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How to Recycle an Airplane – One Piece at a Time

How to Recycle an Airplane – One Piece at a Time

If you’re a fan of the reduce, reuse and recycle movement, you’ve got to be impressed by Honeywell Aerospace Trading (HAT), a unique business that breathes new life into parts and materials recovered from retired aircraft.

It’s the ultimate sustainability story, according to Vidhyashankaran Iyer, HAT Vice President and General Manager. “HAT is a great, lower-cost alternative for customers needing ready access to quality, OEM certified parts,” he said. “In addition, aircraft recycling reduces the number of planes sitting idle in desert ‘boneyards’ and the volume of materials that wind up in landfills. So, it really is a win-win for the aviation industry and the environment.”

In fact, he estimates HAT, and its salvage-industry partners are able to recycle up to 75%-85% of a typical aircraft, including the airframe itself, which is sold as scrap metal. But the greatest value lies in an aircraft’s serviceable APU, mechanical and electronic components, which often have a long and productive “second life” after being reclaimed.

HAT specializes in buying and reselling preowned and new surplus parts acquired from airlines, leasing companies and maintenance, repair and overhaul centers (MRO's). The company also buys obsolete aircraft parts and works with dismantling centers to extract the value, one part at a time.

In most cases, these are aircraft nearing the end of their multi-decade service life. According to AFRA – the Aircraft Fleet Recycling Association – air carriers and lessors are expected to sideline 15,000 aircraft in the next two decades.

“Recently, we’ve seen airlines pulling aircraft out of storage to meet rising demand for travel as we get past the pandemic and they often need to replace parts before the aircraft can enter service,” Iyer said. “At the same time, customers are dealing with supply chain problems and part shortages, so meeting their needs with like-new parts that have been reconditioned, inspected and OEM certified for quality and airworthiness is a great alternative to ensure operations are not impacted.”

HAT specialists work closely with leading aircraft-dismantling companies to reclaim premium and hard-to-find parts from retiring aircraft. All HAT parts are subjected to a thorough AS9100-certified process to verify that they meet the highest airworthiness and quality standards.

The inspection, verification and refurbishment processes for parts manufactured by Honeywell are handled by Honeywell and its factory-authorized aftermarket service partners, ensuring that the equipment is repaired to original equipment manufacturer standards, carrying a Honeywell warranty. Non-Honeywell products are serviced by the manufacturer, authorized repair stations maintaining OEM integrity.

HAT also has established a consignment model that gives customers access to Honeywell and partner inventories, providing a one-stop shop for all available inventory as well as expanding the global market reach.

A few years ago, HAT entered the e-commerce world in a big way by starting the GoDirect Trade storefront, which gives buyers easy access to a wide range of purchasing options from Honeywell and other aerospace suppliers.

“GoDirect Trade has been a game-changer for Honeywell in the surplus and reconditioned part business,” Iyer said. “Our storefront creates a marketplace for buyers and sellers to come together in a seamless and secure way. We use the latest software and blockchain techniques to make sure all the parts and materials on the site are safe, certified, fully documented and verified.”

“HAT takes a nose-to-tail approach to aircraft used serviceable material,” he added. “We salvage every part that can be put back to work, which benefits our customers, the whole aerospace industry and the planet.”

Honeywell Aerospace Technologies

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