Salvage aircraft parts are a great way to save money on replacement parts. Aircraft salvage yards, also called bone yards or junk yards, are where junked airplanes are stored and dismantled. The used parts that are still functional and have value are sold at discounted prices. You can find salvage parts from military, commercial, and private airplanes at these places. Below I’ll share my experience with the aircraft salvage yards near me and discuss how they work.
Map of Aircraft Salvage Yards Near Me
For “Aircraft Salvage Yards Near Me” or “Aircraft Salvage Parts”, see the map below…
How the Aircraft Salvage Yards Near Me Operate
Aircraft salvage yards are business that deal in retired aircraft. They often serve three purposes: storage, reclamation, and salvage. They can come from different sources such as private owners, commercial airlines, or the military. Each yard operates slightly different based on the type of aircraft they deal in. For example you can’t just walk around a commercial airliner bone yard and a military bone yard requires you to book a tour. These places are considered limited access sites.
For commercial airliners they are in service for about 25 years, when they eventually get retired. They will then go to a aircraft boneyard where they are dismantled and recycled. Some of the aircraft may be temporarily stored and awaiting return to service, while others are there to be fixed, have parts reclamation or parts removed, or for dismantling and recycling. Military aircraft is dealt with in a similar fashion except sometimes the aircraft is retired and recycled due too surplus.
Since we are a salvage parts blog, we will focus less on how aircraft is temporarily stored on focused more on how to get aircraft salvage parts.
Why Do Planes Get Scrapped?
According to the Aircraft Recycling Wiki: Each year, 400 to 450 aircraft are scrapped and disassembled globally, for a $2 billion market for aircraft parts, and 12,500 aircraft will reach their end-of-life in the 20 years after 2009.
Whether the plane is private, commercial, or military, aircraft will get junked for many reasons. Often it is because of age, flight time, the type of flight lengths it has been exposed to, technology, safety issues, or the cost of repairs. At some point old aircraft costs more to keep in the air then the cost to scrap it.
Eventually all aircraft, particularly airliners, will be retired, dismantled, and recycled. This happens when it is determined that the plane is worth more when the parts are broken down and resold. If there parts still have their service records intact they often sell for higher prices. Unlike your standard auto junkyard, record keeping is very important. When salvaged aircraft part are sold, you have to provide the history of the part.
Parts that aren’t sold get recycled. The good news is that a metal aircraft can be recycled up to 85-90%.
Layout of a Bone Yard
These yards are located on or adjacent to airports and there is often some type of tarmac or runway on the lot. Some of the bigger bone yards that deal in military vehicles and commercial airline have planes neatly organized in rows along the tarmac and then pieces like fuselages, wings, and wheels, laid out next to them.
Some plane salvages that deal in small private planes like 6-8 seaters and Cessna’s aren’t quite organized. This is how the aircraft salvage near me is, its about 2000 single-engine pistons and corporate business jets some going back to 1940ish laid out on the lot.
Processing Hazardous Materials Before Parts Are Pulled
When new aircraft arrives from any source, it can’t just be put straight out in the yard. These are complicated vehicles, some like a Boeing 747 having 6 million parts and 147,000 lbs of aluminum. They also have hazardous and radioactive materials such as fuel, deicers, and batteries, that need to be handled according to strict government regulations. These materials require special recycling rules and would be extremely toxic to the environment if they were to seep into the ground. Once the fluids are drained, then the aircraft can go to the yard and used parts can be removed.
Used Aircraft Salvaged Parts
The most valuable stuff gets pulled first such as engines, flight controls, landing gear, black boxes, doors, avionics, windshields, and APU’s. These parts will be rebuilt and resold with a warranty. Smaller parts will also be pulled and either sold or reused on other aircraft for repairs. Not all salvage aircraft parts will actually be used for aircraft, there are people who will buy WWII military aircraft and make their parts into new products. Some people will even buy a 6-8 passenger fuselage and turn it into a tree house.
Once a plane is stripped down of all the valuable components and everything is sold off, what remains of the shell is recycled. Aircraft contains a lot of precious metals like copper, titanium, stainless steel, magnesium, and aluminum. These will be collected and sold for their weight per ton in scrap metal. Everything else is generally crushed into manageable pieces, which get recycled.
There is actually a methodology followed for recycling planes set forth by the the Aircraft Fleet Recycling Association. The AFRA publishes disassembly guides that you can read to understand more about the process.
Buying Used Parts
Most aircraft junkyards you are going to need to order salvage parts online via an order form. Private owners can purchase parts, but are also purchased by service repair facilities at airports.
Unlike a car salvage these parts won’t be removed by you via pick and pull, but by a professional aircraft mechanic. Most parts you get will be sold “as is” also referred to as “as removed”. The aircraft salvage assumes the parts to be working condition and most places don’t test them. You will however get a 30 day warranty which will exclude the cost of shipping in either direction.
Avionic parts are a bit different, because they will test these parts for you. You can often request any type of test you want, except having the piece dismantled. Doing that voids the warranty.
How Much are Used Airplane Parts
Prices can vary depending on what you are getting. Parts can range from $25 to $175,000 on smaller aircraft. Smaller prop planes engines from 40 year old planes still go for between $5000 and $15,000 depending on the size and condition. Older Garmin GPS’s will go for about $4,500. Propellers can range from $2,250 to $4000.
On a commercial airliner seats can go for $450 to $5,000 and the landing gear can be sold for millions of dollars. Parts as complicated as landing gear need a Certificate of Airworthiness to be reused on another aircraft.
Pros of Buying Airplane Salvage Parts
Saving money is the primary reason to get used aircraft parts. Why spend on new if you can find quality salvaged parts with maintenance records. This gives you some assurance about the part you are buying and transparency into how and when it was serviced. The other advantage is that these are manufacturer assembled pieces not after market parts made to fit.
Cons of Buying Airplane Salvage Parts
There can be quality issues with used parts. You don’t know how long they will last and you are trusting someone else’s service records. If you did get a part with a warranty if you don’t install it right away, you will run out of warranty on a part the aircraft salvo didn’t test.
The other thing that is difficult is finding exactly what you need. If you have an older aircraft, you are competing with a few other folks for the same few salvage plane parts available.
Watch Terry White Talk About His Awesome Aircraft Salvage…
The salvage in the video is White Industries in Bates City, Missouri is available for tours and buying salvage parts. While that is awesome, one of the coolest tours is the Pima Air & Space museum tour of Davis Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson Arizona. It is the largest airplane bone yard in the world and features 4,000+ aircraft from the U.S. Air Force, Navy-Marine Corps, Army, Coast Guard, NASA and more in varying stages of storage, reclamation, and recycling.
Aircraft Salvage Yards Near Me Conclusion
All salvage yards may operate slightly different then the one near me. They are great places to get salvage parts, serve the environment by recycling and reusing parts, and are fun to tour if you are interested in visiting one. The prices will vary depending on what kind of parts you are looking for, but more importantly you want the paperwork that comes with the parts. There are of course the common pros and cons of buying salvaged aircraft parts, but the cost saving compared to new is worth the risk for much of it. This is what I have learned from the aircraft salvage yards near me.