Home Airline News Air Chathams Grounds Last Passenger Convair

Air Chathams Grounds Last Passenger Convair

by Matt Falcus

The world’s last airworthy Convair 580 still in passenger configuration has been retired.

Air Chathams, based in the small island group in the Pacific off New Zealand still flew this vintage aircraft regularly with passengers on scheduled and charter routes until recently, but the ageing aircraft has finall been put out to pasture in favour of more modern types like the ATR72 and Saab 340 (they also have a DC-3, but we’ll gloss over that).

As one of the great special enthusiast flights of the world, this is a real blow to fans of vintage propliners.

The airline’s fleet included three Convair 580s, built in 1957, however this passenger-confirgured aircraft – ZK-CIE – will now be permanently grounded and not fly again.

The remaining examples will now only carry freight and will soon likely be retired also.


What Was It Like Onboard the Convair 580?


Passengers commented that flying the Convair 580 was like stepping back in time to air travel in the 1960s.

While the aircraft featured modern instruments and navigation equipment, and the seats were still comfortable, it was the ambiance and sounds that harked back to the distant past.

Here’s a clip taken onboard Air Chathams Convair 580 from various camera angles in the cockpit. Listen to those engines!


Are There Any Other Convairs Flying Passengers?

Nolinor Convair 580

A quick look at our book, Last Chance to Fly (available to Premium Members) reveals that Air Chathams was indeed the last airline flying Convair 580s (and similar variants) in scheduled passenger service.

However, Nolinor in Canada still has an active example which can carry passengers and is mostly used on charter work.

We have, however, discovered a preservation project to bring one of these aircraft back to life in Canada.

Time Air Historical Society has acquired former Nolinor Convair 580 C-FTAP which is presently withdrawn from use at Montreal Airport. It previously flew with Time Air, which makes it of particular interest to this group.

It’s not known whether it will be restored to flight, but at least it will be preserved.



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Guy T June 11, 2021 - 5:30 pm

Convair 580 ZS-KEI (c/n 141) was still operating passenger flights out of Windhoek, Namibia until recently, so that may still be in service ; I might be out of date though

Matt Falcus June 13, 2021 - 1:24 pm

Thanks Guy!

Warren March 28, 2022 - 10:08 pm

It is 29/3/2022 and I am following a Convair 580 flying across South Australia which I believe may still be in passemger configuration.


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