Every year 500-600 commercial passenger and freighter aircraft are withdrawn from service. Some of these might be placed in long-term storage, but many are disassembled. The number of organisations offering teardowns or part-out services has increased in recent years.
The part-out process involves an aircraft being withdrawn from service and dismantled. Engines and other components are removed and either returned to stock to support the rest of the fleet, or made available for sale or lease so that the owner can maximise asset values.
Aircraft might be parted out when they still have years of operational life remaining because owners believe the sum of the parts is worth more than the revenue that could be obtained from continued operations. Alternatively, an aircraft may be parted out as it approaches its utilisation threshold or when it becomes obsolete.
In many cases, aircraft are sold or consigned to parts trading specialists shortly after the are removed from service. “Parts trading companies probably own about 25% of the aircraft that are parted out,” estimates Corne. “They also manage a large percentage of part-out projects on a consignment basis from third-party owners, which in most cases are specialist investment funds.”
Touchdown Aviation (TDA) is a parts trading specialist with experience of the part-out market. TDA is headquartered in the Netherlands, but has recently opened a new facility in the UK. It offers aircraft component sales, leasing and exchange programmes. “We focus on narrowbodies, including younger A320 family airframes and 737NGs,” explains Julian Marcus, managing director at TDA. “Acquiring aircraft for part-out has allowed us to enlarge our inventory faster and at more competitive prices.” TDA manages part-outs for aircraft it has acquired directly or that it manages on a consignment basis for third-party owners. “Under the consignment process, the parts trader and owner agree on the percentage each party receives when the consigned material or components are sold,” explains Marcus. “The consignee handles everything in terms of logistics, marketing and the sale of the components, which are owned by the third party.”