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CPH-R
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Crashed Aircraft - What Happens To The Remains?

Tue Aug 26, 2008 6:37 am

I apologize in advance if anyone feels offended by the subject, but I'm a member of a forum dedicated to skeptics (the James Randi Educational Foundation) and I have a keen interest in trying to debunk the numerous conspiracy theories surrounding the tragedy of 9/11, especially those dealing with the aircraft. An interesting subject has come up recently, and so I was wondering if some the Tech/Ops regulars had an idea about it.

Basically, when aircraft are damaged beyond economical repair, the insurance on the particular aircraft is then cashed in and the insurance company (being the new legal owners of the airframe) then usually have whatever working bits remain turned into spares, right?

However, when very little of an aircraft remains or when the remains are in small bits and pieces, then what happens to it? Is it kept in case of a renewed investigation, smelted down or something third?
 
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Starlionblue
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RE: Crashed Aircraft - What Happens To The Remains?

Tue Aug 26, 2008 7:19 am

It probably varies by country, but in general I understand the process to be thus:

1. Everything is impounded by the crash investigators. This is just like a criminal investigation.
2. Once the investigators are done, non-airline stuff is typically released first. Typically bodies first, then personal effects. These go to families.
3. Once the investigators are done with the aircraft itself, they release it in parts or as a whole. It may be that they are done with some of it but want to keep other parts for further investigation.
4. What happens next depends on "salvageability". If the aircraft can be repaired, that is done. Otherwise the owner (leasing company/ies or airline) will salvage the parts that can be used again, and sell the rest for scrap value. Note that ownership can be complex. Various parts can be owned by various leasing companies for example. This part is not very different from turning in your old car to the junkyard. They'll salvage the parts they can sell whole, then crunch it into component parts and salvage those.

I imagine insurance assessors are running around and adding their bit to the circus..

Quoting CPH-R (Thread starter):
Is it kept in case of a renewed investigation, smelted down or something third?

So the answer is yes, yes and the "third" is simply "sold".
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
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scbriml
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RE: Crashed Aircraft - What Happens To The Remains?

Tue Aug 26, 2008 9:01 am

In the case of this Kish F-50 that crashed on approach to Sharjah, the wreckage was taken to the airport and dumped. 18 months later, there was no sign of it.

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Bravo1Six
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RE: Crashed Aircraft - What Happens To The Remains?

Tue Aug 26, 2008 1:33 pm

Starlionblue essentially has it right, although if the insurers have paid out on a claim then they are the ones who conduct the salvage (by hiring third parties to actually do so) and are entitled to keep whatever is realized from the sale of the salvaged bits. Once the insurer pays out, they become the owners of the asset.
 
SlamClick
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RE: Crashed Aircraft - What Happens To The Remains?

Tue Aug 26, 2008 3:52 pm

To add just a bit to what has been stated above, here are just a couple of my experiences with this.

Once officialdom and the owners and insurance companies have all had their use, the actual disposition may be a matter of convenience or economic feasibility. It is easy to think of an airliner as being made of aluminum but there are many other materials present and recycling is largely about separating materials for reprocessing. Structural damage and fire can interfere with this process and, in fact, the aluminum recovered may be very scant.

If the crash happened near a large city or airport every scrap that can be found will be removed for reasons having little to do with the value of the material. If it happens way out in the middle of nowhere a lot less effort will go into the removal. I know of at least one jet airliner that is almost complete, still at the scene of the crash. I know another that was buried at the scene. That is in the US. I know of one in the jungles of South America where the bodies were never even recovered. That crash wasn't found until years later and it remains "officially" never located. Unofficially the local military knows where it is. The Doug and Connie that collided over the Grand Canyon were left there until fairly recently when much of the wreckage was removed. There are still large bits in inaccessible places, the removal not seen as worth risking additional lives. Patsy Cline's airplane seems to have ended up in all the local barns and garages.

