Alice Springs aircraft boneyard: where Qantas planes will go to die

By danwarne, June 3 2011
Alice Springs aircraft boneyard: where Qantas planes will go to die

Alice Springs has been named as the location for Australia's first aircraft boneyard -- a graveyard for aircraft past their use-by date.

The location is similar to the famous Mojave Desert aircraft boneyard in California, with vast unused spaces, and dry conditions to prevent aircraft from corrosion, in case panels and parts can be salvaged for other planes still in service.

The aircraft park will also cater for airlines wanting to mothball planes for a while, but keep them in good condition. Engines, planes, and windows are usually sealed up to keep pests out.

Asia Pacific Aircraft Storage (APAS) Managing Director Tom Vincent said that Alice Springs Airport presented ideal conditions.

“Aircraft have historically been ferried to the west coast of the United States for storage purposes. The APAS facility will provide a local alternative and deliver significant fleet efficiencies and costs savings for aircraft operators,” he said.

Qantas has planes mothballed in California, for example. In the future, the airline will be able to put planes out to pasture at Alice Springs rather than having to fly them all the way to the USA, at considerable cost.

The APAS website even suggests airlines can make the last flight a fare-earning one.

"The immense popularity of the famous "Uluru/Ayers Rock" allows aircraft operators and owners to defer ferrying costs through the operation of charter flights for tourists to Alice Springs, following which the aircraft will be placed into storage."

The 100 hectare boneyard will be located adjacent to the Alice Springs Airport runway and opposite the main terminal building.

Once they've made their final flight, planes will be able to taxi off the runway straight into the boneyard, where they will have their fuel drained.

Alice Springs Airport says it plans to ultimately accommodate 250-300 planes, and the project will take 18 months before it will be ready to accept carcasses.

Alice Springs Airport claims its runway is capable of accepting "any plane".

A quarter of a century on, we might even see a Qantas A380 mothballed there as Qantas moves to the yet-to-be-invented Airbus A1000 or the long-rumoured, often denied Boeing 797 blended-wing plane, pictured right. 

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