SINGAPORE—The wave of new aircraft deliveries slated for Asia may be jump-starting another growth area further down the supply chain: recycling operations that can handle the massive job of repurposing retired aircraft.
Air Salvage International (ASI) CEO Mark Gregory told Aviation Week that his company—one of the largest in Europe—is looking at possible sites in Southeast Asia to set up a facility, and has talked with officials in Senai, Malaysia.
“They [Senai] contacted us over the dismantling of several aircraft that are grounded at their facility, and we went on to talk about the possibility of building a further presence there,” Gregory said.
Boeing’s latest current-market outlook projects that the Asia-Pacific region, excluding China, will absorb 13,400 deliveries over the next 20 years. About 3,200 of these will replace existing aircraft that either need to find new homes or, in many cases, be retired and scrapped.
Existing Asian recyclers include SPS Global in Bangkok, but Southeast Asia currently has no significant recycling presence.
Senai is the first potential site explored by ASI, and Gregory said the company will consider other airfields that meet the company’s criteria.
“One major issue is that we need to have partners in the area of any potential site for the recycling and scrapping of components and airframe,” Gregory said. He added that while Singapore had plenty of MRO facilities that could help with parts recycling, disposing of a stripped 737 airframe poses bigger problems.
“Getting rid of engines is no problem—we have already spoken to potential [local] buyers,” he said. “But the larger sections could be a problem unless there is already a viable scrap metal industry in the area.”
ASI said the preferred option was to partner with a local company that could bring specific contacts or skill sets. Alternatively, the company could set up a satellite operation—or even just act as a consultancy to help a local outfit get going, Gregory said.
Gregory noted that ASI has worked with another joint venture in the Asia-Pacific region, GA Innovation China (GAIC). Set up in 2013, GAIC is the first part-out venture established to serve the Chinese market.