When the 787 first went in to trial production, Boeing built some 22 aircraft – some of them actually intended for customers – but it was soon found they were overweight, and couldn’t meet the specification laid out in the sales contracts.
The first few were also test aircraft, and while most have subsequently been sold off at huge discounts, or turned into display/museum features, having sat about for years at various sites, Boeing couldn’t shift No.5.
The solution was to use it as a test bed for how to break up a mostly carbon-composite aircraft. The simplistic smash it to scrap routine used on so many 747’s and others over the decades, isn’t a viable option.
Removing modular avionics and items of value is one thing, and in many respects, wiring and valuable metals are easier to recover, but how and what do you do with big slices of carbon fibre woven and wound drum sections?
The answer appears to be chop it into slices. Apparently much of the carbon fibre is being used as commemorative items but in future, a German company is working on how to recycle the parts into electronic and car industry use. Eventually these aircraft will come out of service, and more like them are going to be part of the future, by the time it becomes a scalable business, solutions must be found.