Over the next 20 years, more than 14,000 aircraft are to be permanently retired or withdrawn from service. In response to this, Airbus began the PAMELA-Life project in 2005, in order to set new eco-efficient standards for the management of these end-of-life aircraft.
The scope of the project which finished at the end of 2007 covered the entire process from storage to decommissioning, along with the disassembly, dismantling and recycling of materials and the management of potentially hazardous waste.
PAMELA, which stands for Process for the Advanced Management of End-of-Life Aircraft, was a Life project, supported by the European Commission and demonstrated that as much as 85 per cent of each aircraft´s components could be safely and effectively recycled, reused or recovered.
It was the world´s first full-scale demonstration project and has identified a generic methodology for handling all end-of-life aircraft, along with a set of best practices. Lessons learnt during PAMELA have been shared with Airbus´ design teams and suppliers to inform and support a fully integrated lifecycle approach to aircraft design and manufacture.
The project was a partnership between Airbus and Suez-Sita, EADS CCR, EADS-Sogerma Services and the Hautes Pyrénées Prefecture.
In 2005, Airbus became the first manufacturer to undertake a voluntarily approach to develop solutions for aircraft nearing permanent retirement with a dedicated demonstration project called PAMELA-LIFE. This investigative study´s purpose was to set new eco-efficient standards for the management of end-of-life aircraft.
PAMELA-LIFE was supported by the European Commission, and it successfully demonstrated a business step change: as much as 85 per cent of each aircraft´s components could be safely and effectively reused, recovered or recycled. As the world´s first such full-scale demonstration project, it also identified a generic methodology for handling all end-of-life aircraft, along with a set of best practices.
With this experience, Airbus and its Tarmac Aerosave joint venture use a proven method for dismantling and recycling the entire product range of Airbus aircraft in an environmentally and financially viable way. With the Tarmac Aerosave platform, Airbus and its partners have established a dedicated centre at Tarbes airport in France - where aircraft are industrially decommissioned, dismantled and recycled in safe and environmentally responsible conditions. The objective is to optimise recycling and valuation of aircraft materials, and reduce the quantity of waste remaining to be eliminated.
Airbus also has gained experience from Tarmac Aerosave, which is used as a source of information concerning aircraft ageing and improvements in dismantling techniques. This data is used as feedback for the different functions in Airbus, from aircraft early design to end-of-life management - including re-use of final valuation materials.
One key achievement of the PAMELA-LIFE project and of the Tarmac Aerosave industrial undertaking is a business shift from "cradle to grave" to "cradle to cradle" - mitigating the risks of future raw material scarcity.
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