What happens to an old plane when it comes to the end of its useful flying career? Some get sent to the desert where they are simply allowed to slowly rust and decay. Others are painstakingly scrapped for all their useful parts – Emirates, for example, recently revealed it had already retired two of its Airbus A380’s so that they could cannibalise them for parts needed for the rest of its fleet.
Then there’s the shell of an old Etihad Airbus A320 plane which turned up in a scrapyard in rural Wales and was recently transformed into a holiday home – complete with an intact rear galley. In many cases, however, there’s a whole lot of plane that just doesn’t have any useful future life and it’s too costly to properly recycle.
Unless of course, it’s an old Airbus A340-600 that used to be owned by Lufthansa. High up in the Aragon mountains, Tarmac Aeorosave is currently decommissioning the decade-old plane and nearly everything is either going to be recycled or of much more interest, upcycled.
“For us, it’s an exciting challenge to stand in front of the plane and to visualise what could become of it one day,” says Marius Krämer from Wilco Design on a visit to the site in Spain where over 250 aircraft are currently ‘retired’.
“We’re particularly excited about the windows, which we’re later going to use to make wall-mounted bars,” he continues. Over 92 per cent of the massive plane will either be recycled or upcycled and aviation geeks will be able to buy a piece of the plane – whether it be one of 35,000 aluminium key fobs made from the shell of the plane or a slightly more expensive window bar.
Prices start at just €25 for a key fob, while a gym bag which made from the remains of a business class blanket and a headrest cover will set you back €32. Even the old safety cards have been upcycled in the making of a messenger bag that retails for a slightly more expensive €149.
On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, a coffee table made from a side panel of the A340-600 and limited to just 35 pieces is being sold on Lufthansa’s website from €1,399. The unique ‘wall bars’ made from two windows are selling for €1,444 and are limited to just 54 pieces.
“The nice thing about this upcycling project is that it’s a way of preserving a bit of the spirit of a decommissioned aircraft in a different form,” explains Christiana von Dewitz, a product designer at Lufthansa’s WorldShop which commissioned the project.
And it sounds like there’s still a lot more to come. “Aircraft provide so many opportunities,” she says… “And that’s why we’re still a long way from running out of ideas.”
The full collection is available from the Lufthansa WorldShop here.