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Friday Trivia: Top 10 Oldest Jet Airliner Tail Numbers

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A jet airliner's registration, generally known as its "tail number", typically changes when acquired by another operator. This is done for various legal, operational, and/or marketing reasons.

Some aircraft, however, have the distinction of having the same tail number since delivery from the manufacturer, even after having been flown by multiple operators. An in-depth analysis into Aviation Week Intelligence Network's Fleet database shows the top 10 jet airliners flying today with the oldest continuous tail numbers, excluding government or military aircraft.

REGISTRATION TYPE YEAR DELIVERED ORIGINAL OPERATOR CURRENT OPERATOR
N68049 MD-10-10CF 1974 CONTINENTAL AIRLINES FEDEX
N68053 MD-10-10CF 1975 CONTINENTAL AIRLINES FEDEX
EP-IAG 747-200B 1976 IRAN AIR

IRAN AIR

EP-IAH 747-200B 1977 IRAN AIR IRAN AIR
EP-IAC 747SP 1977 IRAN AIR IRAN AIR
C-GDPA 737-200C 1980 DOME PETROLEUM CANADIAN NORTH
C-GOPW 737-200C 1980 PACIFIC WESTERN AIRLINES CANADIAN NORTH
ZS-SID 737-200(F) 1981 SOUTH AFRICAN AIRWAYS AFRICA CHARTER AIRLINE
C-GSPW 737-200C 1981 PACIFIC WESTERN AIRLINES CANADIAN NORTH
N705AA 727-200(F)(W) 1981 AMERICAN AIRLINES ASIA PACIFIC AIRLINES

So which jet airliner, active or not, holds the all-time record? That honor belongs to HK-727, a 727-100(F) which flew with that same tail number for 49 years. Delivered to Avianca in 1966 and acquired by Aerosucre Colombia in 1992, it was finally retired in early 2015.

Many thanks to Senior Fleet Analyst Nigel Howarth for his help in extracting this data.

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