Where Airlines Send Old Planes to be Scrapped
American Airlines Flight 9780 touches base from Dallas/Fort Worth and cabs past a line of other MD-80 traveler flies as the morning sun ascends over the New Mexico betray on a cold morning this past winter. In any case, as the stream halts, there’s no boarding entryway or fly extension. Actually, there are no paying travelers on board by any means.
The pilots leave the cockpit and make a beeline for the back of the plane. They drop the back stairs from the 140-situate MD-80’s back crisis exit, and the flight’s four inhabitants – two pilots, an American representative and a columnist – tranquilly dive the means into the New Mexico sun.
Lines of planes extend for about to the extent the eye can see. Numerous bear commonplace logos. Most planes are in place – however not every one of them. Reams of plane parts lay strewn close-by over the abandon floor.
“They warmly call this the boneyard,” says Martin Testorff, one of American’s air ship stockpiling administrators based here.
The “boneyard” is the casual term given to air ship storerooms where out-of-utilization planes are sent to be sold, put away or rejected. Most are in bone-dry areas, for example, California or Arizona. The one here in New Mexico – authoritatively the Roswell International Air Center – is the favored office for American.
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There are private aircraft, too, including a red 1962 Lockheed JetStar JT 12-5 that once flew Elvis, according to American’s staff at Roswell. But most of the planes currently on the ground here have come from American. And for good reason: The airline is phasing out its once-vast fleet of MD-80 and Boeing 757 jets, retiring those older models as part of an aggressive fleet-renewal plan.
The retirement of the MD-80 – long the backbone of American’s domestic fleet – has been especially prolific. The carrier once had more than 370 “Super 80s,” as American refers to them, in its fleet. But they’re scheduled to be phased out by 2017, replaced by modern new Boeing and Airbus jets. The airline has been sending its MD-80s to the Roswell boneyard since 2003, with the rate increasing in the past two years to about one retirement a week.