General context

In the context of the tremendous drop in airline operational activity which led to the grounding of approximately two thirds of the global airline fleet, the topic of aircraft parking procedures and appropriate storage became more important than ever. It is therefore no surprise that these two aspects were of key concern for airlines in recent months. Most air carriers have opted to place a large chunk of their fleets in storage programs where the aircraft will sit idle. To complement this on-going effort, this page aims to remind some of the key considerations.

return to service parked aircraft

Aircraft parking procedures

aircraft parking procedure

Aircraft parking procedures vary per OEM and aircraft type. However, in general, one rule always applies: is the aircraft going to be parked longer than seven days, a set of procedures must be followed to help prevent deterioration of structure, engines and systems. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) supports the industry with global standards for managing airworthiness for operations. In most cases this includes entering the aircraft into a storage program with some aircraft types having the option to maintain a ready-for-flight condition.

The maintenance manual provides operators with detailed aircraft parking procedures and instructions for storage. In order to preserve the safety, airworthiness and value of the aircraft it is essential that these procedures are followed. The first thing that goes into parking an airplane long-term is the weather. Continuous exposure to freezing temperatures can damage tires. In addition, the moisture in the air can result in corrosion. Because of this, most aircraft are sent to aircraft storage locations in dry climates with little precipitation.

Within some return to service programs the removal of all rack-mounted electronic packages is required for the inspection of their condition, cleanliness, and signs of corrosion. Other tasks, depending on aircraft maintenance history, include installing landing gear safety pins, entry into the fuel tanks, as well as periodic power up of required systems. Return to service programs can also require gear retraction tests which then ideally require a hangar slot.

aircraft engineer return to service

Aircraft storage

  • Normal parking

    • Typically a few hours or overnight to a few days
    • Immediate ready-to-fly condition
    • May require small servicing tasks (refuelling)
  • Active (short-term) parking

    • Duration of parking usually ranges from few days to several weeks
    • Minimal initial preservation work involved (safety-pins, covers and plugs etc)
    • The return to flight, while not immediate, could be done on a short notice
  • Prolonged (long-Term) parking

    • Duration of a few weeks to several months
    • Preservation work involved  (e.g. landing gear lubrication)
    • Return to flight on short notice is not possible
  • Storage

    • Aircraft out of operations 3-6 months
    • Stationed in a location with difficult access for technical personnel
    • Major parts in preserved condition or removed (e.g. batteries, oxygen bottles, fire bottles, engines etc)

Getting back to the skies

aircraft parking and drone inspection

After a commercial aircraft has been sitting for several months, it must undergo several maintenance tasks and safety checks before it can fly passengers once again. Mainblades’ mission is to enable the aviation industry to perform this in an easier, faster and safer way. We show that the usage of drones and AI holds many opportunities to collaborate more tightly and avoid unexpected issues such as aircraft groundings.

Check out our latest white paper to learn how Mainblades can support airlines, lessors and MRO’s with drone technology to improve their aircraft parking procedures and storage workflows during these challenging times.

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