El cementerio de aviones donde las aerolíneas envían aviones antiguos para ser desguazado

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AW | 2016 05 13 10:03 | AIRLINES MARKET

Roswell, N.M. · American Airlines Vuelo 9780 llega desde Dallas / Fort Worth y  otros aviones de pasajeros MD-80 como el sol de la mañana se levanta sobre el desierto de Nuevo México en una mañana fría de invierno. Pero a medida que el avión se detiene, no hay puerta de embarque. De hecho, no hay pasajeros a bordo que pagan en absoluto.

Los pilotos salen de la cabina y se dirigen hacia la parte trasera del avión. Ellos bajan las escaleras traseras de la salida de emergencia trasera del asiento del MD-80, y cuatro ocupantes del vuelo – dos pilotos, un empleado estadounidense y un periodista con calma – descienden los pasos en el sol de Nuevo México.

Líneas de planos se extienden por casi tan lejos como el ojo puede ver. Muchos llevan logotipos familiares. La mayoría de los aviones están intactos – pero no todos ellos. Resmas de piezas de aviones yacían por el suelo cerca del desierto. “Ellos cariñosamente llaman a esto el cementerio”, dice Martin Testorff, uno de los administradores de almacenamiento de aviones estadounidenses con sede aquí.

El “cementerio” es el término coloquial dado a las instalaciones de almacenamiento de aeronaves en las que se enviaron aviones fuera de uso para su venta, almacenado o desechado. La mayoría están en zonas áridas como California o Arizona. El de aquí en Nuevo México – oficialmente el Centro Internacional de Aire Roswell – es la instalación preferida para América.


Los argumentos de extensión del Centro se sientan junto a la pequeña terminal del aeropuerto de Roswell, donde Estados Unidos es el único proveedor que ofrece actualmente vuelos regulares de pasajeros regulares – tres por día a Dallas / Fort Worth. Pero es el flujo de aviones de más edad, al retirarse,  que son la verdadera alma de la International Air Center Roswell.

Los aeroplanos pueden asentarse de forma indefinida en el almacenamiento de aquí, donde el aire seco del desierto ayuda a mantener la aeronave de inactividad de la corrosión. Algunos encuentran segundas vidas, acogidos por los barcos de carga o por las compañías aéreas más pequeñas en el mundo en desarrollo. Otros se enfrentan a un extremo Stark – allanado por piezas o desechado por completo. Cualquiera sea el destino que le espera, Testorff dice: “Tomamos el buen cuidado de nuestros aviones a cabo aquí.”

Estados Unidos no es el único portador de retiros de aviones a Roswell, uno de alrededor de media docena de tales instalaciones en los Estados Unidos. Varios Boeing 777 de Asia Scoot transportadora de low-cost son visibles durante una visita reciente. Como es un viejo A300 Thai Airways Airbus y un Boeing 727 con un trabajo de pintura desvanecido con el paso del tiempo.

Hay aviones privados, también, incluyendo un rojo 1962 Lockheed Jetstar JT 12-5 que una vez voló Elvis, según el personal de American en Roswell. Pero la mayoría de los aviones actualmente en el terreno aquí han venido de América. Y por una buena razón: La aerolínea es la eliminación gradual de su otrora gran flota de aviones MD-80 y Boeing 757, retirándose los modelos más antiguos, como parte de un plan de renovación de flota agresivo.

El retiro del MD-80 – largo de la columna vertebral de la flota nacional de la American – ha sido especialmente prolífico. El portador de una vez tuvo más de 370 “Super 80”, como se refiere a ellosen American Airlines, en su flota. Pero están programados para ser eliminado en 2017, sustituido por modernos nuevos aviones Boeing y Airbus. La aerolínea ha estado enviando sus MD-80 al cementerio de Roswell desde 2003, con una tasa creciente en los últimos dos años a cerca de un retiropor semana.

Los aviones almacenados se han vuelto especialmente importante para American durante el tiempo que los últimos MD-80 y 757 permanecerán en su flota activa. Ambos aviones hanestado durante mucho tiempo fuera de la producción, lo que significa partes componentes de repuestos pueden ser difíciles de localizar si se necesita mantenimiento. Esto hace que sus hermanos ociosos en Roswell un enlace crucial para mantener los demás aviones de la flota en el aire. “Almacenamos ellos para que puedan utilizar el material para la flota, para mantener el vuelo de la flota”, dice Paul Bahle, gerente de la disposición aviones de American Airlines.

Mientras que el MD-80 es el forro del techo actual de American en Roswell, la línea aérea retira otros tipos de aeronaves aquí también, incluyendo 757 y unos 767, aviones alquilados se devuelven “y que venden tantos como podamos. Pero como se puede ver, mantenemos un buen montón de ellos aquí “, dice Bahle. Más allá de la parte comercial de la boneyard, el cementerio, hay un montón de intereses en la instalación de los entusiastas de la aviación. “Tenemos más solicitudes para los viajes a Disneylandia”, dice Testorff, a pesar de que la instalación no está abierto al público. “Ellos (la gente) siempre quieren venir a verlo y experimentarlo por sí mismos”, añade Bahle. “Para ver una línea aérea en una especie de luz diferente. Ellos sólo quieren salir y ver los aviones en diferentes estados de deterioro “.

