Inside Brussels Airlines: how an airline prepares its fleet for hibernation

As a consequence of the coronavirus crisis Brussels Airlines, like so many other airlines, had to temporarily suspend all of its flights. Except for a few aircraft that are on standby to bring stranded citizens home, the entire fleet of the Belgian airline is parked and stored at Brussels Airport.

If you think parking an airplane is a simple task, just like parking a car, you should guess again. Storing an Airbus A330 takes about 400 man hours, as the Maintenance & Engineering teams at Brussels Airlines meticulously follow Airbus manufacturer instructions to make sure that the airplanes are stored safely. This means that all windows are taped to prevent sunlight from decolouring the interior, landing gears and engines are thoroughly packed so that birds cannot nest in them and to prevent corrosion. All the seats are covered as well, to keep them crisp and clean.

Storing an Airbus A330 takes about 400 man hours

One might think that after parking and locking an aircraft, there’s nothing left to do but wait until it can take off again. But in reality, the Brussels Airlines Maintenance & Engineering teams are kept quite busy in order to keep the fleet in tip-top shape. Every day, for example, the wheels have to be turned just slightly, to make sure they don’t get worn out under the weight of the aircraft and every week, inspections and tests need to be performed. 30 Maintenance & Engineering colleagues still work full-time to perform all these tasks. They make sure that Brussels Airlines’ fleet is ready to welcome guests on board once the company is able to take off again.

All this creates an unusual, but spectacular sight at Brussels Airport. As an airport is not made to park so many aircraft at the same time, a taxiway even had to be cleared.

Pictures: Brussels Airlines

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