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Continual coming and going

Read in: Deutsch

Even in the current challenging times, the modernisation of our A320 fleet, which started in 2020, is proceeding according to plan in order to achieve, among other things, our ambitious climate protection goals. In concrete terms, this means that older aircraft are being phased out and replaced with more modern and fuel-efficient aircraft, enabling us to sustainably reduce our environmental impact.

In this context, our 26-year-old A320 HB-IJE left us recently and is being replaced by a brand-new A320neo.This phase-out was preceded by months of preparations and sometimes challenging negotiations.

Between 2021 and 2026, we will be replacing a total of 14 A320s and 7 A321s. Of these 21 aircraft, 7 are leased. The remaining 14 belong to us. But before an aircraft can take off on its final flight, countless documents have to be compiled and checked. The volume is gigantic – in the case of an A320, this amounts to almost 7,000 documents that have to be checked together with the leasing company (lessor) and accepted by them. This process usually takes about 3 months. Depending on the willingness to cooperate and the requirements of the lessor or the future owner, this intensive preparation period can take a lot longer than planned. It will be somewhat easier when we sell aircraft that we own in the coming year.

All logos must be gone
But also on the aircraft itself there are various tasks to be done in advance to prepare it for the transfer flight. The aircraft has to be “neutralised”, i.e. all SWISS logos on the outside as well as on the inside have to be painted over or removed. In addition, customs formalities have to be provided and all overflight formalities have to be clarified.

Removing the Logo
The end of a 26-year tour of duty for Swissair/SWISS. In Roswell, the registry is removed from the aircraft.

Engines of major interest
During the preparation time on the ground, numerous work packages are put together, which in turn are implemented by our colleagues from Maintenance in Zurich. The lessor is also invited to see the condition of the aircraft and the work steps on site. The main focus is on the engines, as these account for the largest proportion of the aircraft’s residual value (over 80%).

Upload of US map material
The next task was to assemble a crew consisting of pilots and an aircraft engineer who met the labor requirements of the U.S. authorities, since the destination was in the United States. For the flight, the navigation information for the USA also had to be fed into the database, since our A320s usually only have data loaded for flights in Europe.

ZRH-KEF-BOS-ROW, one-way
Beginning of November, the time had come. Via one stopover each in Keflavik (Iceland) and Boston (USA), HB-IJE with serial number 0559 made its way to its new owner in Roswell (New Mexico, USA), a small airport located about 800 kilometers west of Dallas (Texas, USA). The aircraft engineer took care of the technical tasks on the aircraft during the overflight and the two stopovers, and after arrival at the destination carried out final work on the aircraft before it finally went to its new owner. The necessary tools and spare parts were carried in the belly. 

Our Relief Engineer Benny was responsible for the technical support of the aircraft during the ferry flight. The Icelandic weather apparently had no influence on his positive mood.
Approaching Boston.
In Boston, the aircraft was refueled and customs cleared while the crew took a break.

Thank you dear HB-IJE for the wonderful time with you, you were always reliable.

Definitely an unforgettable experience for our flight crew René, Monika and Patrick.