Airplanes are expensive and cost a lot of money to buy and maintain, even though they bring in profits. For this reason, airlines typically get as much use out of planes as possible before retiring them.
What makes an airplane age?
An airplane is retired when it is considered too old for any more work. To understand what makes an airplane age, you must understand its pressurization cycle. Every time an airplane gets airborne, it is pressurized. This pressure, in turn, puts stress on the wings and fuses. The more the stress, the more the airplane ages.
Over time, these parts experience wear and tear. Although these parts are replaceable, a time comes when the whole plane is worn out and retired. The lifespan of an airplane is around 25 years. This is the maximum age it can get to with proper care and maintenance.
When do airplanes retire?
There is no set date when an airplane should be retired. This is because different types of planes age differently. Long-haul planes, for instance, take longer to age than short-haul planes.
That said, a regular airplane will typically retire around 18 years old. It is dangerous for an airline to use an old, rickety plane that could cause commercial airline accidents. For this reason, most planes are retired between 18 and 20 years old.
What happens when a plane is retired?
On retirement, most planes are dismantled, and the parts are sold to recoup at least some costs of an expensive asset. When pricing these parts, airlines factor in wear and tear to avoid selling parts that might contribute to a future accident.
Note that not all planes are dismantled and sold for parts. Some planes are refurbished and used in the film industry. Others are used for the training of flight attendants, pilots and engineers.
To sum up, old planes are not entirely useless; they can be remodeled and used for various purposes. It’s important to retire an aging plane so that worn-out components don’t contribute to any commercial accidents.