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1000 commercial aircraft to be retired each year for the next decade

About 1000 commercial aircraft each year will be retired. What should be done next?
About 1000 commercial aircraft each year will be retired. What should be done next?
Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

That MD-88 or Boeing 737 you took to Cancun earlier this year; chances are that plane will be retired and not flying if you were to take the same trip 10 yeas from now.

It's not that these planes are unsafe or falling apart, it's not become cyclical to change out planes more often, and the situation is about to reach critical mass.

"The aviation industry is facing an aircraft retirement Tsunami," explains Richard Brown ICF International Principal.

Brown recently told the attendees at the Aircraft Fleet Recycling Association's (AFRA) Annual Meeting in Washington D.C. that about 1000 aircraft a year will be retired for the next ten years.

It's become more a fiscal decision than a safety decision when it comes to replacing older aircraft.

"The combination of demographics as aircraft reach the end of their economic life, low interest rates, relatively high fuel prices and the introduction of new models is causing the retirement of unprecedented numbers of aircraft, while new technology and OEM production rates are also exacerbating aircraft retirements," adds Brown.

The equates to 41 percent of today's fleet leaving the skies in the next 20 years. Airlines are looking for more fuel-efficient airplanes and the savings they provide.

This is a big opportunity for companies that will look to recycle airline parts. It could be cost effective and will be good for the environment.

"There is a significant opportunity for companies to dismantle and recycle these retired airplanes to the highest standard rather than parking them in the desert," Julie Felgar, Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Managing Director of Environment Strategy said. "This is one of the reasons that AFRA's Accreditation process is becoming the industry standard of choice, as it is a recognized guarantor of quality service and sustainable environmental best practices for aircraft dismantling and recycling."

Big opportunities here in the U.S., the U.K. and other locales where aircraft have been parked to slowly rot.

Stay tuned, this will be a hot topic for years to come.

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