Another Airbus A380 Goes For Teardown

Even before the crisis hit, A380s were already starting to be phased out by airlines.
Credit: Kurt Hofmann

The long-term fate of the Airbus A380 program was effectively sealed back in 2019 when Airbus decided to cease production of the widebody from 2021. COVID-19 went some way to reaffirming this, not just for A380, but also other large aircraft types with a limited remaining shelf-life such as the Boeing 747. 

But even before the crisis hit, A380s were already starting to be phased out, with A380 launch customer Singapore Airlines already returning some of its aircraft to German investor Dr. Peters Group, the first being parted out in 2019 by Tarmac Aerospace in France just more than one year ago.

Another A380-800, powered by the Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engine option, is the latest superjumbo owned by Dr. Peters heading for scrappage. The Dortmund-based company divested its first A380 in late 2017—a 10-year-old aircraft formerly operated by Singapore Airlines, which was the original launch customer for the program back in 2007.

Work on dismantling the latest superjumbo to be phased out began last month at Tarmac Aerosave’s site in Tarbes, France. VAS Aero Services, the U.S.-based maintenance and parts provider, is managing the process and will take components off the aircraft with the intention of reselling them.

“The aircraft to be dismantled is in flight-ready condition, increasing the reliability and serviceable life of the harvested parts, and assuring quick availability to support A380 operators and other fleets sharing part number commonality,” said Tommy Hughes, CEO of VAS.

Since COVID-19 took hold of the industry in March this year, many A380s have gone into long-term storage. Air France, which had initially planned to phase out the A380 by 2022, brought this forward due to the novel coronavirus pandemic and will not return its stored aircraft to service. German airline Lufthansa has also mothballed its entire fleet. As of December, just Emirates and China Southern Airlines are flying the aircraft on scheduled routes.

However, despite a decreasing fleet, an aftermarket for the superjumbo will remain, with a sizable proportion of the aircraft yet to reach their first D check. Despite the COVID-19 crisis leading to a commercial aftermarket value reduction for next year, Aviation Week’s Fleet & MRO Forecast predicts this will amount to a $3.3 billion value in 2021, with 50% of the work generated by engine maintenance.

James Pozzi

As Aviation Week's MRO Editor EMEA, James Pozzi covers the latest industry news from the European region and beyond. He also writes in-depth features on the commercial aftermarket for Inside MRO.