Bombardier and GECAS join the growing list of accredited environmental aircraft fleet recyclers
Bombardier's West Virginia service centre has become accredited by AFRA (photo: Bombardier)
Tue 13 Apr 2010 – Although great importance is attached to focusing on the environmental benefits of new aircraft, around 6,000 older types are expected to reach their end-of-life in the next 20 years. According to the Aircraft Fleet Recycling Association (AFRA), the disposal of these aircraft is a major problem and many companies have now launched environmental programmes to address it. Founded in 2005 by 11 organizations committed to drive the aircraft industry towards solutions for the safe and environmentally most responsible way of managing end-of-life aircraft, AFRA now encompasses 42 members from 10 countries. Aircraft manufacturer Bombardier and GE Capital Aviation Services are the latest to be awarded AFRA accreditation for their dismantling operations.
AFRA says of the 400 to 450 aircraft that are scrapped and disassembled globally each year, around one third are parted out and disassembled by its member companies, producing upwards of 30,000 tons of aluminium and 1,800 tons of other specialty alloy metals for recycling annually. Members are targeting a 95% recyclability rate.
About half of the world’s parked aircraft fleet is stored at AFRA member facilities.
The organization says a key priority is the safe handling and disposal of materials that cannot be recycled, as well as returning reclaimed metals and composite materials back into commercial and aircraft manufacturing.
AFRA has developed a Best Management Practice (BMP) Guide – the first version dealt specifically with the best practice and minimum performance standards around airframe dismantling and laid out 45 separate best practice elements covering a complete range of dismantling and recycling issues. A second version, published in May last year, provided an additional focus on the dismantling of end-of-service-life aircraft engines. Members are currently developing a project to recycle aircraft interiors – most of which is not recyclable at all with current technology.
Another achievement trumpeted by AFRA is the launch of an accreditation programme that is designed, it says, to inform the aviation industry and customers that best management practice and environmental responsibility are at the heart of a company’s processes and practices. AFRA says accredited members are now actively sought out by aircraft owners for dismantling and recycling contracts.
Since the organization’s founding, 11 members have achieved AFRA accreditation and they have recently been joined by Bombardier Aerospace, the first original equipment manufacturer to be accredited, and GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS).
The Bombardier accreditation followed a two-day audit and covers teardown efforts for CRJ100/200 regional jets at its Service Centers in Bridgeport, West Virginia, and Tucson, Arizona.
“We are committed to being at the forefront of the aerospace industry with regard to corporate social responsibility and environmental stewardship, and are continually embedding sustainable development principles into our day-to-day practices – whether it be in recycling aircraft parts, reducing and offsetting carbon emissions or designing aircraft with reduced environmental impact,” commented James Hoblyn, President, Customer Services & Specialized and Amphibious Aircraft.
Last month, GECAS – the US and Irish commercial aircraft financing and leasing business of GE, with a fleet of 1,530 owned aircraft – was awarded accreditation for its airframe dismantling operation in Greenwood, Mississippi.
“We will continue to support safe, environmentally responsible and cost effective ways of recovering parts from aircraft engines and airframes after an aircraft is retired,” said Steve Connolly, the company’s General Manager, Asset Management Services.
AFRA Executive Director Martin Fraissignes said: “AFRA now sets the industry standards for the safe and sustainable disassembly of end-of-service aircraft – and these standards are of such environmental and financial value that the leaders in the industry continue to adopt them, as can be seen by the steadily increasing interest in AFRA accreditation.”
Update 26 Apr 2010 – Netherlands-based Aircraft End-of-Life Solutions (AELS) has also just received AFRA accreditation for its aircraft disassembly and dismantling business. AELS has used sustainable and green solutions to process 20 aircraft for clients such as KLM and Lufthansa.