What’s Left at the End

Angle grinders screech, sparks fly. Engineers are cutting window segments out of the A340-600 D-AIHO, which has flown Lufthansa passengers to America and Asia for more than a decade. It is now standing on an enormous plane parking space on a high plain in Aragon, Spain – waiting to live again, for example in the form of coffee tables or sculptures.

Airbus A340-600 D-AIHO
Airbus A340-600 D-AIHO

Aircraft Parts for Everyone

Upcycling in aviation – that is the way to give decommissioned aircraft parts a second life: windows are not dismantled into their individual raw materials, but repurposed into wall-mounted bars, for example. Coffee tables are made of wing parts and up to 35,000 luggage tags from the plane skin. The retro look is a particular highlight. The project manager is Michael Menzel, Teardown Manager at Lufthansa Technik: “Parts with the crane or the Lufthansa logo are very popular. It’s great when you can immediately see from the shape and material that they are genuine aircraft parts.” With this attention to detail, Michael Menzel has seen the aircraft in Spain with very different eyes, together with Miles & More project managers Hilke Siebecker and Christiana von Dewitz and designers, and has picked out the best parts.

Every year, around 800 to 1,000 planes are decommissioned worldwide, and the trend is rising. Engineers have always removed expensive working components, such as flight computers. Companies such as Lufthansa Technik inspect, maintain and recertify them. The days when the gutted planes were permanently parked in desert regions have long gone, however. Today, materials such as aluminium, copper, glass or rubber are recycled. In total, around 92 per cent of the raw materials in an aeroplane can be reused.

Upcycling Picking Up Speed

In future, Lufthansa Technik together with Miles & More will rely on upcycling more; there are plenty of creative ideas. And demand is exceeding expectations. Many products from the A340-600 D-AIHO have already sold out.

Airbus A340-600 D-AIHO
Airbus A340-600 D-AIHO



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