Editorial Feature

Creating Buildings and Homes Out of Old Airplanes

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What do you do with a passenger plane that is too old, or no longer considered safe enough to carry holidaymakers, but is too sturdy and durable to completely demolish?

According to the Aircraft Fleet Recycling Association (AFRA), there were an estimated 12,000 aircraft set to be decommissioned between 2013 and 2020, either because they are destined for retirement due to their age, or because of cuts to the airline’s fleet. AFRA predicts there are a further 2,000 to 3,000 planes abandoned around the world, mostly in developing countries.

Salvaging Decommissioned Aircraft

As the aircraft reach the end of their flyable lives, their owners must find alternative uses for their retirees. Stripping the aircraft is a great way to recycle many of its commodities; engine parts can be removed and reused in other aircraft, while furniture, tiling and even boats have been made from discarded parts of the plane.

But what happens to the shell of the plane? Many people have chosen to create their homes from decommissioned aircraft bought from the scrapyard. Interestingly, planes typically cover a similar area to a normal house, it is just shaped very differently! Once purchased, the aircraft will be transported to its final destination – with the wings removed – ready for renovation.

The plane is often completely stripped bare before lighting, heating, air conditioning and plumbing can be installed. The cockpit and the rear of the plane are frequently turned into a bedroom or bathroom, with a further bedroom and kitchen and living room in the middle. The cargo hold, originally used to carry passengers’ luggage remains a useful storage space and, if retained, the wings can form the basis of decking.

Recycled Aircraft Homes

The cost of purchasing and renovating a plane for habitation is quite often less than buying a modern suburban home – around $35,000 to $50,000 – which includes the purchase of the land, plane, transportation and renovation. This could make such recycled aircraft homes attractive to first-time buyers who might be able to afford such a property with little to no mortgage.

These homes also require much less maintenance. Planes can make incredibly energy-efficient dwellings; the aircraft is designed to fly at high altitudes and are therefore well insulated. This means it is also inexpensive to heat and cool.

Several people have converted old planes into homes:

  • Architect David Hertz has created the 747 Wing House by renovating a property with parts from an old Boeing 747; the wings and tail stabilizers have formed the basis for long-span roof structures, while other parts of the plane will become new pavilions and sculptures around the site.
  • Bruce Campbell, an Oregon resident, completely gutted a Boeing 727-200 with a view to building a home.
  • As part of Project Freedom, Joe Axline has transformed two old planes named Spirit and Freedom into his domicile on a piece of land at an airport in Texas.

But planes once destined for the scrapheap have not just been turned into new homes – it seems travelers quite like the idea of staying in them too, so they are being redeveloped into hotels.

The two-bedroomed 727 Fuselage Home at the Costa Verde in the Costa Rican rainforest is a vintage 1965 Boeing 727 which was salvaged from San Jose airport. It now sits atop a 50-foot pedestal which makes it look as though it is emerging from the jungle ready to fly, and boasts ocean and jungle views.

Stockholm’s Arlanda Airport is home to JumboStay, a budget hostel built into a decommissioned 1976 Boeing 747. Opened in January 2009, it features 33 rooms and its owner says it is built like any house with the same demands on climate control and heating.

Conclusion

Salvaging decommissioned aircraft destined for the scrapheap and renovating it into a home or hotel is not only a sensible solution in terms of reuse and recycling, it is a means of providing an affordable and energy-efficient home for those looking to get on the property ladder or those who want to brag they have a cool and unusual home!

Sources and Further Reading

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the author expressed in their private capacity and do not necessarily represent the views of AZoM.com Limited T/A AZoNetwork the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and conditions of use of this website.

Kerry Taylor-Smith

Written by

Kerry Taylor-Smith

Kerry has been a freelance writer, editor, and proofreader since 2016, specializing in science and health-related subjects. She has a degree in Natural Sciences at the University of Bath and is based in the UK.

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