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Cathay Pacific To Recycle Retired Planes

A Cathay Pacific A340 being dismantled for recycling
Cathay Pacific Airways has committed to “environmentally-responsible” dismantling and recycling of aircraft that are being retired from its fleet.

A statement from the Hong Kong-based airline said that with the end-of-life solution for its Airbus A340s it is taking the reduction of waste to a whole new level.

Cathay Pacific received its first Airbus A340-300 in 1996. After undertaking around 13,000 flights on long-haul and regional routes, the aircraft are gradually being retired as part of an ongoing fleet modernisation programme. This will see older, less-efficient aircraft being replaced with new more fuel-efficient models. The remaining seven A340s in the fleet will be retired by the end of 2017.

Cathay Pacific Director – Corporate Affairs James Tong said: “At Cathay Pacific, we take our responsibility to the environment seriously. Through working with our partners, we are endeavouring to adopt a more environmentally responsible and systematic approach to dismantling retired aircraft.

“We are very pleased with the results so far, with up to 90% of the weight of aircraft being recycled and less than 10% going into landfills as waste. We remain committed to improving our environmental performance, making the most of technological advances to help us operate in a more sustainable way,” he added.

The airline has found a sustainable solution for breaking down and recycling the aircraft through AerFin Ltd, a UK company working out of in south-west France.

Four of Cathay Pacific’s A340s were retired in 2015 and transferred to a workshop to begin a three-step recycling process. The aeroplanes are decommissioned and their fuel and water tanks emptied. Then the equipment and parts, such as engines and landing gear, are dismantled, inspected, cleaned, and tagged before reuse. In the final step, waste that cannot be recycled is removed while the rest, including wiring, is recovered. The fuselage will eventually be cut up and the pieces sorted and sent to recyclers.

Aluminium makes up 40% of the aircraft’s total weight. This can be melted down and reused in the construction industry for making window frames or doors, or in industries such as aerospace or car manufacturing. Recycling aluminium in this way has the added benefit of reducing the energy needed for the primary production of the metal.

More information on Cathay Pacific’s sustainability work can be found on its website.

Image shows a Cathay Pacific A340 being dismantled for recycling, courtesy of Cathay Pacific.

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