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Scrapping with your head in the clouds

Dutch aircraft recycling specialist Aircraft End-Of-Life Solutions (AELS) has recycled more than 75 planes. Company ceo Derk-Jan van Heerden, who has a degree in aerospace engineering, is confident this number will increase significantly in the next couple of years, especially now it is possible to recycle up to 95% of an aircraft.

‘Hundreds of aircraft are retired every year – some say it’s as many as a thousand. This means there are lots of opportunities for growth, especially when it comes to dealing in spare parts from salvaged aircraft,’ Van Heerden says. ‘Indeed, the spare parts sector has grown into a multi-billion dollar business worldwide, not least because aircraft manufacturing is ramping up to keep pace with the latest aerospace innovations.’

Look at it this way: modern aircraft have an average life cycle of almost 25 years and when they are in operation, various parts have to be replaced. Some wear out several times per year. ‘Airlines know that to keep an aircraft on the ground costs them money so it’s best to replace the parts so it can fly,’ Van Heerden explains. Currently, we have over 10 000 parts in stock.

Looking back on the past year, the ceo comments: ‘It was a great year for us. AELS managed to triple its revenue last year compared to 2018 while we doubled our team. We bought eight aircraft in total, of which we scrapped half. This still leaves some dismantling jobs to be completed in the coming months and there are plenty of new projects lined up. I am sure 2020 is going to be an even better year.’

Stay tuned! The full interview will appear in the next issue of Recycling International.

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