Any aircraft, be it commercial or military has a lifespan. The final flight a commercial aircraft is usually given a farewell, most commonly known as the aircraft’s final flight allowing the people to see the aircraft in its colors for the last time. But what happens to the aircraft after its final flight?
Where do these large numbers of retired airplanes go?
Few airlines often display the aircraft in an open-air aviation museum, leaving the remaining airplanes in aircraft graveyards or aircraft boneyards. An aircraft graveyard or boneyard is where most of the airlines keep their aircraft that are no more
in service. Most of these aircraft are stored after their parts are taken out for reuse or to be resold. The airplanes are crushed by excavators and then stored forever in the boneyard. Deserts are so far the best place for boneyards. These boneyards are often far from human settlements. Low humidity and the baking sun will slow down the corrosion of the retired aircraft.
Most of these boneyards can be found in the U.S. Apart from the open space, dry air and very little rain make it perfect to store these retired airplanes in the U.S. These boneyards are mostly closed for Visitors. Here are few commonly known aircraft boneyards.
Davis Monthan – United States
This is so far the largest aircraft boneyard in the world located in Arizona. This graveyard stores around 4,500 aircraft and spreads over nearly 2,600 acres of land. The boneyard is taken care of by the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group. The majority of the airplanes are military airplanes which include the B-52 bombers, C-47 Skytrains. The facility is closed for visitors and has limited access.
Phoenix Goodyear Airport – United States
The primary purpose of the Goodyear Airport was to preserve U.S. Navy, Marines Corps, and Coast Guard Aircraft. The facility stored more than 5,000 aircraft. The Phoenix Goodyear airport today is home to private companies that offer aircraft maintenance, storage, and commercial pilot training. It often serves as a general aviation reliever airport to relieve congestion at Phoenix Sky Harbor airport.
Tarmac aircraft boneyard – Spain
This is one of the biggest aircraft boneyards in Europe. The facility opened in 2013 and offers long-term aircraft storage, recycling, painting, and aircraft assembly. It was initially built to store commercial aircraft including Boeing, Bombardier, and Airbus. It is built to handle around 250 airplanes. Located at around 1,000 meters above sea level, the cold and dry climate offers the perfect weather condition to store airplanes.
Southern California Logistics Airport – United States
Southern California Logistics Airport or SCLA not only offers storage facilities but also offers globally accessible facilities to a huge number of aviation and logistics companies. The hangars at SCLA are often known to accommodate projects ranging from aircraft maintenance to the painting of wide-body airplanes including the Boeing 747, 777s, and 787s. The longest runway is around 15,000ft allowing it to accommodate any airplane flying today.
Alice Springs – Australia
Alice Springs facility is managed by a company called Asia Pacific Aircraft Storage or APAS. The facility offers storage for short term and long terms storage of airplanes. The region is known for its arid and climate and low humidity. There are currently 20 aircraft stored in the Alice Springs out of which 6 are Singapore Airlines’ A380s.