During the mid 1950s I don't know whether aluminum prices drove the effort or what, but many of the hundreds of military aircraft that had crashed on training flights around the western US were salvaged by a few individuals. This might not even have been legal as the US Navy "owns" its aircraft forever - at least until they agree to dispose of them. I remember seeing wreckage in the back of stakebed trucks several times when I was a kid.

As to the WTC aircraft, I'd bet that not more than a couple of tons of material remains that would be of any interest to officials. The rest went with the rubble of the buildings. I don't know what was done with any of that except that the structural steel of the buildings was recovered and put back into the supply chain. I have seen another airliner removed after it crashed and was utterly destroyed by post-crash fire. It was quietly announced that the remains would be "buried in a secret location" but I happened to see a couple of dump trucks taking the material up the road to the landfill. Yep! It went to the dump as soon as no one was looking.

Recycling an airplane can be almost as labor intensive as building one. As I mentioned, separating the materials is very important. Problem is, crashes don't separate the materials, they separate the whole into lumps with some of each. If the plane contains aluminum, fiberglas, steel, carbon fiber, titanium, bakelite, bronze, carpeting, depleted uranium (balance weights) insulated wiring, stainless steel cable, phenolic, magnesium, plexiglas and seat stuffing, it is clear that the reprocessing for each of these will be different.

The US Bureau of Mines, in one of its facilities, had a project to design a smelter that would accept a complete jet engine without disassembly and extract each of the metals off at various points in the process. That would have been a major advance in the field, but it was the victim of a budget cut before the full-scale model was built.

Some of them, like Steve Fossett's airplane are shipped off to other planets.
(That is just to get Blackbird involved in the discussion.  Smile)
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Euclid
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RE: Crashed Aircraft - What Happens To The Remains?

Tue Aug 26, 2008 4:47 pm

To add a bit to one of the things said in SlamClick's post, I recall reading somewhere that the salvaged remains of the SAA B747 Helderberg was crushed and then buried in a secret location, one story being that it was buried somewhere on the grounds of Johannesburg International airport.
 
soon7x7
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RE: Crashed Aircraft - What Happens To The Remains?

Tue Aug 26, 2008 6:04 pm

Should have opened this thread yesterday as I took a licking about some post crash events and the disposal of TWA 800 remains...I found out that some are hyper sensative about such topics, but these aspects are every bit as relevent, as much as safe flight.... Taxpayers spent millions on dredging up wreckage...which 1/4 of it was reassembled as we all know...the rest was disposed of secretely in a Long Island scrap yard. About four tons of the wreckage still lays on the bottom of the ocean. That crash was as complex as it gets (criminal investigation)...stayed around for a long time and in the end the wreckage was made to dissapear...with exception of the rebuild which now serves as a NTSB classroom training feature. Also on Long Island we had the crash of Avianca 707 up in cove neck. The issues with that event were pretty clear and the wreckage lay in a parking lot next to a train station for weeks before being hauled off and scraped.
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TWA 800 Recovery
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Avianca, Cove Neck
 
Viscount724
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RE: Crashed Aircraft - What Happens To The Remains?

Wed Aug 27, 2008 10:07 pm



Quoting Soon7x7 (Reply 6):
with exception of the rebuild which now serves as a NTSB classroom training feature.

There was a photo of it recently in Aviation Week.

 
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litz
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RE: Crashed Aircraft - What Happens To The Remains?

Tue Sep 02, 2008 4:47 pm

That is an interesting picture .... I believe all the other photos I've seen are from the other side ...

Is the green colored flat part middle-left of the picture the side/bottom of the wingbox itself, or the actual fuel tank? It's distended downwards, whatever it is ...

- litz
 
EMBQA
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RE: Crashed Aircraft - What Happens To The Remains?

Tue Sep 02, 2008 6:28 pm



Quoting Litz (Reply 8):
Is the green colored flat part middle-left of the picture the side/bottom of the wingbox itself, or the actual fuel tank?

