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Aircraft Teardown & Part Out | AJW Viewpoint

5 Mar 2020

Everything you need to know about the teardown and part out of aircraft which has reached the end of its operating life. The low down on the teardown.

The low down on the teardown


Every year, approximately 600 commercial passenger and freighter aircraft are withdrawn from service. Some may be placed in long-term storage but the majority are parted out. What was once simply a means of ending an aircraft's operating life is now a vital, value-driven process through which aircraft owners and operators can harvest and monetise a wide range of assets with a useful lifespan.


With over 200 years of cumulative experience in teardowns, we have seen them evolve and refine over the past 25 years. It has also influenced how aircraft are parted out and developed proprietary methods that deliver greater value from the process.


The world's aircraft fleet grew five-fold to over 25,000 in the thirty-year period leading up to 2020 as air travel grew and the breadth of ownership and financing options for aircraft increased. With the growth of the fleet and financing options for it has come an increase in the number of aircraft being parted out every year, and increasingly at a younger average age than before, providing more options for leading aircraft component and engine suppliers.


Today we manage the teardowns of aircraft from 10 to 30 years old.


Staged process


To ensure aircraft parts are removed in accordance with the standard procedure, we provide the component maintenance manuals associated with that aircraft type and individual part number and serial number, as noted on the aircraft equipment listing, giving the teardown facility the exact information to remove those parts correctly.


With around 1000 components usually harvested from an aircraft, depending on its size, that process takes an average of three to five weeks from start date.


The first stage of any teardown consists of sourcing aircraft whose component assets meet the needs of the marketplace. A recent example of this was the shortage of Boeing 777 parts which led us to be the first in the UK to purchase one of these types for teardown - a Boeing 777-200LR with GE90 110/115 engines. To achieve successes like this, we are constantly reviewing the market and engaging with lessors and airlines.


Aircraft Teardown & Part Out  | AJW Viewpoint


The second stage includes the technical acceptance which commences when a letter of interest is received upon a successful bid for an aircraft. Documentation and inspection then commence of the constituent parts of the airframe. Parts that are to be returned and those to be kept must be logged, and this process is vital for ensuring asset value and acceptability at the point of sale after teardown and recertification/repair as required. The aircraft is also thoroughly inspected as are its records.


Once the purchase of the aircraft (third stage) is complete, the fourth and final stage is the teardown itself. Suppliers like AJW will partner with a third-party teardown specialist – and choosing the right partner is vital due to the importance of the disassembly process. The selection is based on location, experience and cost, and over the years we have built a trusted network of teardown partners, all of whom are Aircraft Fleet Recycling Association or 145 approved.


Smart salvage


An effective partnership between ourselves and the teardown facility is crucial. Our representatives work with carefully selected partners to produce a work scope showing how parts should be received and packed. A phased schedule of work is drawn up at the outset, with aircraft engines given key removal priority, and the facility has the contractual obligation to follow this.


Phase one normally starts with the easily accessible components such as avionics (flight deck and avionics bay), safety equipment including slides and lights; as these tend to be quick and easy to remove. In addition, at this time, the plan would be to also remove the APU and nacelle components due to the ease of removal and value to start the marketing and saleability of units as quickly as possible.


Phase two focuses on flying control surfaces such as flaps to enable removal of the hydraulic systems, with the task of removing the air conditioning LRU's along with the brakes and replacing the wheels to continue with the ability to move the airframe.


Finally, with the airframe stripped of all required LRU's comes the removal of the landing gears and wheels. If there is a requirement to remove the landing gears prior to the final stage it would clearly require access to a roll around set of gears to allow access and movement of the airframe as required.


Key factors


We have a specialised team that forecasts the potential teardown value before any aircraft purchase decision is made. If there is interest in an aircraft type and the assets that can be harvested from it, the first step is to scrutinise the aircraft equipment list and create a revenue forecast.


We will either buy an airframe and/or an engine which is considered to have potential for part-out, or work with the asset owner that approaches us to show that they can derive greater value from parting out - rather than the continuing operation with their expected returns. We then use our expertise to make profitable part-out possible.


We hold daily calls with our teardown partners to get an aircraft status update, and feedback on progress, and this will be cross-referenced with the agreed list of components to be harvested within the schedule of work.


All parts are harvested in 'as is' condition so cannot be fitted on another aircraft straight away in the majority of cases. Components are subsequently recertified/repaired or overhauled through our component MRO facility, AJW Technique, and its extensive network of repair vendors and OEMs. Once repaired and recertified, the parts will be stored at our UK HQ or shipped to strategic inventory hubs around the world ready for exchange, sale and loan.


Cleared to teardown


We have over 25 years' experience and are considered the market leaders, in the teardown process. We have created and implemented high-quality systems, procedures and processes to ensure it is a seamless transition from complete aircraft to its constituent components with all trace documentation, Back to Birth requirements are carefully managed and recorded to ensure the end product is available to the highest quality and industry requirements on offer.


Our teardown projects enable us to react and resolve component shortages in the marketplace and in our own pool. We carry out continuous assessments of aircraft under evaluation for future acquisition, teardown and component asset management.


We manage component inventory from all the major aircraft platforms including Airbus, Boeing, Bombardier, Embraer and ATR. Maintaining a pool of high-quality spares to support our extensive portfolio of airline customers on both our Power by the Hour and Ad Hoc business lines, with the ability to offer managed repairs or direct repairs with our repair facility AJW Technique, supported by our extensive pool of quality partners to ensure on-time delivery.


Want to talk to us about a teardown opportunity? Email our experts >


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