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Buffalo Airways takes delivery of first jet aircraft, a 737 freighter

By Dayna Fedy-MacDonald | August 8, 2023

Estimated reading time 4 minutes, 52 seconds.

Buffalo Airways officially took delivery of its first jet aircraft, a Boeing 737-300SF, on Aug. 3, 2023. The new aircraft joins the airline’s existing fleet of Second World War-era aircraft, including the Douglas DC-3, C-46 Curtiss Commando, and other turboprops, to meet increased demand for next-day freight delivery to the North.

Buffalo Airways’ new 737 freighter with the large cargo door open. Alex Praglowski Photo

Buffalo first announced that it purchased a 737 in April 2022, but the airline had been working on the project since the summer of 2021. It acquired the 1986 jet from European Aviation Group of Bournemouth, U.K., though the aircraft was formerly operated by Swiftair — an airline based in Madrid, Spain.

General manager Mikey McBryan shared a series of updates on Buffalo’s new 737 via social media throughout the first week of August, noting that the aircraft was set to embark on its ferry flight from Bournemouth (EGHH) to Edmonton, Alberta (CYEG), on Aug. 2.

The 737 — which currently wears the tail number “2-ESKA” — departed EGHH as scheduled and made a fuel stop in Keflavík, Iceland (BIKF), before carrying on to Iqaluit, Nunavut (CYFB), where the aircraft remained overnight. On Aug. 3 at around noon local time, the 737 departed Iqaluit for its final destination of Edmonton, where it landed at 1:45 p.m. local time.

Although Buffalo Airways is headquartered in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, the 737 is to be based in Edmonton, where it will operate Monday through Friday (for overnight freight) from CYEG to CYZF and back to CYEG.

Buffalo Airways’ new 737 freighter at Iqaluit Airport, on its way to Edmonton, Alberta. Joseph Pinguartuk Photo

McBryan told Skies last year that the new jet would allow the airline to triple its nightly payloads when compared to the C-46 cargo aircraft that it currently operates.

Some of the freight comes from contracts with transport and logistics companies like FedEx, UPS, and DHL, which require next-day service. However, 60 to 75 percent of Buffalo’s nightly cargo volume comes from its own courier company, Buffalo Air Express, McBryan said.

During its time in Bournemouth, the aircraft underwent a series of repairs and received new engines and landing gear. Now that 2-ESKA is in Edmonton, it will undergo avionics modifications before receiving its Canadian registration and entering into service. The 737 is to be re-registered as C-FBAE.

Buffalo Airways’ new 737 undergoing avionics upgrades in Edmonton. Mikey McBryan Photo

The avionics upgrades — which include the addition of ADS-B, a second flight management computer, a new satellite tracker and communication system, and a GPS upgrade — are being completed by Logic Air of Quebec, which has sent a team to Edmonton to perform the work. McBryan told Skies in an email that the timeline for the upgrades is roughly three weeks.

Buffalo Airways was initially hoping that its new 737 would be delivered to Canada during the summer of 2022 with entry into service shortly thereafter, but maintenance and regulatory delays pushed that timeline out to late summer 2023.

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