47,000 Take-offs and Landings: An Old Lady’s Last Journey

Over seven million passengers carried, 47,000 takeoffs and landings performed and more than 73,000 hours in traffic: those were the impressive statistics of Airbus A321 HB-IOC, which spent more than 27 years serving the customers of SWISS and of Swissair before it. But what happens to a SWISS aircraft when it reaches the end of its working life?

After more than 27 years of service with Swissair and SWISS, Airbus A321 HB-IOC, the oldest member of the SWISS fleet, has made its final flight. The aircraft, which was widely known as the ‘Olympic Plane’ in view of its IOC (International Olympic Committee) registration, was flown to Castellón in Spain, where it was subsequently dismantled. As part of this phase-out process, SWISS has also been trialling a pilot project to see how various parts and components can be re-used and recycled more sustainably in ecological and economic terms. So aviation fans and design enthusiasts can look forward to some very special souvenirs.

Airbus A321 HB-IOC, the oldest aircraft in the Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) fleet, has made its final flight. The twinjet, which bore the name ‘St. Moritz’ in its SWISS days, spent more than 27 years in the service of Swissair and SWISS, carrying over seven million passengers, performing some 47,000 takeoffs and landings and spending over 73,000 hours in revenue-earning service. The iconic aircraft was flown to Castellón in Spain a few months ago, where it was cannibalized and dismantled.

SWISS has been using the phase-out of HB-IOC as a pilot project to determine how it can re-use and recycle a withdrawn aircraft’s various parts in an even more sustainable way, in ecological and economic terms. Switzerland’s biggest airline will be using many of HB-IOC’s components as spares for the remaining active members of its Airbus A320 family fleet. Parts of the cabin interior will also have a further lease of life elsewhere in the Lufthansa Group – to upgrade its cabin simulators, for instance. And as part of SWISS’s integrated life cycle management, specialists from the company will be recycling further items that cannot be re-used to recover various materials, with a particular focus on aluminium and other high-value alloys. Aviation fans and design enthusiasts can also look forward to designer furniture items and other accessories from this autumn onwards, all made from parts of the legendary HB-IOC.

The ‘Olympic Plane’

The aircraft, built in 1995 and originally named “Neuchâtel” and later “Lausanne”, was fondly referred to by many employees as the “Old Lady”. Due to its HB-IOC registration, the Airbus was also referred to as the “Olympic Airplane” in reference to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and even wore special Olympic livery for a few years. SWISS has produced a memorable short film of Airbus A321 HB-IOC’s final flight and phase-out.

Images: © SWISS

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