Much to the delight of both residents and staff at the Asia Pacific Aircraft Storage in Alice Springs, four A380’s flew in from Singapore last week. The aircraft, victims of the COVID-19 travel restrictions currently devastating the aviation industry, will join six grounded Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes that arrived last year. With no end in sight to the global pandemic, it is likely Alice Springs will see more arrivals over the coming months.
Why Alice Springs?
Alice Springs has the perfect climate for plane storage. The air is warm and dry with very little humidity and there’s hardly any rain or storm activity. Humid conditions in hubs like Singapore and Hong Kong make them unsuitable for long-term plane storage. Humidity is corrosive and can cause serious damage to engines and other mechanical components including interiors.
“The humidity of Singapore [would be] a real problem for what are composite and aluminium aeroplanes” – Aviation industry analyst Neil Hansford
With the tourism industry decimated, it is estimated that 62% of the world’s aircraft are currently grounded. That’s a lot of parking spots the industry had not factored into their requirements given that in normal conditions, a proportion of each airline’s aircraft will always be in the air.
How To Store A Plane?
Storing a plane isn’t a simple process. It involves a lengthy preparation period and ongoing mainteance including:
- sealing aircraft so they are airtight
- running engines and powering up aircraft
- checking flight controls
- covering sensors and engines
- placement of silica moisture absorption sachets inside engines
- covering all external holes to block insects and nesting birds.
- rotation of tires
- adding hydraulic fluid to the landing gear to prevent rust
As you can imagine all this comes at a cost, with airplane storage starting at $1000 a day. With about 20 aircraft currently in storage at Alice Springs, the Asia Pacific Aircraft Storage is hiring more staff and purchasing more equipment in anticipation of more aircraft arriving.