What Does It Take to Put Parked Airplanes Back in Service?

Aircraft are designed to be in continuous use. For example, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner I fly will spend 70 percent of its time in the air. So removing a plane from service is unusual – and it takes a lot of work.

Procedures for storing an airplane vary according to length of stay – kind of like short–term and long–term parking. But it’s not like locking your car and walking away: The Air Canada maintenance team leaps into action to cover engines, disconnect batteries and protect instrument probes with conspicuous red “Remove Before Flight” covers. Landing gear pins and wheel chocks are installed for extra safety.

July 1, 2020
An illustration of parked Air Canada airplanes with one back in service

For an aircraft parked short–term, scheduled maintenance continues with seven–, 14– and 21–day checks to start the engines and circulate the hydraulics. Aircraft are even rolled to prevent tire wear.

Many aircraft all around the world are once again being cleared for takeoff. Reactivating a plane from short–term parking takes up to seven days. Mechanics remove all coverings, purify and fill the water systems, check the fuel tanks and lines, finish and test all systems. If an aircraft has been parked long–term, seven technicians perform four days of tests before giving the thumbs–up.

Then there is just one key thing left to add: You.

Portrait of Air Canada's Captain Doug Morris
Photo: Reynard Li

Doug Morris is an author, meteorologist, instructor and Air Canada captain on the Boeing 787.