If you’re in the market for a pair of lightly used widebody aircraft, you better head to Scotland fast and put in an offer — before two Boeing 787-8s formerly flying for Norwegian Air Shuttle get stripped for parts.
Both planes are under 10 years old, as they were delivered in June and August 2013. Except for a testbed scrapped by Boeing in 2018, these are the first Dreamliners to be retired, and their disassembly, which began in early March, is taking place at Prestwick Airport near Glasgow, Scotland.
“They’re being done side by side and it could take probably three to four months,” says Ken Fitzgibbon, CEO of EirTrade, the Dublin-based aviation trading company that is managing the operation. “The dismantling process resembles a production line, but it’s reverse engineered, and in the end we aim to recycle about 95% of the aircraft.”
EirTrade has previous experience in scrapping young widebody aircraft, having worked on retired A380s from Singapore Airlines and Air France that were also about a decade old.
“The 787 is a very new aircraft and it’s probably hard for people outside of aviation to get their head around this,” says Lee Carey, VP of asset management at Eirtrade, who points to upkeep costs as one of the reasons the planes are being cut up. “They were coming up to their 12-year check, the heaviest maintenance event that’s going to happen on these aircraft.”
As many other 787s that are still flying are also coming up to this landmark maintenance event, demand for parts will spike, making the operation economically viable.