11 May 2014

Upcycling an Entire Plane

Kevin McCloud  a British Designer, Writer and Television Presenter, best known in the UK for his Architectural program Grand Design.  In "Kevin's Supersized Salvage", McCloud teams up with 3 designers that specialise in upcycling (Taking waste material and giving it a different purpose like making a plane's wing drive shaft into an egg cup holder), to see if they can utilise all the parts of an Airbus A320 airplane and make them into something useful that people will be willing to buy.  The second part of the challenge involves @Kevin_McCloud beating the plane's scrap value by selling of all the items, whilst not sending anything to landfill.  There is so more to say so we will add the information in the article below the images.

If you like this article have a look at our other Sustainable articles.

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325 planes are discarded every year.  The one that was chosen (picture above) for this program was retired after 22 years of service and had flown 18 million miles.  The plane is made up of 30 tonnes of metal (Aluminium, Titanium and Steel) 5 tonnes of plastic and composites 50 miles of wiring ...   A New plane will cost £55 million ($93 million) and the scrap value is £25,000 ($42,000)  The plane was donated by the owner and in return any profits will go to a cancer charity for children, the NCCA .  Above you can see some of the discarded airplanes and the A320 Airbus brought to the workshop to be worked on.

This is a video introduction to the program.  At the end it gives you a link to the site but I am afraid that if you are outside the UK you might not be able to see the program, so we will try and summarise it as well as we can, so you can get a good feel for what was accomplished.

The first components from the airplane that were dealt with, were things that could be reused on other working planes as spares, like cockpit instruments, the engines, landing gear, cabin doors, nose cone, rudders and wing flaps.  This still leaves a massive amounts of parts that need to be re-purposed.

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The Bird boxes.  They are a weatherproof bird house made from the intricate and unusually shaped fresh air ducting from the Airbus A320.  The back can be opened to clean the box between the nesting seasons.

All sorts of things have been constructed with the various parts of the plane that include.  Bird Boxes, Magazine Racks, Hooks, Chairs, Dog Beds, Storage, Toast Racks, Egg Cups, Office Pods, Desk Lamps, Rocking Chairs, Luggage, Jewellery (some made of gold derived from the electrical system), Rickshaws and many more items.

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Garden Office.  Above Part of the fuselage was used to construct a bespoke Garden Office that includes chairs and other objects from the plane.  It looks like it just needs some finishing touches on the outside but the inside looks very comfortable.

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Insulation.  With 50Kg of insulation left in the airplane  McCloud paid £150 ($) to the project, to insulate the whole of his workshop.  As you can see from the image the insulation Sheet is quite thin and at first glance might not look worth it, but this is the insulation that covers the entire fuselage of the airplane, it is 20 times more effective than normal household insulation and as a society we throw it away, it normally just gets dumped in a landfill.

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Lamps.  Made from the seating on the plane if you look at the profile of the chair below you can see it.  The head of the lamp made from the folded seat-pan.

The plastic panels on the inside of the plane were made into plastic filaments and used for 3D printing plastic.  The plastic is first shredded with an office shredder, then the smaller shavings are loaded into an extruding machine, that produces a plastic filament that can be used for a 3D printer.

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Leftovers.  So Far, they have taken £27,000 ($46,000) with another £17,000 ($29,000) to come.  They have already surpassed the scrap value of £25,000 ($42,000).  As you can see from the photo this is all that is left,   McCloud is determined to find a use for it, and only then will he be able to say that the entire plane was upcycled with a small proportion recycled.

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Dog Bed.  Medium size.  Utilising the seating materials from the chairs in the Airbus A320.

The three Designers are:

Paul Firbank – Salvage Designer.

Max McMurdo – Upcycling Entrepreneur.

Harry Dwyer – Designer, video maker, electronics engineer.

More pictures below.

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Life Jacket Bags.  The last one on the the bottom right is usually used, on planes, to carry seatbelts for infants.

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Backpack.  Made from the seating material and the safety belts.

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Breakfast Set.  Sturdy Egg Cup made from a wing drive shaft. Toast Racks made from the cargo bay door hinge.

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Storage Cabinet.  The aircraft galley cabinet, perfect for a very distinctive piece of furniture.

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Floor Standing Lamp.  The head is made from two sinks welded together.

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Seating.  Three examples of armchairs, two made from the seats of the plane and the third one (bottom left hand corner) from the wing section of the plane.

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Rocking Chair.  They married the chair to a section of the ribs from the fuselage.  One chair left.

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Sofa.  Made from the wing sections, the foot rest is mechanically operated, when the button is pressed, it moves from below, into position.

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The clocks.  They are made using the windows of the airplane.

Coat Hooks.  3 hooks derived from the aluminium, situated on the arm rest of the seats.

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Church Pagoda.  Made from two sections of the fuselage.

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Dome Pagoda.  A unique structure made from seven segments of the Airbus aluminium fuselage. A large removable seat, made from the aircraft seatbelt, fits inside.

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Rickshaw.  Made from parts of the fuselage and seats from the Airbus A320.

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Toy-box Bench.  The overhead compartment in the Airbus A320 is really sturdy and can be used as a toy-box and a bench / seat for children.

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Magazine Rack.  Made from two airline tray tables.

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Rabbit Hutch.  Made from scraps from the plane.

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