Neither... it's just the fuselage skin. Areas that are covered over by fairings.. as in here...are just left in primer green.

Quoting CPH-R (Thread starter):
debunk the numerous conspiracy theories surrounding the tragedy of 9/11, especially those dealing with the aircraft

What is there to debunk...? Video proof of the two planes hitting the WTC... and pictures taken just minutes after the Pentagon show pieces of a AA 757 on the front lawn. In all cases very little remained due to the contained and intense post crash fires. Also, although a plane may be big.... cut up or crashed it takes up very little space.
"It's not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog"
 
soon7x7
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RE: Crashed Aircraft - What Happens To The Remains?

Tue Sep 02, 2008 7:26 pm



Quoting Litz (Reply 8):

Actually the NTSB only released three images to the public.They were low res and the view in the above response was the same view as the same display was also up against a well much like this shot, while it was in Calverton. Early in the investigation many other shots were recorded and have since vaporized...I never see them anywhere...

Yeh, the center fuel tank was obliterated...any structure that remained from the tank was hard to identify as tank structure. Most of the tank structure normally is bare aluminum coated with a transparent amber toned anodized finished. Any tank primer that was used was yellow,... any green is airframe primer.
 
tdscanuck
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RE: Crashed Aircraft - What Happens To The Remains?

Wed Sep 03, 2008 12:08 am



Quoting Litz (Reply 8):
Is the green colored flat part middle-left of the picture the side/bottom of the wingbox itself, or the actual fuel tank?

Part of it is primed fuselage skin, but you can see the center wing box (which is also the center fuel tank) as well. The structure and fuel tank are one and the same.

Quoting Soon7x7 (Reply 10):
Most of the tank structure normally is bare aluminum coated with a transparent amber toned anodized finished.

I've never seen tank structure with just alodine...always aluminum, then alodine, then fuel tank primer.

Tom.
 
SXDFC
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RE: Crashed Aircraft - What Happens To The Remains?

Wed Sep 03, 2008 1:27 am

Is the TWA 800 picture taken recently?
 
474218
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RE: Crashed Aircraft - What Happens To The Remains?

Wed Sep 03, 2008 3:50 am



Quoting Tdscanuck (Reply 11):
I've never seen tank structure with just alodine...always aluminum, then alodine, then fuel tank primer

The paint applied in the fuel tanks has to be applied to the detail parts prior to assembly, because it does not adhere to itself. Therefore, if there is any bare aluminum showing after a repair inside a fuel tank it has to be coated with sealant.

The Mil Spec for Corrosion Resistant Fuel Tank Paint is MIL-C-27725.
 
hangarrat
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RE: Crashed Aircraft - What Happens To The Remains?

Wed Sep 03, 2008 5:02 pm



Quoting SlamClick (Reply 4):
I know of at least one jet airliner that is almost complete, still at the scene of the crash. I know another that was buried at the scene. That is in the US.

Which would those be, just out of curiosity? Off the top of my head, I can't think of a jet crash in the US where the site was remote and the airframe remained largely intact.

Back around the time Fossett disappeared and the searchers were turning up all those previously undiscovered wrecks, I came across a publicly available USAF document on the Web listing known, un-recovered aircraft wrecks in all 50 states. I thought it might be a source for interesting hiking/photography expeditions. Surprisingly, there is an abundance of such sites here in the Northeast. Sadly, the Web site that hosted the document appears to have removed it.

http://www.acc.af.mil/afrcc/annualreports.asp

Does anyone know where to find it?

On a related note, about 10 years ago, I hiked to the site of a crash I read about while doing research at a newspaper where I was working. It was a twin Beech that crashed in a snow storm in 1979, IIRC, while carrying the New York Times to Pittsburgh.

The crash site was at the top of an unnamed ridge in a remote part of Bald Eagle State Forest in Snyder County, Pennsylvania. There was very little left at the scene. Just a stone cairn and some pieces of fuselage skin.
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soon7x7
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RE: Crashed Aircraft - What Happens To The Remains?

