End-of-life Service Enters New Phase

Aircraft recycling industry moving toward accreditation, standardized practices and better quality control.

In the past decade, aviation innovators have forged credibility and uniform standards for the teardown industry. “We’re trying to get the industry to demand quality,” says Derk-Jan van Heerden, president of the Aircraft Fleet Recycling Association (AFRA), and “we’re very energetic about the fact more and more companies choose [accreditation]. We also see new startups that, from scratch, dive into the AFRA accreditation before they even touch an airplane. Those are all good signs.” In this MRO Links, we’ll point you toward some companies for your end-of-life aircraft needs. For insights into projections for the year, trend analysis like the market’s response to lower fuel prices and unique projects, go to

1. Setting the Standards

Company: Aircraft Fleet Recycling Association (AFRA)

Specifications: Focused on leading the industry in sustainable end-of-life management, AFRA has 32 accredited companies and more than 70 corporate members. It offers two accreditations: disassembly and recycling. Originally founded in 2006, the association also provides the Best Management Practices (BMP) Guide and updates the recommendations as needed. The most recent version, 3.2, includes a clarification to the definition of “recycling.” This year, AFRA is focusing on ways to share ideas and opinions through increased committee activities, and it will roll out a new website displaying more content and resources such as an interactive member listing and members section. All parts and disassembly companies in this feature are AFRA-accredited

Link #1375

2. Working Up

Company: Aircraft End-of-Life Solutions (AELS)

Specifications: AELS services include disassembly and dismantling, component management and materials recycling. Recognizing it is not necessarily the biggest “player” in the market, AELS focuses on purchasing narrowbody airplanes, and in 2016 AELS is on track to hit eight to 10 projects. In the future, AELS would like to tear down or part-out 12 aircraft annually by 2020. Current projects include two Boeing 757s, manufactured in 1992, MSN 25438 and MSN 2590, and an Airbus A320, MSN 65, manufactured in 1989, says Derk-Jan van Heerden, founder and general manager: “What’s interesting about the A320 is certain airlines...keep up components commonality within their fleet. So the age of the airplane is not the value-driver, it’s what actually is in the airplane. You might have one of the first A320s with the newest computers.”

Link #782

3. Standing Ground

Company: Air Salvage International (ASI)

Specifications: Averaging about 50 to 60 aircraft a year, ASI has so far dismantled 16 as of April this year. To date, ASI has parted out or dismantled more than 650 aircraft worldwide. “Globally and annually there’s about 600 [airplanes] removed from service . . . we take up 14% of that market,” says Mark Gregory, founder and managing director of ASI. The company has seen a drop in Boeing 737 Classics, however. Three or four years ago, ASI received around 20 737 Classics, but last year, just two. ASI is one of 11 founding members of AFRA, advocating and engaging to see more uniformity and credibility within the industry standards.

Link #1214 

4. The Part About Parts

Company: Zenith Aviation

Specifications: Zenith Aviation is all about parts, selling and buying up to $250 million, with extensive consignment options. Consignor services include protection and insurance, noncompeting inventory and logistical support such as storage, cataloging and advertising. The company’s Kardex Remstar automated inventory storage and retrieval system directs the operator to the exact location of the part within the warehouse, increasing accuracy to 99%. The carousels can support up to 600,000 SKU numbers. Zenith supports ATR-42/ATR-72, Bombardier CRJ 700/900 & Dash-8, Embraer ERJ-140, -170, and –90 series, and Dornier 328 and 288.

Link #1380

5. 777, a Rare Bird

Company: Aircraft Demolition

Specifications: Aircraft Demolition, also AFRA dual-accredited, offers disassembly, part-out, demolition, recycling, storage, jet engine recycling and obsolete inventory management. Last year, the company completed 60 engine projects, 15 aircraft part-outs where parts were reclaimed, and 20 aircraft that were recycled. This year, it hasn’t set specific goals but projects a comparable number of aircraft part-outs and disassemblies but fewer engines teardowns. Aircraft Demolition finished its most recent project in six weeks: a Boeing 777-300ER, removing the wings and fuselage to disassemble the center section to send back to Boeing for training and testing within the 777X program. Tim Zemanovic, CEO, speculates that the Boeing 737 NextGen, 757, 767 and 777 are the most in-demand airplanes currently. “The 777: There have only been about 10 of them parted out, ever. That’s what is making that one really exciting for the people who are doing that work,” says Zemanovic.

Link #520

6. ATR Part Out

Company: Rheinland Air Service (RAS)

Specifications: RAS, the first European ATR-approved MRO network partner, focuses on purchasing and dismantling ATR aircraft but services more than 50 different types of aircraft annually. According to Sven Schleussner, director of quality assurance, RAS has access to hard-to-find ATR parts like outer wing assemblies and landing gear. “RAS has increased its added value in the last couple of years and established a large shop capability to repair and/or overhaul components,” says Schleussner. “All parts are inspected, repaired or overhauled and certified as usable for service with the appropriate documentation—EASA Form One—dual release (FAA or TCCA).”

Link #1377

7. Recycling Without Rivalry

Company: Sycamore Aviation

Specifications: Sycamore, mainly a teardown service, also offers aircraft storage, Part 145 maintenance, parking, recertification, and in-house International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPM) rated crates and component storage with full logistical support. Their disassembly facility is also dual AFRA-accredited. Expressing its environmental stance, Leigh Marriner, sales manager, says Sycamore values a community mentality to approach the issues: “We as an industry must work together, share knowledge and resources to collectively minimize, if not completely eradicate, harm to the environment, and promote adherence to best practice standards.” Some of Sycamore’s upcoming potential projects could include a Boeing 767, Boeing 737 and Airbus A320, with a goal of 10 aircraft to be completed this year. “We are currently assisting several clients by providing resources to actually source the aircraft itself,” Marriner says. 

Link: #1379

Gallery See the intracies of a Boeing 777 being torn down at: 

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