After only 11 years in service, the first Singapore Airlines A380s have already been retired. While some have been repurposed as charter aircraft, one has already ended up at an aircraft graveyard.
What Is An Aircraft Graveyard?
An aircraft graveyard is a vast storage space where many aircraft that are no longer wanted are kept. There are several possible options for a retired aircraft.
Firstly, some are stored for future use. While they are not used today, they may be needed in the future. Whilst in storage, they have all of their ports and sensors sealed and their windows covered. In contrast, the ones that aren’t so lucky will be saved as before, however, they are being saved for parts. Typically the first thing to be removed from these aircraft is the engine. Finally, some of the aircraft are unfortunately torn apart straight away. Again, parts from these aircraft are used as spares.
Where Are Aircraft Graveyards?
Aircraft Graveyards are located all over the world. While there is a number scattered all over the world, the highest concentration is by far in the lower portion of the United States of America. The reason that the South of the US is so popular is that of the climate. The warm, dry climate in the desert areas mean that very little damage such as corrosion is minimised. In order for rust to form, water is needed. This means that dryer climates are better for preservation.
What About The A380?
The third A380 to be produced, after the two test aircraft, was delivered to Singapore Airlines in 2007. The aircraft, 9V-SKA, was retired by the airline in 2017, 10 years after it had been delivered. With a lifespan of 25 years, this aircraft hasn’t even reached half of its potential. While part of the reason is that the original A380 aircraft built were much less efficient than today’s, the A380 also serves a fairly niche market.
The A380 that has been scrapped has already started to be dismantled. The engines were removed straight away and leased back to Rolls-Royce to be used as spares. When engines undergo major work, it is not uncommon for manufacturers to swap them with spare engines so the aircraft can keep flying.
Along with 9V-SKA, the 4th A380 to built (9V-SKB) is also set to be salvaged for spares. High-value components, such as electronics and landing gear, will be removed from the planes, to be sold on. These perfectly serviceable parts are still airworthy and can cost a carrier a lot less than a brand new part. This is being carried out at Tarbes–Lourdes–Pyrénées Airport.
There are a few noteworthy graveyards in the world. The Chernobyl Exclusion Zone currently stores a number of aircraft used in the aftermath of the catastrophe, still contaminated with nuclear particles. In contrast, Universal Studios bought a B747 to use on the set of War Of The Worlds. Working out cheaper than building an aircraft set, the $2 million aircraft was destroyed to look like a crash scene. It now entertains many guests each day as part of the theme park’s tram tour.