Services Air 727 at Goma

Services Air 727 - Guido Potters

This pretty 727-200F has just arrived at Goma International Airport. Captured on the tarmac in late September by contributor Guido Potters, it is Services Air Cargo’s first 722F. Services Air had, like many Congolese operators, been using ex-Soviet Antonovs for many years, but in the last 18 months has attempted to switch over to western aircraft beginning with this ex-FedEx 727. The carrier is rumored want more 727s but appears to only have this one, along with an Antonov An-26, in its small fleet. Services Air currently uses the flagship 727 between Kinshasa and Goma, and other ad-hoc destinations.

Other carriers fly 727s to GOM include Compagnie Africaine d’Aviation and Hewa Bora Airways, and according to Mr. Potters, the Antonov AN-12 is beginning to filter out of civil cargo operation.

Goma is located far to the east in the Democratic Republic of Congo and just across Lake Kivu from Rwanda. Like war-torn city itself, Goma International has faced significant challenges in the last sixteen years –among them two civil wars (and continuing political unrest) and having nearly one-third of its runway covered in lava after a 2002 volcanic eruption. The airport has never been completely repaired but remains in use.

Goma is a major center for air-shipping Cassiterite, a tin source that is also valuable as a gemstone and is mined locally in the Nord-Kivu province.

9Q-CSS (msn: 22924) isn’t just one of Congo’s newest freighters. It is also a significant aircraft, being the very first 727-200F new-build freighter, delivered to Federal Express on April 28, 1983. Scores of former pax and QC 727s have been converted to freighters for service around the world, but only fifteen were actually built as dedicated freighters by Boeing, all in 1983-84 as production of the 727 wound down before finally coming to a close in the late summer of 1984. All were built for FedEx.

The last passenger 727 was delivered to US Air just a few weeks before 22924 was delivered to FedEx (as N201FE). Services Air bought the plane in January of 2009.

Photographer: Guido Potters. This photo may not be used without the express permission of Guido Potters. To see more of Mr. Potters’ fascinating and revealing images of Congolese and Kenyan aviation, click here. You’ll be happy you did.

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