What happens when aircraft retire?
One side effect of the pandemic is that there are fewer planes in the world. Airlines are retiring them because there are fewer passengers.
Two-thirds of the world’s airliners stopped working in April because of the pandemic, according to aviation data source Cirium. While this is bad for the airline business it is quite good for the environment. If you live in a big city you’ve probably enjoyed the peace and quiet in the last months with no jets flying above.
The jumbo jet is the biggest victim of the change. British Airways, the world’s largest operator has retired its entire fleet of 747s. But does retirement mean the end of the runway for airliners? They may have stopped using the jumbo to carry passengers around the world but what happens next tot he planes?
The global market for recycled plane parts will be worth a lot of money by 2022. Some of the retired planes will be converted to carrying goods across the world instead. Other large planes, like the 747’s rival, the Airbus A380 superjumbo, has also ceased production.
So what happens to planes when they retire? Some will live on flying for other airlines. Others are used as freighters.
When an aircraft’s time is up they can still be useful. A plane’s many systems and parts can be used for spares because they will have been replaced many times in its lifetime. Some aeroplanes end up as museum exhibits. Others go into storage in places like California’s Mojave Desert, where the conditions are warm and dry.
Flying is a fantastic experience for those who are lucky enough to try and hopefully it will continue to be so. We hope that it will be cleaner for the environment in the future now that airlines have to work out the best way to survive in a world where there are invisible dangers like Covid-19.
If you haven’t been on a plane yet, or really like them, here’s a paper plane you can try to make at home