Aragon starts dismantling its first Airbus A380

Aircraft decommissioning and recycling is a multi-disciplinary process, with environmental, operational, safety, legal and economic aspects.

The number of aircraft retirements has been increasing steadily over the last decades. HELACS aims to develop and demonstrate a comprehensive dismantling methodology to enable the classification, recycling and reuse of large components of composite materials from aircraft that have reached the end of their useful life.


Tarmac Aragon has begun dismantling its 1st Airbus A380. Teruel Airport became well known during the pandemic, with Air France, British Airways, Etihad, and Lufthansa all sending the giant of the skies to storage at the site. According to the company, the first thing to be removed from the aircraft was one of its sets of protective breathing equipment. It is expected to take until March to recycle the jet completely.

The application of composite materials is consistent in new aircrafts. Regarding A380, 40 per cent of the aircraft’s structure and components is manufactured from the latest generation of carbon composites and advanced metallic materials, which, besides being lighter than traditional materials, offer significant advantages in terms of operational reliability, maintainability and ease of repair.

Latest News HELACS

  • For aircrafts that are no longer in service, the owner considers the trade-off between direct resale and disassemble & recycled. Besides that, HELACS project (Holistic processes for the cost-effective and sustainable management of End of Life of Aircraft Composite Structures) is focused on the study of the second one of these options.

  • AITIIP Technology Centre leads HELACS, a European project which aims to develop a dual methodology of controlled comprehensive dismantling in order to make possible the classification, recycling and reuse of aircraft parts made of thermoset and thermoplastic composites that have reached their end of life. Annually, the aeronautical industry is depositing more than 40,000 tons of end-of-life composite material waste in landfills. Thanks to the recovery of materials, the technology proposed by HELACS will benefit the change towards an energy efficiency model.

  • You can now download the official HELACS project brochure. A project comes to transform the dismantling process of the aircraft of the future. HELACS employs novel robotics to recycle composite materials of large components. The HELACS process is based on the application of high water pressure that will selectively chop the thermoset parts into a dimension suitable for recycling. In addition, the pyrolysis process is used for the carbonization of the thermoset matrix to reuse the carbon fibers that overcome this chemical decomposition.

This project has received funding from the Clean Sky 2 Joint Undertaking under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement Nº 101007871
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