Valorisation of reusable parts in aviation

What happens when an aircraft reaches the end of its life cycle?

For aircrafts that are no longer in service, the owner considers the trade-off between direct resale and disassemble & recycled. Besides that, HELACS project (Holistic processes for the cost-effective and sustainable management of End of Life of Aircraft Composite Structures) is focused on the study of the second one of these options.

Disassembling

Some companies buy end-of-life aircraft, which their mechanics carefully disassemble. The removed parts are then placed in inventory, recertified and returned to the market. The removal of a serviceable component from one aircraft to repair another aircraft occurs as the result of unavailability of components in the supply system and excessive prices in aeronautical markets. That companies buy end-of-life aircraft, which their mechanics carefully disassemble. The removed parts are then placed in inventory, recertified and returned to the market.

That disassembled components are sold in different conditions: as removed (AR), overhauled (OH), serviceable (SV) and repaired (RP).

High valuated aircraft parts such as engines, APUs, avionics, flight control systems, engine control systems and thrust reversers, ECS, hydraulic systems, landing gear, safety equipment, wheels, brakes, pumps and electric motors are the components which nowadays are being reused in other aircrafts.

Disassembly process need necessarily be carried out by aircraft maintenance corporations authorized for these specific activities, as a means to maintain the airworthiness condition of the disassembled component. They offer a reliable source of high-quality aftermarket airframe spares to global customers.

Recycling

Recycling aircraft parts offers numerous environmental benefits, including reduction of water, soil, and air pollution, as well as landfills. Some of the materials (composites and alloys) in aircraft are costly to produce, so regaining these kinds of materials at a reasonable price is an environmentally responsible approach is of great interest to recycling and aircraft industries. Aluminium is a high-demand material for most industries, so recovering this material with less effort has gained the considerable interest of many industries. Recycling of a material requires less energy than that of producing virgin material and also reduces gas emissions and other emissions.

Also, using aircraft components for furniture and decoration requires less energy because it necessitates only some basic processes such as cutting, reshaping, sanding, and painting, in order for these to be turned into sophisticated furniture for many consumers. Finally, in terms of transport, mobile dismantling can provide a solution that can be applied in desert areas but when there is enough end of life aircrafts concentrated in one area, it might be profitable to establish a local bundle or cluster where dismantling and recycling can be executed directly.

Teruel International Airport, PLATA

It´s an industrial-aeronautical hub, recognized as the aeronautical platform of Teruel. It was chosen by Tarmac Aerosave to house one of the world's largest aircraft storage, maintenance and recycling site. And it is expected that thanks to HELACS project, recycling of CFRP components processes will be developed, validated and demonstrated.

Address: Polígono de Tiro, 4 44396 Teruel, Aragón, Spain.

Telephone: + 34 978 617 742

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Latest News HELACS

  • For aircrafts that are no longer in service, the owner considers the trade-off between direct resale and disassemble & recycled. Besides that, HELACS project (Holistic processes for the cost-effective and sustainable management of End of Life of Aircraft Composite Structures) is focused on the study of the second one of these options.

  • You can now download the official HELACS project brochure. A project comes to transform the dismantling process of the aircraft of the future. HELACS employs novel robotics to recycle composite materials of large components. The HELACS process is based on the application of high water pressure that will selectively chop the thermoset parts into a dimension suitable for recycling. In addition, the pyrolysis process is used for the carbonization of the thermoset matrix to reuse the carbon fibers that overcome this chemical decomposition.

  • AITIIP Technology Centre leads HELACS, a European project which aims to develop a dual methodology of controlled comprehensive dismantling in order to make possible the classification, recycling and reuse of aircraft parts made of thermoset and thermoplastic composites that have reached their end of life. Annually, the aeronautical industry is depositing more than 40,000 tons of end-of-life composite material waste in landfills. Thanks to the recovery of materials, the technology proposed by HELACS will benefit the change towards an energy efficiency model.

This project has received funding from the Clean Sky 2 Joint Undertaking under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement Nº 101007871
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