How To Put Aircraft To Bed

The Hindu Business Line|April 29, 2020

How To Put Aircraft To Bed
Preserving grounded planes, to get them up and flying at short notice, is a challenging task. Ashwini Phadnis captures the process
Ashwini Phadnis

With all passenger flights in India being cancelled from March 25 till at least May 3, and most international airlines operating at less than their capacity, thousands of aircraft across the world are grounded.

Airlines in India have a combined fleet strength of over 650 aircraft. These aircraft have to be preserved and looked after so that they are ready to fly as and when the lockdowns are lifted.

Preserving aircraft while they are grounded is not a simple task like covering them with tarpaulin. Instead, both the interiors and exteriors of the aircraft need to be looked after. The preservation requires manpower, specific equipment, materials, and tools. Different types of general and specific protection covers are available, which may require use of different trestles, scissor lifts, and cherry pickers for installation.

Some tender loving care

John Walker, Head Maintenance, Qantas, in a statement, says that all aircraft are given some TLC (tender loving care) before being put to bed. “And even while they are asleep there is a lot of work to do,” he adds.

According to D Anand Bhaskar, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Air Works, a company in the Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) space for over seven decades, the preservation steps to be taken differ between the narrow-body and wide-body aircraft and also the duration of the grounding.

He adds that preservation of aircraft also depends on whether an aircraft is inside the hangar or on the ramp. If parked outside, the exteriors need to be protected against high winds and adverse weather conditions. Given that most airports are not built for holding aircraft (for extended periods of time) they are also parked on the ramp, making this aspect important.

Cleaning the interiors

A team of cleaners gives the interior of an aircraft an extensive “deep clean” that involves using high-grade disinfectant to wipe down surfaces, including in-flight entertainment screens, armrests, tray tables as well as giving the carpets a good hoover, Qantas says.

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April 29, 2020