‘Most notable aircraft boneyard’ is where planes go to die and then be recycled

  • A French airport near the French Pyrenees is the site of the ‘most notable aircraft boneyard’
  • Planes come here at the end of their lives to be broken down and recycled
  • Alternatively, they can also be stored here when they’re out of service

Published on Jun 05, 2024 at 6:47 PM (UTC+4)
by Amelia Jean Hershman-Jones

Last updated on Jun 05, 2024 at 9:18 PM (UTC+4)
Edited by Tom Wood

This French airport near the French Pyrenees is the site of the ‘most notable aircraft boneyard’ where planes at the end of their lives come to be resurrected and recycled.

Tarbes–Lourdes–Pyrénées Airport is considered one of the most significant aircraft recycling and maintenance sites in the whole of Europe.

Aircraft come to the boneyard at the end of their lives to be broken into parts in hopes of being recycled and reused.

READ MORE! Airbus A380 versus Boeing 747: we put the giants of the sky head to head

The locations

It’s from this site that Tarbes Advanced Recycling & Maintenance Aircraft Company (TARMAC) Aerosave operates as one of Europe’s main aircraft recycling companies.

TARMAC Aerosave is jointly owned by Airbus, Safran, and Suez in a venture that was announced during the 2007 International Paris Air Show

Per Safran: “TARMAC Aerosave is the first totally eco-friendly company to dismantle aircraft at end-of-life since it recycles a large percentage of the constituent parts and materials.”

And Tarbes–Lourdes–Pyrénées Airport in France is its flagship base with other airports including Francazal Airport and Teruel Airport in France and Spain, respectively.

During the pandemic, the dry climate of Teruel Airport made it the perfect place to store out-of-action aircraft with over 100 parked up.

The three TARMAC sites can host 280 aircraft and 120 engines in total.

By 2020, it had welcomed its 1000th aircraft and is the number one site in Europe for Aircraft Storage and it’s also top for Aircraft & Engine Green Recycling globally.

TARMAC Aerosave

Aircraft recycling

TARMAC Aerosave states that it recycles and disposes of aircraft in ‘the most environmentally friendly process’.

By doing this it’s able to meet the strict European environmental regulations, boasting its credentials as a worldwide leader in green aircraft recycling.

TARMAC Aerosave claims to have recycled over 300 aircraft since 2007.

That’s 75% of the Airbus A340s recycled worldwide.

TARMAC claims to recycle 92% of the aircraft’s total weight.

And, when it comes to engines, the company can give a new lease of life to CFM56-3/-5A/-5B/-5C/7B.

“Since the inception of TARMAC Aerosave, Sustainability is the DNA of our company,” TARMAC Aerosave, said.

“This is why we provide today the most environment-friendly process to recycle aircraft & engines. Our operations meet strict European environmental regulations.”

In April of last year, Airbus, TARMAC Aerosave, and the Chinese City of Chengdu announced their hopes of establishing a joint venture for aircraft ‘lifecycle’ services in the heart of China.

The facility will be a holistic aircraft service for up to 125 aircraft: allowing planes to park, be stored, receive maintenance, upgrades, and conversions, and for a range of aircraft to be recycled.

Aircraft storage

Sometimes, like during the pandemic, airlines want to store grounded aircraft at the boneyard temporarily without scrapping them.

While the best places to store aircraft are in desert climates, like the Mojave desert, the climate in European countries like France and Spain is also suitable.

Like this abandoned airport and aircraft graveyard in Cyprus.

TARMAC Aerosave states that it has parking space for over 280 aircraft from regional aircraft to massive Airbus A380s – and 120 engines.

“TARMAC Aerosave stores all aircraft on its sites using the necessary control measures and appropriate surfaces to avoid any ground pollution or aircraft damages,” TARMAC Aerosave promises.

As well as following manufacturer’s guidelines for handling aircraft while in storage, TARMAC Aerosave provides line and base maintenance for Airbus aircraft (including A320NEO, A350, and A380), Boeing airliners (including B-787s), and ATR 72 & 72s.

# Tags - Airplanes, Planes


Amelia Jean Hershman-Jones

London-based Amelia cut her journalistic teeth covering all things lifestyle, wellness and luxury in the UK capital. Fast-forward a decade and the experienced content creator and editor has put pen to paper for glossy magazines, busy newsrooms and coveted brands. When her OOO is on you can find her spending quality time with her young family, in the gym or exploring the city she loves.