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For French company, profit in recycling mothballed aircraft


An aircraft storage subsidiary of Airbus is finding there is good money to be made in breaking down old aircraft for parts and scrap. Storing planes can cost $25,000 each month, but breaking them down is usually less than $200,000, letting the plane’s owner resell valuable parts for a profit. Tarmac, the Airbus subsidiary, says parts like landing gear assemblies, flight control surfaces and even engine components can be serviced and reinstalled in flying aircraft. Cut off the cockpit as one section, and that can be converted into a full-featured flight deck simulator. The rest of the aluminum, electrical wiring and other parts are worth thousands of dollars to scrap metal buyers. There’s an upside for Airbus, too: the company gets a good look at how its planes (and the competition) stand up to years of use, including which parts fatigue first and which stay strong. Tarmac has so far only recycled about a dozen aircraft, but says as much as 90 percent of the material can be salvaged, rather than thrown out.