Airplanes are super expensive to make, so when airlines purchase them, they’re expecting a lot of years of service. Still though, even under the best of aviation circumstances, good things must come to an end and all aircraft are eventually retired.
The thing is, you’re talking about a BIG piece of transportation that costs a LOT of money. It’s not like an airline can just leave a retired plane outside on recycling day, y’know?
So what DOES happen to planes after they’re retired? My goal was to find out…
What makes an airplane age in the first place
According to Air & Space magazine, a plane’s age is measured by the number of pressurization cycles it’s gone through. Every time a plane takes flight, it’s pressurized, which puts stress on its fuselage and wings. Regular maintenance of the plane will help determine if some of the plane’s components have become weaker by the multiple pressurization cycles, and those parts can be replaced as needed. But eventually, a plane will become over fatigued, so a few years before they get to that point, it’s time to retire it.
What happens after a plane is retired
There are several options for airplanes that don’t fly anymore. One of the most common options is simply storage. The most ideal places for this purpose of storing airliners are deserts with dry, non-salty climates, where the planes won’t rust too quickly. But although lots of retired planes wind up in the aviation equivalent of an old folks’ home, not all do. Take a look:
Here are a few highlights of the video:
On a related note, Lufthansa upcycled an old plane and turned it into furniture and household goods earlier this year.
Also, Joe and I got to visit Connie, the plane mentioned at 6:53, when we stayed at the TWA Hotel. They did a beautiful job with her!
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary