In an intriguing turn of events, it appears the first two Boeing 787 Dreamliners are set to be scrapped for spare parts.
The aircraft in question are ex-Norwegian Air Shuttle aircraft, registered VP-CVL (ex LN-LNA) and VP-CVM (ex LN-LNB), which once flew for the long haul division of Norwegian from 2016 and 2015 respectively to 2019.
The two aircraft are the smallest variant of the Dreamliner family, being -8s, and have been in storage since May 2019.
Why are they being scrapped? Norwegian placed these two aircraft into storage when Boeing 787s with Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines were grounded due to engine fan blade corrosion.
However, due to the time it took for these aircraft to be fixed, plus the onset of the pandemic coming 10 months later and finally, Norwegian’s decision to end its long haul flights, these aircraft never made it back off the ground.
Since then, it seems the aircraft haven’t been able to find new buyers and have since sat dormant for almost four years.
What makes this more interesting is the fact these aircraft are not even 10 years old yet, which is unusual for an aircraft as most airliners typically last at least 20 to 25 years in service before being retired.
Eirtrade is now taking care of the two Boeing 787s
With the aircraft now in line for scrap, Irish-based company EirTrade is taking the helm of managing the operation to scrap the two aircraft.
Ken Fitzgibbon, EirTrade CEO said: “They’re being done side by side and it could take probably three to four months”.
He then added: “The dismantling process resembles a production line, but it’s reversed engineered, and in the end, we aim to recycle about 95% of the aircraft”.
EirTrade has had plenty of previous experience in scrapping aircraft including ones that were prematurely retired, such as ex-Air France A380s scrapped at Knock North West airport in Ireland and ex-Singapore Airlines A380s scrapped in Singapore.
These examples of modern-day airliners being scrapped early in their life show that this occurrence of the two 787s being scrapped isn’t an out-of-the-blue event and that it can be common for these types of aircraft to be scrapped.
Lee Carey, Vice President of asset management at EirTrade also made a good point about these 2 787s saying: “They were coming up to their 12-year check, the heaviest maintenance event that’s going to happen on these aircraft”.
The reason this is a good point is that other Boeing 787s will be approaching this major maintenance check too, so the demand for spare parts will be high and therefore the process of scrapping these 2 jets will be economically viable.
Other aircraft likely to follow
When Rolls-Royce-powered 787s encountered the fan blade corrosion issue in 2019, all 35 of Norwegian’s 787s were grounded. Although some of them have found new life with the likes of Air Europa and recent startup Norse Atlantic Airways, more of these ex-Norwegian Dreamliners are likely going to join the waiting list for scrap.
This is mostly because of their condition. The two now beginning to be scrapped have been in storage at Prestwick for 4 years, which is quite easily the least ideal place for aircraft storage.
The main reason behind this is the conditions, aircraft in storage need dry, arid conditions for their lifespan to be prolonged, however, Prestwick and Scotland in general don’t typically see these conditions all that often.
The inadequate storage location can also be said for the other ex-Norwegian 787s. These aircraft have also been in storage in the likes of Shannon and Prestwick, meaning these jets will likely head for the scrap heap in the not-so-distant future.