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07 April 2011

How old is the aircraft that you are flying?

The recent emergency landing of a Southwest Airlines 737 due to a fuselage rupture has once again brought the issue of aging aircraft to the public attention. The NTSB investigation into the Southwest incident has pointed to unexpected and unseen metal fatigue on some models of the 737 as a potential safety issue, and the FAA, along with Boeing, have developed procedures to address the problem.

When you fly, you may not know in advance how old your aircraft is, but you can get an idea of how old the airline's fleet is. Using data from a number of sources, has upgraded its page Average Fleet Age for Selected Airlines to include links to detailed aircraft aging information for dozens of large airlines around the world. The data, based on research performed by the site, provides the average age of an airline's fleet, as well as the average age for particular aircraft models within that airline's fleet.

For example, for Southwest Airlines, which flies several models of the 737, the average fleet age is 15 years, with their older 737 models (737-300 and 737-500) averaging 19.2 years and the newer models (737-700) averaging 12.6 years.

Below are some average fleet ages in years for selected US airlines:

airTran - 7.3
Alaska Airlines 8.0
American Airlines - 15.0
American Eagle - 9.7
Continental Airlines - 9.5
Delta Airlines - 14.5
JetBlue Airways - 5.4
Southwest Airlines 14.3
United Airlines - 14.3
US Airways - 12.3

Compare those figures with selected airlines from outside the US:

Aeromexico.htm - 7.0
AirAsia - 3.4
Air China - 7.6
Air Canada - 10.5
Air France - 9.1
British Airways - 11.9
Ethiopian Airlines 9.9
Japan Airlines - 10.8
KLM - 10.7
Lufthansa - 13.2
Qantas - 11.9

For a more complete list, including information for different models within those fleets, please visit


  1. ..mhh better fly with a forein' airline. Newer hardware, better service.

  2. Do not be very sure about upkeep of foreign airlines. Some foreign airlines also do have a very sinister operations.

    A captain.