Emirates operates one of the world’s largest wide-body fleets, comprising of 115 Airbus A380 and 155 Boeing B777 aircraft. So what to with such a huge number of planes during times of crisis and worldwide flight restrictions?
Of their 270 aircraft, Emirates had initially parked and wrapped up 218 aircraft – 117 at Dubai World Central and 101 at Dubai International airport – this measure involved more than 15,500 man-hours.
By the end of April, around 75 aircraft of the airline, both passenger and freighter, flew across the planet carrying people on repatriation and urgent cargo. These planes continue to be maintained as per standard procedures. Some are undergoing scheduled heavy maintenance in Emirates Engineering’s hangars.
Securing the fleet and its sensitive avionics systems
Routinely, all aircraft are covered with protective equipment that are taken out of operations for more than 48 hours.
All apertures and openings through which environmental factors – sand, dirt, water, birds and insects – can find their way inside an aircraft are wrapped up and made watertight. That includes engines and air data probes – such as pitot, static, temperature, angle of attack sensors – engine intakes and exhausts, and APU intakes and exhausts.
The interiors – whether cabin monuments, seats or inflight entertainment equipment – are also protected from the elements. Potable water systems and aircraft fuel tanks are preserved, and engine and APU systems are protected. The process also involves the greasing, cleaning and preservation of landing gear and flight control systems. The team turns off all cockpit switches, disconnects batteries, and installs control lever locks and window blinds.
“While a narrow-body aircraft only requires around 3-4 employees working for eight hours or so to cover it, our aircraft need 4-6 employees working a 12-hour shift. And taking extra precautions while maintaining social distancing adds its own interesting twist to the proceedings.”
Ahmed Safa, Emirates’ Divisional Senior Vice President Engineering
Periodic Routine checks
After concluding the protection and preservation works, the team completes periodic checks at 7-, 15- and 30-day intervals across the fleet. These can include simple walk-around inspections to ensure all covers are in place, and there are no visible damages or external leaks. Complex checks include removing the covers and reactivating aircraft systems, idling engines and testing engine bleed air and flight control systems.
How to reactivate the fleet?
Ahmed Safa said: “We need around 4-5 dedicated employees and at least 18-24 hours to put one of our aircraft back into service. Our customers and our employees can’t wait to see our majestic A380s and our powerful 777s grace the skies again, operating our normal schedules and delighting travellers worldwide.”
Photo Credit: Emirates