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Inside Brussels Airlines: How Airlines Prepare Fleet For Hibernation


Due to the ongoing global coronavirus crisis, all airlines across the world have either reduced capacity or completely suspended flight operations. Brussels Airlines is one of such.

In this pictorial article, we take a look at what it takes for an airline to prepare their aircraft for long-term packing. We shall call it hibernation.

Brussels Airlines has temporarily suspended all scheduled flights. Except for a few aircraft that are on standby to bring stranded Belgians home, the airline’s entire fleet is parked and stored at Brussels Airport.

If you think that parking an aircraft for a long term is a simple task, just like parking a car, or hanging your boots after a football training session, you should guess again.

Storing an Airbus A330 takes about 400 man hours, as the Maintenance & Engineering teams meticulously follow Airbus manufacturer instructions to make sure that our birds are stored safely.

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 seats are covered as well, to keep them crisp and clean.

One might think that after parking and locking an aircraft, there’s nothing left to do, but just wait until it can take off again. But in reality, airlines’ Maintenance & Engineering teams including those of Brussels Airlines, 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 the fleet is ready to welcome guests on board once the airline is able to take off again.

All this has created 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.

Video clips of the parking and storage process can be watched or downloaded here.

All pictures used in this report were provided by Brussels Airlines.

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