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Buffalo Airways enters jet era as 737 takes off

A Buffalo Airways Boeing 737 is seen in a still from a video posted to YouTube by Mikey McBryan.
A Buffalo Airways Boeing 737 is seen in a still from a video posted to YouTube by Mikey McBryan.

A Buffalo Airways Boeing 737, the first jet aircraft in the NWT airline’s 50-year history, has come through a test flight.

Hay River-based Buffalo acquired the 737-300SF last year, saying the purchase was necessary because existing freight connections into the NWT cannot keep up with next-day demand.

Freight carried by Buffalo mostly arrives in the Northwest Territories by truck. Cargo is then loaded onto the airline’s DC-3 and C-46 aircraft, some of them approaching 80 years old, for onward travel to the territory’s smaller communities.

In 2022, Buffalo said its 737 would replace much of the airline’s reliance on trucks to get freight into its network. The likes of DC-3s will still be used to cover the final journeys into smaller NWT communities, not least because the 737 is not equipped to handle gravel airstrips.

The aircraft has been undergoing refurbishment work and checks in Bournemouth, England since last year’s purchase.



“It’s been a long road,” Buffalo’s Mikey McBryan said in a YouTube video celebrating last week’s 80-minute test flight over Bournemouth, adding that his father, Joe, had been flying a World War Two-era DC-3 in Canada at the same time as the 737 took flight over the UK.

“We join a very small group of companies that can say they’ve flown DC-3s and 737s,” McBryan added.

Even fewer airlines can say they have commercially operated both at the same time. Most airlines, Air North being an example, were phasing out their use of DC-3s before they acquired Boeing 737s. As far back as the 1970s, when the 737 was a relatively new jet, the DC-3 was being retired from many fleets.

Buffalo’s 737 will now be transferred to Edmonton. A welcome event for the aircraft is being planned.

“A lot of stuff is going to happen, and it’s going to happen quick,” McBryan said.