Pat Walsh, el capitán en el vuelo 9780 que llevó a otro estadounidense MD-80 a “la Boneyard”, ha estado aquí anteriormente. Incluso está ansioso por otro vistazo. “Todas las compañías aéreas que han ido y venido en los últimos años,” dice Walsh, recordando una visita previa. “Pan Am, TWA y Braniff trajo muchos recuerdos de aquellos transportadores. Recuerdo cuando era un niño.” “Y ahora hay aviones de American Airlines como que estamos recibiendo nuevos aviones y se retiran nuestros más viejos”, añade, con lo que su visita llega al punto de partida. ᴀᴡ

 

The boneyard: Where airlines send old planes to be scrapped

ROSWELL, N.M. · American Airlines Flight 9780 arrives from Dallas/Fort Worth and taxis past a line of other MD-80 passenger jets as the morning sun rises over the New Mexico desert on a chilly morning this past winter. But as the jet comes to a stop, there’s no boarding gate or jet bridge. In fact, there are no paying passengers aboard at all.

The pilots leave the cockpit and head toward the rear of the plane. They drop the rear stairs from the 140-seat MD-80’s rear emergency exit, and the flight’s four occupants – two pilots, an American employee and a journalist – calmly descend the steps into the New Mexico sun.

Lines of planes stretch for nearly as far as the eye can see. Many bear familiar logos. Most planes are intact – but not all of them. Reams of airplane parts lay strewn nearby across the desert floor. “They affectionately call this the boneyard,” says Martin Testorff, one of American’s aircraft storage managers based here.
The “boneyard” is the colloquial term given to aircraft storage facilities where out-of-use planes are sent to be sold, stored or scrapped. Most are in arid locations such as California or Arizona. The one here in New Mexico – officially the Roswell International Air Center – is the preferred facility for American.

The Center’s sprawling grounds sit adjacent to Roswell’s tiny airport terminal, where American is the only carrier currently offering regular scheduled passenger flights – three per day to Dallas/Fort Worth. But it’s the flow of older, retiring jets that are the real lifeblood of the Roswell International Air Center.

Planes can sit indefinitely in storage here, where the dry desert air helps keep the idle aircraft from corroding. Some find second lives, taken in by cargo carriers or by smaller airlines in the developing world. Others face a stark end – raided for parts or scrapped altogether. Whatever fate awaits, Testorff says, “We take good care of our airplanes out here.”

American isn’t the only carrier to retire its planes to Roswell, one of about a half-dozen such facilities in the United States. Several Boeing 777s from Asian discount carrier Scoot are visible during one recent visit. As is an old Thai Airways Airbus A300 and a Boeing 727 with a long-faded paint job.

 

There are private aircraft, too, including a red 1962 Lockheed JetStar JT 12-5 that once flew Elvis, according to American’s staff at Roswell. But most of the planes currently on the ground here have come from American. And for good reason: The airline is phasing out its once-vast fleet of MD-80 and Boeing 757 jets, retiring those older models as part of an aggressive fleet-renewal plan.
The retirement of the MD-80 – long the backbone of American’s domestic fleet – has been especially prolific. The carrier once had more than 370 “Super 80s,” as American refers to them, in its fleet. But they’re scheduled to be phased out by 2017, replaced by modern new Boeing and Airbus jets. The airline has been sending its MD-80s to the Roswell boneyard since 2003, with the rate increasing in the past two years to about one retirement a week.
The stored planes have become especially important for American for as long as the last MD-80s and 757s remain in its active fleet. Both planes have long been out of production, meaning parts can be difficult to track down if maintenance is needed. This makes their idled brethren in Roswell a crucial link to keeping the others flying. “We store them so we can use the material for the fleet, to keep the fleet flying,” says Paul Bahle, manager of aircraft disposition for American Airlines.
While the MD-80 is the current headliner for American at Roswell, the airline retires other aircraft types here too, including 757s and a few 767s. Leased planes are returned “and we sell as many as the owned assets as we can. But as you can see, we keep quite a lot of them out here,” Bahle says. Beyond the business side of the boneyard, there’s plenty of interest in the facility from aviation enthusiasts. “We get more requests for tours than probably Disneyland,” Testorff says, even though the facility is not open to the public. “They (people) always want to come see it and experience it for themselves,” adds Bahle. “To see an airline in kind of a different light. They just want to come out and see the planes in different states of disrepair.”

Pat Walsh – the captain on Flight 9780 that brought yet another American MD-80 to “the Boneyard” – has been here previously. Even he’s eager for another look. “All the airlines that have come and gone over the years,” Walsh says, reminiscing about a previous visit. “Pan Am, TWA and Braniff brought back a lot of memories … those carriers I remember as a kid.” “And now there are American Airlines airplanes as we’re getting new airplanes and retiring our older ones,” he adds, bringing his visit full circle.

Ξ A I R G W A Y S Ξ
SOURCE: usatoday.com
DBk: Photographic © wired.com
AW-POST: 201605131003AR

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