Canadian North has officially retired its last Boeing 737-200 passenger and cargo jet. It came after its last run from Cambridge Bay to Yellowknife on May 6.
Dawn MacFarlane, one of the captains of the final flight, said that since the company decided to replace the 737-200 with the ATR-72 — she’s only been certified to fly the 737-200 and 737-300 — it means that she will have fewer chances to go back to communities not as a captain, but as a passenger
That triggered a twinge of sadness.
“The plane flew to communities where I have family and family connections,” she said.
The 737-200 was the only jet in the Canadian North fleet that could land on a gravel runway courtesy of the gravel kit the plane employed. But because the 200 series has been in use since 1968, maintaning the ageing aircraft and its modifications had become increasingly difficult and costly.
The ATR-72 requires less maintenance for upkeep.
Because of the ATR-72’s top-wing design and because it’s propeller-driven, it has become more capable of landing on gravel compared to any other jet engine aircraft such as the 737.
But there is a downside of it: the capacity.
“The capacity is going to be decreased,” MacFarlane said. “The payload we could carry on the 737-200 is unmatched and I don’t think it ever will be matched again.”
She also shared some memories during her time flying the aircraft.
“It’ll always have a sense of nostalgia for any pilot who’s flown it,” she said. “Because it’s part of Northern operations, pilots of my generation have pretty much flown bush planes in the North. The 737-200 for a lot of us was the first jet, and it’s certainly a unique style of jet flying you will never see again. It gave me a good sense of satisfaction at the end of the day.”
MacFarlane will be retrained on the 737-700, the newer model in Canadian North’s fleet. There are plenty more hi-tech items built into it with all the flight instruments fitting into a couple of big screens.
But she said she‘ll always love flying the 737-200.
“It’s an older aircraft as far as its systems,” MacFarlane said. “It’s much more hands-on flying compared to what they make today.”
People may still see some of the 737-200 models flying in the air, but MacFarlane said that since the airframe on each of them are timing out due to replacement parts not being available, they will slowly become the thing of the past.