An airplane comes into life after a phase of high technology production which includes research and engineering designs able to respond to commercial and environmental needs. Normally, it takes a long time and production can last even up to a decade!
Once the parts are designed and built, they are assembled and, usually, the main manufacturers use a single plant for the assembly phase. The final step is the painting and assignment of the livery which is usually done by individual airlines
Once delivered to an airline company after purchase or leasing solutions, the aircraft gets a new livery and joins the fleet to begin operations as soon as possible. But the question that normally comes is ‘how long will it fly for?’
The service of an airplane is around 30 years based on the cycles of the plane. Which are:
• Age, calculated starting from the year of construction and commissioning
• The cycles of take-off and landing, or the number of performed flights
• The cycles of pressurization and depressurisation on the passages between take-off – flight – landing (which create wear of metallic materials). having undergo an average of 60/70 thousand cycles.
At this point, the maintenance of the aircraft in service would be too expensive and anti-economic, as well as not having more technological construction criteria both in terms of economy and the passenger’s comfort.
But sometimes, an old plane can find a new life, a new function and be used for something very different than flying…But it takes a lot of room – and a lot of money – to store these unused planes in the kind of hangars needed to keep them warm and dry. It’s much cheaper to store them in the kind of conditions found in airplane graveyards
Once a plane is retired…its not just a matter of flying it to the yard. It is one of the saddest moments all aviators can experience. Landing a plane at the final airfield and taxiing it to where other unused planes are perfectly arranged and handing over the keys knowing deep in mind that that plane will never rise up again is such a heartbreaking scenario. The Boneyard’s workers have extensive checklists on how to work on the planes. Any planes that have served on aircraft carriers have to be thoroughly washed to get rid of corroding salt. All aircraft have their fuel tanks and fuel lines drained, and flushed with a light, viscous oil similar to that used in sewing machines to ensure all the moving parts are lubricated. Then they must have any explosive devices safely removed. Then, any ducts or inlets are covered with aluminium tape and the aircraft are painted over with a special easily strippable paint – two coats of black, and a final white layer to help deflect the fierce sun and keep the aircraft relatively cool.
Some parts such as engines, electronics and avionics can be resold as they remain useful. Stripping the metals produces tonnes of metal which can be used in the future. The last part of the process is sending the aircraft to the shredder where it is prepared to be shredded into pieces and that is the dilation of the life of a plane.