How Do Airlines Prepare Their Fleet for Hibernation?

Photo: Brussels Airlines

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No doubts that the coronavirus has turned the world upside down. In terms of aviation, there is a near shutdown in air travel, airlines are swapping passengers for essential cargo supplies. The current situation is without precedent in history.

As for now, nearly half of the global fleet safely hibernates. And it is a new normal for the aviation industry. Although the process of putting planes into storage is not a new phenomenon, it is a new normal for airlines, airports, etc.

For many of us it is difficult to understand how operators take care of their fleet and, on the whole, what aircraft hibernation means. Let’s take a quick glimpse into the way Brussels Airlines has prepared its fleet to wait when it can soar again.

Brussels Airlines is one of many carriers worldwide that had to temporary halt all its scheduled services and ground its aircraft. Although several planes are on standby in case they are needed for any emergency operations, all the rest of the birds have found shelter at Brussels Airport.

How do you imagine the process of putting the aircraft into storage? Can you even image it?

Brussels Airlines reveals that the whole procedure is a way more complicated than simply parking a car. Airframers even provide operators with dedicated instructions for storing the planes safely.

These instructions, in turn, have to be followed with high precision in order for the airline to gain immediate benefits from smooth aircraft lift and sooner operations start.

Brussels Airlines

For example, the carrier explained that storing an Airbus A330 takes about 400 man hours. Wondering why so many?

“This means that all windows are taped to prevent sunlight from decolouring the interior, landing gears and engines are thoroughly packed so that birds cannot nest in them and to prevent corrosion. All our seats are covered as well, to keep them crisp and clean”, says the airline

Brussels Airlines

But storing the plane is not the end of the story. Aircraft cannot be left alone for the period of hibernation. For instance, every single day the wheels have to be turned just slightly, to make sure they do not get worn out under the weight of the aircraft and every week, inspections and tests need to be performed.

This means that even during quarantine 30 Maintenance & Engineering team members of the Brussels Airlines have to work hard at their own front.

Brussels Airlines