash 8 300—to transport employees to locations in Saguenay, Abitibi, Côte-Nord and Baie-James.

“This contract is good news for Air Inuit,” said Noah Tayara, chair of the board of directors of Air Inuit. “In the current pandemic, a long-term agreement with a partner like Hydro-Québec provides our organization with some stability and guarantees the continuation of our business relationship with a major customer for at least the next decade. The contract was made possible in large part by the exceptional performance of our employees, whom we would like to thank.”

“On behalf of the Air Inuit employees assigned to Hydro-Québec’s air operation and of the entire Air Inuit team, we thank Hydro-Québec for its confidence and recognition of our long-term relationship and we look forward in pursuing this high standard operation for many years ahead”, stated Christian Busch, Air Inuit’s President and CEO.

“For Hydro-Québec, the good news is twofold,” affirmed Éric Filion, Executive Vice President – Distribution, Procurement and Shared Services at Hydro-Québec. “First, we are strengthening our ties with a quality company. Second, we are gaining the stability of a long-term agreement that ensures the performance and safety of our flight operations, especially considering how vital they are to Hydro-Québec.”

Consolidating jobs

Under the agreement, Air Inuit consolidates 78 cabin crew, pilot and maintenance and operations specialist positions. Hydro-Québec uses Air Inuit’s facilities at YUL Montréal-Trudeau International Airport for its flights to and from its main remote work sites.

About Air Inuit

Founded by the Inuit in 1978 and owned by Makivik Corporation, Air Inuit was created to provide air connections between Nunavik’s 14 coastal villages and southern Québec, to promote trade and to preserve Inuit culture. The company has become a major player in air transportation in Québec and is one of Nunavik’s most significant economic drivers. The company is also committed to the development of this immense territory and the prosperity of its people by providing support to various community organizations, cultural events, educational and sports programs, as well as the implementation of employment access programs for Nunavik Inuit.

About Hydro-Québec

Hydro-Québec generates, transmits and distributes electricity. It is among the world’s largest hydroelectric power producers. Its sole shareholder is the Québec government. Hydro-Québec uses mainly renewable generating options, in particular large hydro.

Air Inuit Announces New President and CEO

KUUJJUAQ, QC, Apr. 6, 2021 /CNW/ – The Board of Directors of Air Inuit ltd. are pleased to announce that Mr. Christian Busch has been appointed as the new President and Chief Executive Officer of Air Inuit, effective April 1, 2021.

Mr. Busch joined Air Inuit in 2002 and most recently acted as the Executive Vice President and Chief operation officer of the airline.  Over the last 19 years, Christian has made many contributions to innovations undertaken by the airline and to its success. As a hands-on Executive with full knowledge of Air Inuit’s core mission and values, he will lead Nunavik’s airline through its next strategic phases and any challenges that await it. Northern aviation is highly specialized and his experience will be a valuable asset to Air Inuit.

“His proven success in building long-term relationships with Nunavimmiut, our stakeholders, customers, and regulators hasn’t gone unnoticed. Over the years he has played a big role in growing and innovating the business, and most importantly his recognition of our dedicated Air Inuit employees make him the best choice to lead Air Inuit,” said Board Chairman Noah Tayara.

“On behalf of Makivik Corporation, its Executives and the Board of Directors, I’m pleased to welcome and support Christian in his new role. In my years as Air Inuit president I worked very closely with Christian, his dedication to Air Inuit as well as his knowledge of the airline industry were very apparent. I have no doubts that our airline will be in good hands, and I look forward to working with Christian in his new role,” stated Makivik President Pita Aatami.

About Makivik

Makivik is the land claims organization mandated to manage the heritage funds of the Inuit of Nunavik provided for under the James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement. Makivik’s role includes the administration and investment of these funds and the promotion of economic growth by providing assistance for the creation of Inuit-operated businesses in Nunavik. Makivik promotes the preservation of Inuit culture and language as well as the health, welfare, relief of poverty, and education of Inuit in the communities.

www.makivik.org

About Air Inuit                                              
Founded by the Inuit in 1978 and owned 100% by Makivik Corporation, Air Inuit was created to provide air connections between Nunavik’s 14 communities and southern Québec, to promote trade and to preserve Inuit culture. The company has become a major player in air transportation in Québec and is one of Nunavik’s most significant economic drivers. The company is also committed to the development of this immense territory and the prosperity of its people by providing support to various community organizations, cultural events, educational and sports programs, as well as the implementation of employment access programs for Inuit people.

www.airinuit.com