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A Breakdown of the Aircraft Teardown Process

When an aircraft reaches the end-of-life stage, a common next course of action is teardown. What exactly is an aircraft teardown? Briefly put, a teardown is the disassembly and removal of aircraft parts for disposal or recycling.

Years ago, teardowns were simply seen as a way to end an aircraft’s operating life. However, recent times have shown a trend in teardowns becoming an essential, value-driven process. Aircraft owners and operators have begun to identify that teardowns are not only a means to an end, but also allow them to harvest a range of assets to continue reaping the returns of their investment.

As noted by the AJW Group, around 600 commercial passenger and freighter aircraft are withdrawn from service each year. While some make their way into long-term storage, most are parted-out through the teardown process.

In the following segments detailing the teardown process, we take a look at Dviation’s aircraft teardown process (yes, we specialise in aircraft teardowns – among a wide range of aviation solutions!).

Dviation’s crew who recently carried out a aircraft teardown project in Singapore.

The Final Flight

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The aircraft that is scheduled for teardown will fly to its final destination, where it will undergo the teardown process. Dviation must request for a landing slot (and parking spot) from the airport authority prior to the teardown. Before any disassembly begins, all engine inlets, exhausts, ports and the Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) must be covered. Any logos and identifiable markings on the livery are to be painted over.

 

And the Disassembly Begins…

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The removal of parts is in accordance with the standard practices, which meets the needs of the aircraft owner or operator. This includes cleaning and packaging the parts along with a signed removal parts tag for each part. Each part must be accounted for in an inventory list. Other stages included in the general workscope for disassembly include the removal of the engines and APU, disassembly and disposal of the hull, and the disposal of all residual hydraulic fluids, fuel and hazardous materials.

 

… But That’s Not All!

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Apart from the general disassembly scope mentioned above, there are many more components left to be disassembled. In fact, a typical airliner can be dismantled into 1,500 to 2,000 parts!

The parts that are easily accessible are the first to be removed – such as the avionics (flight deck and avionics bay) and safety equipment (slides, rafts, lights).

Next are the control surfaces. The flaps are removed, which then enable the removal of the hydraulic systems. The removal of these easily accessible components, such as the air conditioning system and brake system, allows progress to be made to remove smaller components within.

Some other items to consider are the flight data recorder, electrical devices, probes and tubes, antennas, and transmitters. Then there are also components in the cockpit, such as gauges and control panels, control yokes, crew seats and cockpit door. And the list goes on!

 

What Next?

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When all line-replaceable units (LRUs) are removed, the landing gears and wheels are one of the last few components to be removed. Eventually, all removed parts are harvested from the airframe.

Depending on the aircraft size and type, the teardown process can take between 3 to 5 weeks to complete. However, what many people aren’t aware about is that there is more than just the physical teardown process. The service provider must identify that the aircraft’s component assets meet the needs of the aftermarket component marketplace. And in doing so, package the parts in accordance with the client’s requirements. Removed parts must be re-certified before being released into the marketplace. And the tedious yet value-creating process of the teardown is now complete.

 

To find out more about what happens when an aircraft approaches the end of its life, check out ‘End-of-Life: Do Aircraft Ever Really “Die”?

For more information on aircraft teardown services offered by Dviation, visit https://www.dviation.com.

 

 

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