In a trend that will make many of us feel the passing of time, the number of A320s being retired and parted out is beginning to be quite noticeable.
A second British Airways A320 is about to be scrapped out for parts at Lasham, UK. It is G-BUSF (018), which flew its last service on 31/08/2007, and in its lifetime it completed around 33,000 hours in 26.500 flights. British Airways had already retired G-BUSD (011), it was cancelled as far back as 5/12/2006, only bits remained at Lasham by March this year. These are from the early series 100 batch, ordered by BCAL and taken over by BA, somewhat unwillingly at first.
In the USA, the move to retire A320s is gathering pace, 3 America West A320s were retired in 2006, 2 were not too old. Northwest are beginning to retire their older fleet members, for instance N307US (106), N308US (107) and N306US (060) have all been seen in various stages of stripping out, while N302US (032) was WFU in March and only bits remain at Mojave Airport.
Another 7 or 8 of the early (1989) batch delivered to Ansett Airlines in Australia have also been retired, mostly to places in the USA and are having parts removed.
While demand for new frames is as strong as ever, maybe someone can explain the economics of how the parts from an aircraft that is only 17 years old can be worth more than the flyable whole frame?
Eclipse:While demand for new frames is as strong as ever, maybe someone can explain the economics of how the parts from an aircraft that is only 17 years old can be worth more than the flyable whole frame?
Not to state the obvious here, but the age of an airframe isn't as important as the amount of cycles that it has flown. I'm unsure as to what the maximum life-cycle figure is for an A320, but I'd hazard a guess that most of the retired airframes were pretty close to this figure. Bear in mind that they have all been early-production examples too.
Either that or they were all probably due D-checks, which isn't the cheapest thing to put an airframe through. It makes economic sense for the airline/lessor to strip them and then flog the useable parts to the highest bidder. I'd say that the spares pool for the A320-family has until now been somewhat lacking - more early aircraft being parted-out means more spares are available to keep others in the skies for a little while longer.
Think of the whole process as being like organ donation; the body might be knackered but the insides are still useful.
Eclipse:These are from the early series 100 batch, ordered by BCAL and taken over by BA, somewhat unwillingly at first.
Operations-wise, the -100's have always been the thorn in BA's side purely because they are limited in range. As I understand it, the -100's were built without a centre fuel tank, effectively making them good for nothing except domestic and short-haul European ops.
Vidi, Vici, Veni. I saw, I conquered, I came.