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Aircraft retirements to almost double in next decade

United States – Due to accelerated fleet renewal driven by the competitive fuel-burning performance of modern airplanes, ‘€˜the number of airplanes leaving the global fleet will nearly double in the next decade’€™, according to Larry Schneider, Boeing’€™s Vice President for Product Development. Last year, some 400 aircraft were retired worldwide.

Addressing the annual meeting of the Aircraft Fleet Recycling Association (AFRA), held in the US city of Seattle on June 26, Mr Schneider stated that this development would ‘€˜rapidly increase the demand for aircraft dismantling and recycling services, and introduce unique challenges to the sector’€™.

Boeing’€™s studies suggest fuel-burning costs make up close to 60% of total operating costs compared to ‘€˜just 30% in the not-too-distant past’€™, noted Mr Schneider. Meanwhile, the company’€™s new generation of airplanes ‘€˜can reduce fuel-burn costs by more than 20%’€™, thus rendering them an attractive investment.

Should this trend persist, the major aviation player gauges that around 44% of the global fleet will be replaced in the next 20 years, which amounts to well over 13 000 airplanes. According to Mr Schneider, the brands look to AFRA to set the example in terms of establishing recycling technologies.

‘€˜If Boeing is to reach its 90% recycling objective by 2016, an enormous amount of collaboration is the key,’€™ the executive ventured. There is a particular need to enhance technologies which ‘€˜reduce the full life-cycle costs of recycling’€™, he continued. ‘€˜In order to give a higher recycling value to aircrafts so both owners and airlines will want to recycle, there really needs to be a greater economic incentive to recycle.’€™

Mr Schneider would prefer to see more recycled materials going into the aviation market. This wish is supported by AFRA’€™s Executive Director Martin Fraissignes, who added: ‘€˜There needs to be greater market demand for recycled material. Manufacturers have to design these material options into their products and recyclers have to develop new technologies, and produce the volumes that encourage the whole process.’€™

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