How Aircraft are Recycled?

When an aircraft is initially finalized after the lengthy design and manufacturing stage, most will exhibit long service lives that range from 20 to 30 years. Once that time frame is eventually met and the aircraft is no longer considered airworthy or suitable for flight, they will often be transferred to various storage locations where they are considered for recall to service or for demolition. Due to the high price of aircraft parts and major initiatives to go green, many out-of-commission aircraft have begun to be recycled. When operators, owners, and manufacturers initiate recycling, they seek to reclaim the most serviceable and scarce materials that they can find for responsibility and savings. In this blog, we will discuss the process of aircraft recycling, allowing you to better familiarize yourself with such processes and their goals.

After various dismantling and recycling initiatives spearheaded by various companies over the years, the Aircraft Fleet Recycling Association (AFRA) was established in 2005. As an international nonprofit association, AFRA seeks to establish best practices, an industry code of conduct, sustainable developments for disassembly, and regulations to promote environmental recycling. As of the present, AFRA encompasses 40 members that are from 10 different countries, membership including OEMs, dissemblers, distributors, insurers, and more. As of the present, AFRA has overseen the disassembly of more than 9,000 commercial and military aircraft.

Aircraft Demolition is another entity that rose up in popularity due to a lack of recycling efforts, and founder Tim Aemanovic brought their maintenance experience and practicality to the table. While many recycling companies are scrappers that lack aviation technical expertise, Aircraft Demolition ensures facility audits, training programs, AFRA compliance, documentation, and other practices that allow them to excel. During the recycling process, the aircraft has all of its serviceable parts removed, those of which include wiring, hazardous materials, and fluids. Next, the fuselage is crushed before being shredded and recycled in a quick turnaround time. Due to their speed, they can demolish a B737 size aircraft in as little as a handful of hours.

In general, there are many parts of an aircraft that may be recycled for continued use, common examples including windshields, landing gear, tires, aircraft seats, textiles and carpet, electronic devices, engines, and other various components. While the aging of aircraft was often determined by calendar years or operating hours, more sophisticated analysis has been established for the means of finding the relative value of an aircraft. Depreciation is a major factor, and average retirement ages are often dropping as newer, Next Gen aircraft continue to permeate the market. While the average aircraft may last upwards of 25 years of continued service, many fleets now operate aircraft for around 5 years.

As entities around the globe further realize the environmental impact that the space and aviation industry have, recycling initiatives have continued to increase for the means of reducing carbon footprints. With organizations like AFRA and companies such as Aircraft Demolition, waste is actively being reduced as operators turn to recycling reusable components and valuable items. Throughout the next few decades, we will most surely see an increase in these operations as newer processes are established and improved upon.

Whether you are in need of various landing gear components, tires, aircraft seats, or other products for your operations, the experts at Aerospace Buying can provide you with unmatched pricing on over 2 billion items that we have in stock. As an AS9120B, ISO 9001:2015, and FAA AC 00-56B certified and accredited enterprise, we are unmatched in our quality and services. Whether you have any questions regarding our services or are ready to initiate the purchasing process, give our team members a call or email at your earliest convenience and they would be more than happy to assist you however needed.

  1. Posted on September 28, 2021
  2. aerospace

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