Wed Sep 03, 2008 8:08 pm



Quoting Tdscanuck (Reply 11):

I've seen the inside of two center wing tanks on 747's, 707, 727's and to some degree...no two were the same...MOST of what I saw was aluminum, annodized aluminum, yellow primed,...pretty much in that order. I presume some aluminum alloys don't require coatings due to the alloy process...just guessing here...j
 
tdscanuck
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RE: Crashed Aircraft - What Happens To The Remains?

Thu Sep 04, 2008 1:21 am



Quoting Soon7x7 (Reply 15):
I've seen the inside of two center wing tanks on 747's, 707, 727's and to some degree...no two were the same...MOST of what I saw was aluminum, annodized aluminum, yellow primed,...pretty much in that order.

Were these new aircraft or had they been in service for some time? The variety of coatings your describing sounds like accumulated maintenance to me. If you go to the factory and stick your head in the center box of a 737/747/767/777 it's all pretty uniform primed aluminum as far as I can see.

Quoting Soon7x7 (Reply 15):
I presume some aluminum alloys don't require coatings due to the alloy process...just guessing here...j

Some don't (especially clad), but there's no real reason not to since you vastly improve the durability of the structure for a pretty modest weight/cost hike.

Tom.
 
soon7x7
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RE: Crashed Aircraft - What Happens To The Remains?

Thu Sep 04, 2008 5:55 am



Quoting Tdscanuck (Reply 16):

These were extremely high time birds...Actually though, the condition of the tank interior/wiring, etc...was pristine, like the day it was manufactured...you also have to consider the oily type environment that kerosene maintains...it probably adds to the anti corrosive properties...I recently moved and do have photos from inside the tank...not sure I can find them...however I did one better...I brought back a section for my office...it looks new...was from TWA N93108/747.
 
474218
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RE: Crashed Aircraft - What Happens To The Remains?

Thu Sep 04, 2008 2:28 pm



Quoting Soon7x7 (Reply 17):
you also have to consider the oily type environment that kerosene maintains...

The problem is that water is heavier than kerosene!
 
andz
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RE: Crashed Aircraft - What Happens To The Remains?

Fri Sep 05, 2008 6:18 am



Quoting Soon7x7 (Reply 6):

It's amazing how close Avianca came to that building and it was totally unscathed. Obviously because of the cause of the crash there was no fire but even so it was a narrow escape.
After Monday and Tuesday even the calendar says WTF...
 
soon7x7
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RE: Crashed Aircraft - What Happens To The Remains?

Fri Sep 05, 2008 8:38 pm



Quoting 474218 (Reply 18):

Thats true...

Quoting Andz (Reply 19):

Three reasons why half passengers survived...No fuel/fire...pancaked onto hill that had about 35 degree slope...and a 45 MPH headwind during a storm and during the forced landing...That house belongs to John Mackenroes fathers house. You know, the Tennis Star...actually a fourth reason as well...plane took out large number of tall trees that helped in slowing her down...those that survived were very lucky.
 
alwaysontherun
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RE: Crashed Aircraft - What Happens To The Remains?

Thu Jan 14, 2010 10:32 pm

Just digging up an old story again............interesting topic, this.

Are there many ghost appearances at those crash sites? I think a lot of us know about the Chicago O´hare ghost stories after the AA191 DC-10 killed everybody in a field not far away.
Also there´s many stories about ghost appearances in Eastern Airlines L-1011;s aircraft after they salvaged some parts from the one that crashed in the Everglades and used them again in these particular aircraft.

Cheers.

### "I am always on the Run"###
"Failure is not an option, it comes standard in any Windows product" - an anonymous MAC owner.
 
lotsamiles
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RE: Crashed Aircraft - What Happens To The Remains?

Thu Jan 14, 2010 10:45 pm



Quoting CPH-R (Thread starter):
then usually have whatever working bits remain turned into spares, right?

