Aviation Business News

All is not lost

Scott Butler, chief commercial officer, Ascent Aviation Services
photo_camera Scott Butler, chief commercial officer, Ascent Aviation Services

Ascent’s Scott Butler sees the end-of-life market transitioning to a full-value lifecycle.

Ascent Aviation Services (Ascent) is a Class IV 14 CFR Part 145 certified repair station specialising in every aspect of aircraft maintenance for the service life of fleets. We maintain narrow and widebody, small to large, regional to long-haul aircraft, and one of the largest storage and reclamation operations in the world.

We have always been at the forefront of green initiatives in the aviation market. Being an MRO, and a retirement hub for part-out aircraft, Ascent is responsible for the reclamation services, and eventual disposal, of dozens of commercial aircraft each year.

As longtime accredited members of the Aircraft Fleet Recycling Association (AFRA), we have seen the growth in ESG awareness and best practices from our customer base. In the beginning, aircraft retirement and disassembly was rarely discussed and kept out-of-sight in the deserts of Southwest US. However, this awareness has begun to evolve over the years due, in part, to the growth in the Used Serviceable Material (USM).

The rise of USM has begun to give new life to recovering components and ‘lost’ value from retired airframes. Inspecting, overhauling and refurbishing these components enables them to maintain usable life past the retirement date of the airframe itself. The rise of these new markets brought new scrutiny and demand for standardisation in the disassembly and disposal of airframes. Along with green revolutions in other industries, AFRA’s Best Management Practices has increased awareness and improved the sustainability of end-of-life aircraft management.

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Ascent is responsible for the reclamation and eventual disposal of dozens of
commercial aircraft each year
Ascent is responsible for the reclamation and eventual disposal of dozens of commercial aircraft each year. Credit: Annette Feasel/Ascent Aviation Services

Ascent has long maintained a quality-centric approach to the disassembly process and uses this MRO mentality from when the aircraft lands to the final hull disposal. Each component removed goes through a thorough inspection and handling process before being sent to our own Part 145-approved back shops or being shipped to our customers. The aircraft systems go through a thorough hazmat disposal process to remove all hazardous materials like the draining of hydraulic fluids and the separation of metals and other hazardous materials used in the manufacturing process.

Our worldwide customer base is now often requiring ESG processes flown down from their own initiatives, even in normal maintenance and handling procedures.

While Ascent maintains this new, quality-centric approach to aircraft disposal, the OEM manufacturers continue to increase the use of electric systems and composite materials which will provide new challenges in the future to manage a useful life.

Ascent views the end-of-life market growing from the niche component world to a full-value lifecycle which is getting more and more scrutiny from all levels of manufacturer, government and other investment funds. Increasing the visibility of this lifecycle will only lead to greater shared responsibility for its sustainability.

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

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