What Happens to Planes After Retirement

Do you think that the newer an airplane, the
safer the flight? Not quite. Modern commercial aircrafts are very robust. One of the oldest commercial airplanes, a
Boeing 737-200, made its first flight 40 years ago and still makes 3-4 regular flights a
day! But what happens to the retired aircraft? There are several options for airplanes that
don’t fly any more. One of the most common options is simply storage. (gee, wouldn’t that be a great name for
a cemetery? Simply Storage. Hmm, probably not….) The most ideal places for this purpose of
storing airliners are deserts with dry climates, where the planes won’t rust too quickly. There shouldn’t be any sand storms in the
area, or salt in the air. It would also require enough free space to
build a big parking lot, a long runway, and a local infrastructure to serve, fix or dismantle
airplanes. Most of these areas are located in the south-western
US – California, Arizona, New Mexico. But there are some in other countries too. In 2013, Teruel airport was opened near the
Spanish city of the same-name. It’s located in an uncrowded area at a height
of about half a mile, with a semiarid climate; an ideal combination for storing airplanes. There are more than a hundred airplanes stored
there already, and it’s currently expanding to be able to accept twice as many aircraft. Teruel doesn’t accept regular flights, but
is the largest airplane storage in Europe. So what happens to airplanes after they arrive? Some of them stay there for a short time while
property rights pass from one owner to another; and sometimes the waiting drags on. Others are repaired, and some find their final
resting place. Simply Storage. They’ll stay in this resting place for several
months, or even years, during which, they’re dismantled into parts. What’s left is sent for further processing. The unprocessed remains of an old airplane
will stay in an aviation cemetery – such as Davis–Monthan Air Force Base Aircraft
Boneyard, in Arizona. Apart from commercial airplanes, there are
about 4,400 other vehicles there, including 40 spaceships. It’s probably the biggest aviation cemetery
in the world. Kinda makes you wonder what an “airplane
zombie” would be like in this place, now doesn’t it? An airplane isn’t only the result of an engineer’s
work, or a means of transporting people and goods. It’s a heap of useful parts and materials,
which can be utilized in different ways apart from each other and the plane itself after
it’s no longer in use. When an airplane owner decides that it won’t
ever rise into the air again (sniff), they first salvage whatever funtioning parts they
can: engines, aviation electronics, fuel system elements, brakes, and separate pieces of the
body. Air Salvage International claims that 95%
of modern aircrafts can be reused. Sometimes parts of fuselage and other elements
aren’t recycled, but given to people who might be interested in them. For example, the cockpit can be used to train
pilots, and the passenger cabin – to train flight attendants, firemen and air marshals. Special companies deal with dismantling and
piecing out the airplanes. They also repair and do maintenance to the
ones that are still able to fly. One such company, British Air Salvage International,
says that working engines alone are worth about 2-4 million dollars, which is about
85% of the cost of an old airplane. Retired airplanes are in great demand in Hollywood
too. You didn’t think the studios make movies in
real functioning airplanes, did you? At Universal Studios, there’s a huge outdoor
plane crash set that was built for a for a movie directed by Steven Spielberg. A commercial Boeing 747 aircraft was bought
for the production, and then taken apart in pieces and transported to Universal. The plane cost $60,000, which is pretty reasonable
for an old Boeing 747. But the real expense was in the transportation. They had to use trucks, a police escort, and
a helicopter, with a final cost of $200,000. After production was done, the full set was
left just as it’d been during filming. Now visitors can see it when touring the studio. And yes, it’s pretty cool. Maybe the most honored fate for an old airplane
is to become a part of a museum exhibition. It might be a specialized museum of aviation,
like The National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio, or a universal
gathering of different vehicles like Auto & Technik Museum in Sinsheim – a technology
museum in Germany. This is the only museum in the world where
you can see both supersonic passenger planes that were once used for commercial aviation
– the British-French Concorde and the Soviet TU-144. One of the most impressive collections of
flying machines is gathered in the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York. It’s an aircraft carrier that’s been turned
into a museum. Among its exhibits are not only American military
planes and a Concorde, but also spaceships – the Enterprise shuttle and Soyuz. The ship is parked in the Hudson river, at
pier 86, with Manhattan skyscrapers as a background. Airplanes are also sometimes used as monuments
all around the world. Most of them are small military planes, which
serve to commemorate heroic pilots. But sometimes, big passenger planes also become
monuments as a reminder of a whole epoch in aviation history. Every once in awhile, old airplanes get to
start a whole new life. They can even be turned into a restaurant
or exhibition hall. Right in Stockholm’s Arlanda airport, a
Boeing 747-200 was reconstructed into a hotel. It’s called the STF Jumbo Stay. The airplane made it’s first flight in 1976
and kept flying till 2002, when the airline it belonged to went broke. This is where the aircraft stayed forever. Now the hotel offers both hostel-type accomodations,
and separate rooms with a bathroom. The best and most unusual room here is the
one in the cockpit. Guests staying here have not only a bathroom
but a balcony wth a view on the flying field. And if you think sleeping in a retired plane
is cool, how about dining in one? Close to the Zurich airport, there’s an aviation
restaurant called Runway 34. It’s in a parking shelter built above an old
Soviet passenger airplane that was produced in 1957. Another vintage plane, the 60-year-old Lockheed
Constellation, or “Connie” was driven on a truck from Maine to New York to become
a one-of-a-kind bar and restaurant for the TWA Hotel. After a 30 year flying career, Connie was
first bought in 1986 by a regional airline company in Maine, who transported it to Auburn-Lewiston
Airport to get it back in the air again. But instead, some of its parts were sold off
to repair other Connies. Eventually, the TWA Hotel gave it a new life. In even rarer cases, old airplanes like the
“Connie” are able to return to the air. The last regular flight of a Lockheed Constellation
plane was made on May 11, 1967 – about 21 years after these airplanes started flying
across the Atlantic from New York to Paris. Minor cargo operations and occasional carriages
were done till the beginning of the ‘90s, but the era of piston-type propeller-driven
airplanes was over, and the Constellation was their symbol. They were replaced with turbojet planes, which
were faster, more comfortable, and sustainable. Some of the 850 Connies were sent to museums,
and one of them became a restauraunt, as we just saw. But most of them were retired. It looked like nobody would ever have the
chance to fly one again. But happily, for the last remaining Constellation,
which could still fly at the end of the ’90s, a group of enthusiasts found it in the Dominican
Republic. The plane was repaired in the US, flown to
Switzerland, and put to work making short, entertaning flights with passengers. Buying a ticket would get you a flight from
Basel airport, complete with a history lesson on the Constellation, and the experience of
being a passenger in the 1950s. The whole project was supported by the SCFA
– Super Constellation Flyers Association, and the Breitling watch company. Unfortunately, it also came to an end when
Brietling pulled its financing. SCFA failed to fund the project on its own,
and soon announced that flights on the Connie would no longer be made. Well, nothing is eternal, after all! Sooner or later, it’s Simply Storage! Have you ever been to a hotel or restaurant
made out of an airplane? Let me know down in the comments! Hey, if you learned something new today, then
give the video a like and share it with a friend! And here are some other cool videos I think
you’ll enjoy. Just click to the left or right, and stay
on the Bright Side of life!

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