There is really no market for spare parts coming from crashed aircraft. Once associated with a crash, the material is tainted and no legitimate buyer will go near it. I suppose the scrap metal value is all that the insurance company can collect.
 
aviopic
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RE: Crashed Aircraft - What Happens To The Remains?

Thu Jan 14, 2010 11:42 pm



Quoting Lotsamiles (Reply 22):
There is really no market for spare parts coming from crashed aircraft.

Have to disagree with that.
Flight simmers and Aviation stuff collectors pay big bugs for left over item's eventhough it is not legal.(or probably because it is not)

Quoting Lotsamiles (Reply 22):
Once associated with a crash, the material is tainted and no legitimate buyer will go near it.

It depends on the situation.
Many parts from incident involved A/C are re-used.

Item recovered from an incident or crash are marked as such.
The OEM will issue a dedicated inspection and Test procedure after which a part can be re-certified again without problem.
If a part does not qualify for re-certification it has to be "scrapped locally", the ID will be removed and stored together with all applicable documents(for 15 years like any other document) after which this part needs to be destroyed.
I love my job  Smile

ps. scrap metal of a +/- 100 seat A/C is worth between 15.000 and 20.000 $
The truth lives in one’s mind, it doesn’t really exist
 
soon7x7
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RE: Crashed Aircraft - What Happens To The Remains?

Fri Jan 15, 2010 4:56 am

Typically any parts involved in a crash are not recycled into the stytem unless it was an incident where an overun off a runway occured and most of the airframe was salvagable. In cases like the Avianca, TWA 800, AF447...all will stand for a long time as evidence and or training materials and eventually cut up. Ironically today I cut up some TWA 747 rudders for a rotable wharehouse that no longer needed the inventory...this and many other control surfaces have been stored outside and are now headed to the scrap yard....photo below is lower rudder segment of a TWA 747. After I removed the skins...just had this giant box that was incredibly light that was simple to pick up off the ground. The ribs and spar are super light stamped alloy ribs...this unit has some PCU and hinge forgings but these too were minimal in weight. The lower segment has no counterbalance weights...it was kind of fun and great learning in reverse, the guts of a 747...j
Big version: Width: 1024 Height: 683 File size: 256kb
Lower 747 rudder segment...
 
lotsamiles
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RE: Crashed Aircraft - What Happens To The Remains?

Fri Jan 15, 2010 5:47 pm



Quoting Aviopic (Reply 23):


Quoting Lotsamiles (Reply 22):
There is really no market for spare parts coming from crashed aircraft.

Have to disagree with that.
Flight simmers and Aviation stuff collectors pay big bugs for left over item's eventhough it is not legal.(or probably because it is not)

My idea of the market is airlines in the business of revenue service.



Quoting Aviopic (Reply 23):
Quoting Lotsamiles (Reply 22):
Once associated with a crash, the material is tainted and no legitimate buyer will go near it.

It depends on the situation.
Many parts from incident involved A/C are re-used.

Item recovered from an incident or crash are marked as such.
The OEM will issue a dedicated inspection and Test procedure after which a part can be re-certified again without problem.

Again to clarify, incident and accident are two different things. Material from incident aircraft may be re-used if properly inspected, tested and certified, however the severity of the incident will dictate the marketability of the material. If the incident subjected the parts to extreme stress, heat or environmental conditions then it is basically dead in the market. Accident related material is basically dead from the start, no airline buyer will touch it. Why take the risk when you can simply buy a new part or other surplus part without a bad history.

Perhaps the airline that already owns the material (suffering the incident/accident) may want to use the material after proper inspection and test, but again we are talking about insurance claim aircraft so the airline has already let go of it and cerainly will not want it back.
 
aviopic
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RE: Crashed Aircraft - What Happens To The Remains?

Fri Jan 15, 2010 9:07 pm



Quoting Lotsamiles (Reply 25):
incident and accident are two different things

Yes but the world ain't black and white.
There is a large grey area between incident and accident.

