Creative ways to recycle a plane, new life for old aircraft parts
Where do all of those retired airplanes go? The numbers are huge: approximately 12,000 aircraft are set to be decommissioned by 2020. In addition, 2,000-3,000 planes are estimated to have been abandoned around the world (primarily in developing countries) according to the Aircraft Fleet Recycling Association (AFRA).
While some parts — especially engine parts — practically sell themselves and find “new homes”, other airplane parts can get more innovative second lives… Upcycling, also known as “creative reuse,” is the process of transforming waste materials into new materials or products of better quality or for increased environmental value.
Some furniture designers are more than intrigued by the potential of decommissioned airplanes due to that aircraft parts were designed with gleaming surfaces and the ability to withstand extremes.
California-based MotoArt that’s been designing beds, tables, chairs and sculptures constructed from deconstructed airplanes for more than a decade. For their designs they use twin-tails, wing ribs, fuselage doors, aileron, stratotanker from Boeing KC-135, well you get the picture.
Some designers reuse airline trolleys as multifunctional and decorative furniture, transforming in it into a filing cabinet or mini-bar, complete with shelves, glass front and LED lighting. German company Skypak also specializes in glammed-up airline trolleys, selling luxurious, attention-grabbing designs like the Pure Gold trolley, decorated with 24-carat gold leaf.
Architect David Hertz’s design, the Wing House, a Malibu mansion constructed from an entire Boeing 747, The most obviously aerial feature is, constructed from the wings of the former plane.
Recycling various aircraft materials and parts—from carbon fibre composites to aluminium and textiles—is not a new concept in the aviation industry. Some aircraft parts can also be recovered or refurbished for reuse in new aircraft. Nevertheless, making the most of some beautiful, rare materials and paying tribute to the skill involved in their manufacture is a demonstrate alternative and a positive way of dealing with waste.