Adrian M Balch reports from Kemble, Gloucestershire on Air Salvage International which has 20 years experience in aircraft disassembly.

Former Air France Airbus A340-311, F-GLZH, awaits disposal with all usable parts removed.
All photos by the author, unless stated

Record rates of airliner production by Boeing and Airbus almost inevitably leads to an equally high level of aircraft withdrawals. Worldwide, around 600 passenger aircraft are retired from service each year.

Most go to Marana, Mojave, Goodyear, Victorville, Kingman and Roswell in the southwestern USA; all are swollen with vintage jets of the 1980s and 1990s that have no future in the skies. Break-up rates at these places is comparatively slow, since there is no pressing need to re-use the space occupied by an old jet.

It’s a different story in the UK. Storage capacity is often at a premium, leading recyclers to work at a much more rapid pace to salvage parts and chop up withdrawn airliners.

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