DURHAM Tees Valley Airport could become a centre for the storage, maintenance and decommissioning of aircraft thanks to plans revealed today.

Sycamore Aviation, led by former pilot Kevin O’Hare, has set up its base at the airport and has already begun work on dismantling a number of airliners, using state-of-the art methods to deal with the growing demand for recycling facilities.

The development has been warmly welcomed by the airport which is actively seeking to attract businesses related to the air industry.

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The company has taken over a 45,000 sq ft hangar at the airport where a team of experienced aircraft engineers are able to decommission aircraft and recover many high value spares which are wanted by clients across the world.

Mr O'Hare,said: “Having worked as pilot for many years, much of it flying out of the North East, including Durham Tees Valley, I have been working on setting up the company for a number of years because of the huge numbers of  aircraft which are retiring across Europe—and the fact that there is an urgent need to develop facilities which can ensure they can be decommissioned in the most efficient and environmentally friendly way, recycling as much as possible.

“I looked at virtually every airport and airfield across the country when developing my plans and came to the conclusion that Durham Tees Valley offered the best potential, including its ability to handle any kind of aircraft and the hangar space required.

“We have worked very closely with the airport and the statutory agencies in setting up the operation which we believe can be real winner for ourselves and the airport.

“To illustrate the scale of the demand, one major carrier alone is likely to need to dispose of 20 jumbo jets and 20 Boeing 737 aircraft in the next three to four years…and in the case of another they are expected to dispose of over a hundred aircraft. It’s been estimated that across Europe between 500 to 700 aircraft a year need to be decommissioned and currently there are just not enough facilities to meet the demand.

“Aircraft are expensive pieces of equipment and the value of recycled and recertificated spares can run into literally millions of pounds. We can recover around a thousand different parts from an aircraft and the history of them can be traced back to the day they were first fitted.

“In addition we are working with local universities on the potential for developing new ‘green’ methods for recycling items such as interior fittings.

“Our target for our first year is to handle an average of one aircraft a month and we also hope to offer maintenance and storage facilities because very often companies owning aircraft, rather than decommissioning them immediately, may want to keep them in operating condition whilst they seek to lease them.”