14 | Flight International | 26 June-2 July 2018 flightglobal.com
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Ability to operate from gravel runways is key consideration for carrier
s the worldwide fleet of Boe-
ing 737-200s continues to
dwindle, one Canadian operator
still sees a bright future in the
Canada’s Nolinor Aviation,
which operates one of the world’s
largest 737-200 fleets, is investing
C$10 million ($7.6 million) to
equip 10 of the 40-year-old air-
craft with modern avionics and
In doing so, Nolinor seems
likely to ensure that at least some
737-200s – a type Boeing first de-
livered in 1967 – remain flying
The aircraft’s current analogue
dials and gauges will be replaced
by hardware and systems from
suppliers Honeywell and Univer-
sal Avionics – a technological re-
fresh enabling Nolinor’s 737-200s
to fly for another 25 years, the
company’s maintenance produc-
tion manager Pierre Dore tells
“We are basically ripping the
guts out and putting in brand-
new, off-the-shelf stuff,” he says.
Nolinor chose cockpit up-
grades over aircraft replacement
for a simple reason: 737-200s are
approved to operate from gravel
runways, Dore says.
“That’s why we are still using
the old -200s,” he says. “Later-gen-
eration aircraft are not approved
for gravel runway operations.”
Based in Mirabel, near Montreal
MODERNISATION JON HEMMERDINGER BOSTON
Upgrades keep elderly 737-200s flying
Despite fleet’s age, Canadian airline Nolinor is modernising cockpits and systems to allow twinjets to stay in service
in Quebec, Nolinor operates pas-
senger and cargo charters, includ-
ing flights to Canada’s far northern
regions for mining companies.
Its fleet includes seven 737-
200s, one -300, four Convair 580
twin-turboprops and a solitary
Bombardier Learjet 31A, accord-
ing to Flight Fleets Analyzer.
Boeing produced about 1,
Pratt & Whitney JT8D-powered
737-200s until the final delivery
in 1988. Over the next two dec-
ades the fleet progressively
shrank: to about 900 in-service
aircraft in 1998, and 354 in 2008,
Fleets Analyzer shows.
Today, just 77 of the variant re-
main active, operated by a hodge-
podge of 44 carriers in Africa, the
Asia-Pacific, Latin America, the
Middle East and North America.
Nolinor operates more 737-
200s than any other airline – its
seven examples accounting for
9% of the total fleet.
Though they are between 34
and 44 years old, nearly all its
737-200s have logged fewer than
50,000 cycles, meaning they can
operate at least 20,000 additional
cycles prior to reaching life lim-
its, says Dore.
Nolinor is to upgrade the dis-
plays and systems in the cockpits
of its seven aircraft, plus those of
another three that have not yet
joined the fleet. Mid-Canada Mod
Center in Mississauga, Ontario is
performing the work.
One aircraft (C-GTUK) has al-
ready received the upgrade, and a
second example will be inducted
into the process in August.
The first aircraft has been oper-
ating without any problems since
31 May: “The pilots are loving
it,” Dore says.
The aircraft are being fitted
with four Universal Avionics EFI-
890R liquid crystal displays,
linked to a pair of Honeywell La-
seref V inertial navigation sys-
tems and two Universal Avionics
UNS-1Lw flight management sys-
tems, says Nolinor.
Though other operators have
updated 737-200s with electronic
flight instrument systems, No-
linor’s aircraft are the first to re-
ceive Universal Avionics EFI-
890R displays, Dore says.
The aircraft will also have au-
tomatic dependent surveillance-
broadcast – out systems; a re-
quirement for operating in US
airspace from 2020.
In addition, the upgrades will
give the 737-200s improved re-
quired navigation performance
capability, enabling pilots to fly
more direct routes, Dore says.
The old avionics, some made
by long-defunct systems maker
Sperry – bits of which live on in
Honeywell – are prone to mainte-
nance problems, Dore says; re-
pairs have been difficult and spare
parts hard to locate.
He expects the new equipment
to improve dispatch reliability
and provide pilots with better
“Instead of troubleshooting
steam gauges with hundreds of
wires, we [can] hook laptops and
chat with the aircraft and see
what’s wrong,” he says. ■
S regulators are ordering op-
erators of winglet-equipped
Boeing 767-300s to conduct
checks on the wing structure fol-
lowing occurrences of fatigue
Aviation Partners Boeing for-
mally launched its winglet for the
767-300ER in 2007 and, two
years later, American Airlines
FAA issues fatigue warning over 767’s winglets
put the modification into service.
The winglets have since been
adopted by several carriers, in-
cluding US operators Delta Air
Lines, United Airlines and UPS.
In an airworthiness directive,
the US Federal Aviation Adminis-
tration states that operators need
to conduct high-frequency eddy-
current inspections for cracking of
the lower outboard wing skin on
the modified aircraft.
It also orders follow-up actions
including repeat inspections,
modification of internal stringers,
and other measures. The FAA
says the fatigue cracking in the
wing skin could potentially re-
sult in separation of the winglet
and reduced controllability.
It says the directive affects
some 140 US-registered aircraft.
Certain aircraft, identified in a
service bulletin issued by Aviation
Partners Boeing last year, are unaf-
fected owing to a change incorpo-
rated into winglet retrofit kits.
European operators of winglet-
equipped 767s include Austrian
Airlines, Condor and Icelandair. ■