Boeing has produced over 10,000 aircraft from its popular 737 series, with several different sub-families. One of these was the 737 Classic, which the US planemaker built between 1981 and 2000. This comprises the 737-300, -400, and -500 variants. As time goes on, these aircraft are becoming rather rare. Here’s a look at the remaining active US-based 737-400s.
The 737-400 in a nutshell
Let’s start by establishing the 737-400’s place in the Classic family as a whole. It was the second of the series’ three variants to enter service, doing so in September 1988 with Piedmont Airlines. By this point, the 737-300 had already been active for almost four years, and it would be almost 18 months before Southwest received the first 737-500.
The 737-400 turned out to be the largest Classic series aircraft, with Boeing design it to fit between the 737-300 and larger 757-200 in terms of capacity. Clocking in at 36.4 meters long, it could typically seat 147 passengers across two classes, or 168 in a high-density all-economy setup. It had the Classic series’ shortest range, measuring 2,060 NM (3,820 km).
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According to data from ch-aviation.com, there are 74 examples of the Boeing 737-400 (across 31 operators) that are still active worldwide today. Of these, 20 are registered in the US, with charter carrier iAero Airways being the dominant operator. Indeed, this Miami-based airline flies 17 of the aging twinjets, and also has another two inactive examples.
The carrier dates back to 1997, when it began life as Swift Air. When it switched to iAero Airways in 2019, the airline retained its Swift Air LLC corporate identity. This meant it didn’t need to have its operating certificates and licenses re-issued. The carrier’s 737-400s are 29.8 years old on average, with the oldest (N418US) dating back 32.71 years to February 1989.
Data from RadarBox.com shows that iAero Airways deploys the 737-400 to a diverse range of destinations. Of course, this is to be expected from the random world of charter flights. At the time of writing, it had recently flown the type to countries such as Guatemala (from McAllen, Texas) and the Dominican Republic (from Miami), as well as domestically.
The remaining three active 737-400s in the US actually belong to a division of the country’s government. Specifically, they fly for the Justice Prisoner and Alien Transportation System, known in short as JPATS. This operator is responsible for transporting those in custody across the country, between institutions like prisons and courthouses.
JPATS’ Boeing 737-400s are slightly younger than those of iAero Airways, clocking in at 29.2 years old on average. Interestingly, while two (N639CS and N640US) have a one-class configuration, ch-aviation’s data suggests that N279AD has a 12-seat business class cabin ahead of its 138 economy seats. This aircraft joined JPATS in 2015 from Avelo Airlines. The other two started at Turkish Airlines before joining JPATS from Corendon in 2013.
Did you know that the Boeing 737-400 was so rare in the US? have you ever flown on the type? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.