On Sunday evening I watched a feature presentation on 60 Minutes titled ‘Plane Graveyard’; it caught my attention for several reasons but mostly because event management life sees me traveling frequently and simply I am curious about what happens when an aircraft is superseded.
Qantas Airways will always be my favourite airline, I can hear some of you saying “what – really!!!!’ but for me the quality and safety is comforting. This 60 minutes feature presentation follows the journey of VH-OOG a Qantas 767 going into retirement, my interest is of course now peaked as I am sitting on the edge of my lounge suite totally focused on the television (and enjoying a KitKat!).
VH-OOG weighs in at 160 tones and has flown 5 million passengers or simply put another way it has flown the equivalent of 140 trips to the moon and back – amazing right! The story begins at the Sydney Airport where this Qantas 767 is heading to a destination where there is no return. Whilst this plane is still in good condition and working order she is being retired simply because with renewal comes retirement and this quarter century old aircraft is costly to run. Qantas has a high standard engineering program and it is very feasible that VH-OOG will be sold to another airline and will fly once again, with a little makeover of course!.
Taking off for the last time VH-OOG is given a spray of best wishes by the local fire fighter squad and traffic control; after 14 hours she lands gracefully in Victorville, California, a notable ‘plane graveyard’. There are many ‘plane graveyards’ in the USA all located in the middle of the dessert as there is less chance of corrosion due to the dry heat. Airlines from all over the world retire their fleets in ‘plane graveyards’ whilst they work out what they will do with their planes.
Qantas have 20 aircraft held in Victorville, a mix of jumbos, 767’s and 737’s; I am sure you can appreciate there is a lot of history here not just within the Qantas retired fleet but the other aircraft also. Most airlines strip their planes to sell as spare parts however Qantas keep their fleet in tact as they will most likely end up in the sky again with a new identity and branding. Retired aircraft sell for approximately 30-40 million dollars!
Previously I mentioned that with renewal there comes retirement and I have spoken briefly about what happens with retired aircraft but what is happening with the renewal element …………….within the Boeing factory in Seattle they are currently making 40x 737’s every working month and still cannot keep up with the demand, these new 737’s are being created with greater fuel efficiency and passenger comfort in mind. Over the last 5 years approximately 140 brand new planes have been purchased to replace old ones across all airlines!
So next time you board a flight, think a little bit about where your aircraft has been, who has travelled on it and where it will enviable end up. As a frequent flyer and event planner I know the next time I board a flight I will have a new found appreciation for the experience.
If you want to see more on this topic, here is the video.
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