Quoting Lotsamiles (Reply 25):
If the incident subjected the parts to extreme stress, heat or environmental conditions then it is basically dead in the market

Nope, there are dedicated inspection procedures for all of them.
Whether they are applicable or not is a matter of the OEM's engineer based on the incident/accident report which includes the expected stress, heat and/or environmental conditions at the time of the incident/accident.

Quoting Lotsamiles (Reply 25):
Why take the risk when you can simply buy a new part or other surplus part without a bad history.

Because not all materials are in surplus available and if we are talking avionics for example very expensive.
Overhauled parts will enter the market as zero hour items.

Quoting Lotsamiles (Reply 25):
but again we are talking about insurance claim aircraft so the airline has already let go of it and cerainly will not want it back.

Yes and so the insurance company is going to make as much money back as they can.
The truth lives in one’s mind, it doesn’t really exist
 
lotsamiles
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RE: Crashed Aircraft - What Happens To The Remains?

Fri Jan 15, 2010 11:05 pm



Quoting Aviopic (Reply 26):
Whether they are applicable or not is a matter of the OEM's engineer based on the incident/accident report which includes the expected stress, heat and/or environmental conditions at the time of the incident/accident.

I think we are going down two different lines of thought. I note that you are an engineer working for an OEM. From your perspective you are likely thinking about the legal (airworthiness authority) and engineering apects of what can be done to such parts. In this way I agree with you, these parts may be made serviceable if certain processes are followed and criteria met.

My statements about "dead in the market" are coming from the perspective of being able to sell accident related material. I can tell you with confidence that reputable airlines, MRO's and certified suplus matieral distributors will not buy such material.

Even if a part is overhauled to zero time, if it has a removal tag coming from an accident aircraft then it will not be of interest to the above mentioned buyers.
 
Viscount724
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RE: Crashed Aircraft - What Happens To The Remains?

Sat Jan 16, 2010 12:54 am

As of two years ago the wreckage from Pan Am flight 103, the 747-100 blown up over Lockerbie, Scotland in December 1989, was still rusting away at a junkyard in England. Photo below from the following newspaper article.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...debris-rotting-away-scrapyard.html

http://img.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2007/10_04/flight103DM2810_800x524.jpg
 
alwaysontherun
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RE: Crashed Aircraft - What Happens To The Remains?

Sat Jan 16, 2010 3:22 pm



Quoting Viscount724 (Reply 28):
still rusting away at a junkyard in England

I wouldn´t mind a piece of that..........not out of disrespect for the deceased but for the aviation history it carries! They say it brings bad luck to keep crashed parts in your house but I wouldn´t mind a cockpit window or something like that.

### "I am always on the Run"###
"Failure is not an option, it comes standard in any Windows product" - an anonymous MAC owner.
 
soon7x7
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RE: Crashed Aircraft - What Happens To The Remains?

Mon Jan 18, 2010 2:00 pm



Quoting Alwaysontherun (Reply 29):

Me three...If I resided in the UK I'd be all over that stuff...Aviation History...Good or bad just rotting away?...even if they scrap it for the $$$ but soon the UK climate will reduce all that aluminum to a pile of white powder that will be useless, and will become a hazmat...j

The TWA800 wreckage vaporized...quickly, except some materials they used for NTSB training at a facility in Virginia.
 
NWADC9
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RE: Crashed Aircraft - What Happens To The Remains?

Mon Jan 18, 2010 2:18 pm



Quoting Lotsamiles (Reply 22):
There is really no market for spare parts coming from crashed aircraft. Once associated with a crash, the material is tainted and no legitimate buyer will go near it.

Tell that to Ozark. When N994Z hit a snow plow in Sioux Falls in '83 (OZ650), they used the wing of C-FTLU (AC797) to replace the damaged wing from the snow plow accident. Kept on truckin' 'til NW sent it to the desert a few years ago.
I get paid to convert dead dino juice into noise.

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