[Aviation Today June 20, 2014] Over the next two decades, 41 percent of the current global in-service fleet of aircraft will be retired as airlines introduce more fuel-efficient planes into their operations. IFC International Principal Richard Brown referred to this process as an aircraft retirement "tsunami," during a presentation for attendees of the Aircraft Fleet Recycling Association's (AFRA) annual meeting in Washington, D.C.
"The aviation industry is facing an aircraft retirement Tsunami," said Brown. "The combination of demographics as aircraft reach the end of their economic life, low interest rates, relatively high fuel prices and the introduction of new models is causing the retirement of unprecedented numbers of aircraft, while new technology and OEM production rates are also exacerbating aircraft retirements."
According to Brown, by the end of the next decade, airlines and operators will start retiring up to 1,000 aircraft per year.
AFRA provides dismantling services as well as salvaging and recycling of aircraft parts and materials. Since its establishment in 2006, the group's members have contributed to 2,000 aircraft being returned to the market.
Commercial Airplanes Managing Director Julie Felgar told the meeting's attendees that "there is a significant opportunity for companies to dismantle and recycle their retired airplanes to the highest standard rather than parking them in the desert."
Martin Fraissignes, AFRA's executive director, said the group has seen significant market penetration over the last eight years, but that it is looking to establish AFRA accreditation as the industry standard for aircraft recycling.
"The broader aviation community, OEMs, airlines, and lessors have indicated in aircraft disassembly tender documents that they look favorably on applicants conducting teardowns to AFRA standards," said Fraissignes. "But we still have work to do, to ensure that AFRA Accreditation becomes the industry standard."