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Aircraft Decommissioning

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Over 15,000 commercial aircraft have been retired worldwide in the past 35 years, and more recently, some 700 aircrafts per year are reaching the end of their operational lives. Many have just been parked in huge aircraft storage locations in desert areas. 

While the technical lifetime of an aircraft averages 27 years today, a growing number of aircrafts are undergoing early retirement for economic reasons. ​

Aircraft decommissioning is becoming a key process and  has to be properly managed to avoid environmental and safety risks.

What airlines need to know 

Aircraft decommissioning has economic, operational, regulatory, safety and environment implications. On the other hand, around 90% of aircraft parts can be reused or recycled, and components reusable as spare parts represent significant value. 

This means that if undertaken in a timely and appropriate manner, aircraft decommissioning can allow recovery of a good residual value from re-used parts and recycled material, whilst minimizing environmental and safety risks.

Best Industry Practices for Aircraft Decommissioning (BIPAD) 

For most airlines and other aircraft owners, such as lessors, limited experience is available on managing aircraft decommissioning as a controlled process. This is why IATA has developed guidance with a multi-stakeholder aircraft decommissioning industry group,  providing guidance on managing aircraft decommissioning in an economically sensible way, meeting all relevant regulations and avoiding safety and environmental risks.

IATA’s Best Industry Practices for Aircraft Decommissioning (BIPAD) manual is primarily addressed at aircraft owners and operators and is thus complementary to the AFRA Best Management Practices (BMP) designed for specialized aircraft dismantling and recycling companies.

The BIPAD manual covers all phases of the aircraft end-of-life process:

  1. Decision to decommission an aircraft
  2. Selection of facilities
  3. Disassembly process
  4. Dismantling process
  5. Parts distribution and recertification


The 2-day Aircraft Decommissioning Training provides guidance on business processes, operational experiences and best practices in the industry, reinforced with exercises, discussions, and role play to equip you with the knowledge to optimize the residual value from aircraft decommissioning.

Professional expertise with IATA Consulting

Aircraft owners and operators increasingly realize that they can benefit from reusing or recycling aircraft parts. The timing of such decisions is important in ensuring that aircraft owners and operators can derive the best value from selling or recycling aircraft parts.

IATA Consulting can assist and guide airlines and aircraft owners in the process of retiring aircraft from service. With expertise in developing and implementing best industry practices, we are able to support aircraft owners throughout the entire cycle of aircraft decommissioning, including dismantling and recycling. This way, aircraft owners can fully leverage the residual value from re-used aircraft parts and recycled materials, whilst minimizing environmental and safety risks.

Find out more about our aircraft decommissioning consulting services.

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