An Airbus A300-B2 aircraft reaching the end of its operations has arrived at Tarbes airport in southwest France for the start of experimental processes on how best to decommission and recycle aircraft.
The tests are taking place as part of the Airbus-led PAMELA project (Process for Advanced Management of End-of-life Aircraft). The project aims to demonstrate that around 90 per cent of aircraft parts and materials can be safely recycled or reused.
Tarbes airport is now home to an experimental centre for the testing of environmentally responsible decommissioning and recycling techniques. Set up by Airbus and its fellow PAMELA partners - waste management firm SITA, EADS CCR, Sogerma Services and the Préfecture des Hautes-Pyrénées - it is hoped the Tarbes centre will become a decommission centre of excellence, available for advice and support to the global aerospace industry.
Some 6,000 aircraft will cease to operate in the next 20 years - around 300 airplanes a year. This new project offers huge potential in terms of spreading best practice across the industry and is supported by the European Commission. Running until 2015 PAMELA will look at all aspects of end-of-life aircraft management, including how best to store the aircraft following their decommissioning, their dismantling and the safe disposal of materials.
Moreover, PAMELA will ensure that spare parts that can still be used are properly tracked and re-introduced into the spare parts market. Because of this, there will be precise processes for the removal of these spare parts, their tracking and certification.
The expertise and knowledge gathered will form the basis of future regulations and standardisation in this area of activity.