Inside the Desert Boneyards

mro special

It sounds like the title of one of those appalling, straight-to-video horror films: what really goes on in the desert boneyards? Well, it’s still a question I have been asking for months now. COVID has caused airlines to send their biggest aircraft (747s, 787s, A380s and 777s) to be stored in these desert facilities. Yet we know very little about what goes on there because those running these areas rarely, if ever, grant interviews. Why? Well, if I were to hazard a guess, I would say aviation is quite rightly obsessed with safety, and pictures of taped up or broken-down aircraft don’t look good, no matter the reality. It’s why the first thing they remove from the livery is the airline’s logo.

And woe betide if you call these places boneyards! “We are not a boneyard, we are a storage facility!” is about the only quote I have actually got on the record. The truth is that all of these facilities will carry out two functions: one is maintenance, and the other is what they term ‘end of life services’. Both of which are hugely lucrative in different ways. But enough of my rambling, I try to get to the bottom of it all in our cover feature.

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