Airbus takes a lead role in protecting the environment during the recycling of decommissioned airliners

Airbus is setting up a special centre in Southwest France for its

aircraft-recycling project called PAMELA, which will test procedures for the environmentally-friendly recycling of jetliners that have reached the end of their operational lifetimes.

19 September 2006 Feature story

An Airbus-initiated project to test environmentally-friendly recycling procedures with retired airliners has been selected for European Commission support in its LIFE * (l'Instrument Financier pour l'Environnement) programme.



With partners SITA, EADS CCR, Sogerma Services and the Préfecture des Hautes-Pyrénées, Airbus will now set up a special centre at Tarbes Airport in Southwest France, where procedures for the decommissioning and recycling aircraft in safe and environmentally responsible conditions will be tested.



Airbus will be setting standards for best practice in this field while controlling the way retired aircraft are handled. More than 4,000 airliners (about 200 aircraft per year over 20 years) will reach their end-of-life between 2004 and 2023. It is important to safely manage their disassembly both in terms of the environment and public health.



The idea behind the €2.4 million PAMELA (Process for Advanced Management of End-of-Life of Aircraft) project is to make sure that end-of-life aircraft such as 30-year-old A300s - which were Airbus' first flagships - do not end up rusting away on the side of airfields. The project wants to demonstrate that between 85 and 95 percent of new aircraft's components can be easily recycled, reused or recovered.



The project will also set up a new standard for safe and environmentally-friendly management of end-of-life aircraft, while covering the whole process from storage at the decommissioning phase, disassembling and dismantling, to the recycling or elimination of materials.



Equipment and products such as electronics systems, tyres, batteries, CFCs and hydraulic fluids from aircraft have to go through a controlled processing channel. With PAMELA, working spares recovered from end-of-life aircraft will be tracked and put safely back into the system.



As part of the project, PAMELA also will help launch a European network to disseminate information about this new innovative process. Airbus and its partners are keen to see Tarbes Airport become a centre of excellence with regard to PAMELA but also want to export their skills and technology to other regions of the world.

* More about the

LIFE programme on the European Commission's website.