Emirates To 'Upcycle' its First-ever A380

 - November 1, 2021, 3:29 PM
Emirates Airline's first Airbus A380 flew its final mission in March 2020. (Photo: Emirates Airline)

Emirates Airline plans to recycle the first Airbus A380 ever to join its fleet at a facility in the UAE, “dramatically reducing the environmental impact of the deconstruction process and drastically reducing landfill waste,” according to the airline.

A contract with Fujairah-based Falcon Aircraft Recycling will allow for extensive materials recovery and repurposing activities entirely in the UAE in an effort to minimize the project’s environmental footprint.

“Increasingly, retired aircraft are flown to remote locations and left to languish after being stripped for parts,” the airline said. “Traditional salvage and recycling projects focus on recovering only profitable components, thereby leaving behind a substantial portion of the aircraft and materials that go into landfills or sit idle indefinitely… Also, many aircraft items can be difficult to recycle or dispose of, for instance, fire retardant fabrics and composite materials.”

Emirates took delivery of the aircraft, registered A6-EDA, from Airbus’s Hamburg facility in July 2008; the A380 flew its final mission on March 8, 2020, before being designated for deregistration.

Falcon will design and manufacture “unique collectibles and retail items” from the materials and parts removed from the aircraft. 

Emirates has already withdrawn a handful of other A380s from its 117-strong A380 fleet and plans to take delivery of its final A380 before the end of the year.

Last year, Emirates retired A6-EDB, sending it to Tarbes Airport in Southern France for decommissioning. In 2019, it removed two A380s—A6-EEH and A6-EEK—from the fleet for spares, including landing gear, engines, and flight control components. The fact that the two aircraft had entered the fleet new only six to seven years earlier meant the equipment for which they were cannibalized was in good condition.

The aircraft’s onboard bar will likely present a target for memorabilia collectors, and part of the profits generated from souvenir sales will go to the airline’s global charity for disadvantaged children.

“That all repurposing activity will be fully executed in the UAE…speaks to the strong aviation eco-system and capabilities that the nation has built up in its short history,” said Emirates Airline president Tim Clark. “Through this initiative, our customers and fans can take home a piece of aviation history while saving valuable materials from landfills and contributing to a charitable cause through the Emirates Airline Foundation. It’s an elegant and fitting retirement solution for this iconic aircraft and our flagship.”