A secondary first approach for aviation

Lee McConnellogue
photo_camera Lee McConnellogue, chief executive, ecube

AFRA board director and ecube’s chief executive Lee McConnellogue aims to raise the profile of EOL services

At ecube, we are proud to be the only aircraft disassembly provider globally with base locations in the UK, EU and US, covering around 90 per cent of the total global market. We believe in a secondary first approach when it comes to the reuse of components and, alongside our lessor, airline and parts trading customers, support an environment for this circular economy to thrive with the ecube marketplace.

With aircraft disassembly numbers in the industry having peaked in 2019, we are anticipating 2023 will see us handle the largest number of aircraft across three locations in our history. A big contributor to this has been the opening of our US facility in Coolidge Municipal Airport, Arizona in October 2022, with our first project starting in February 2023.

This has opened a previously untapped market for us, and our global customers can now experience in the US the same efficiencies and circular approach to projects they rely on in the UK and EU.

With that said, it is not just in the US where we see the influx coming; to handle the forecasted increase within the European continent we have expanded our wider services range, most recently receiving UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) approval to offer aircraft line maintenance services from our St Athan HQ for the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 families and Boeing 757, 767 and 777.

All our sites offer diamond level Aircraft Fleet Recycling Association (AFRA) accredited disassembly services, and we see this as essential criteria for our customers when determining a provider for aircraft disassembly.

Boeing’s recent pledge to work exclusively with organisations accredited by AFRA supports this, ensuring airplanes in the Boeing-owned fleet are dismantled and recycled in an environmentally responsible manner when they reach end-of-life.

Dealing with the secondary first approach is what we do

Having already delivered more than 17,000 components back into the aviation supply chain this year, and anticipating more than 50,000 components by year end, we focus on maximising value of all material and will continue to offer value opportunities to stop material from being wasted.

Most core parts go back into the supply chain, advancing the circular economy, and we try to find a second use for the remaining, repurposing material for a piece of bespoke furniture, for instance. That’s when we partner with responsible recyclers globally. Last year, we disposed of 1,200 tonnes, but without that repurposed step-in, it could have been significantly more.

However, there is a significant gap as circularity needs to be recognised in the 2050 net-zero pledges laid down by IATA, the governing body of aerospace.

IATA is focused on the inflow of new equipment and how its operated. There has been no end-of-life conversation. We need to play a part in that dialogue. The current focus is on sustainable aviation fuel, more efficient engines, aircraft routing and carbon capture initiatives. That is admirable, but there remains a gap as we are not talking about EOL. We aim to raise the profile of EOL services’ contribution to this goal by shining the spotlight on the secondary first approach to sustainability and circularity.

This feature was first published in MRO Management – July 2023. To read the magazine in full, click here.

All ecube sites offer diamond level AFRA accredited disassembly services

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