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As more people resume their international business trips and holidaying abroad, flight and passenger numbers are finally starting to reach similar levels to those of 2019. In April 2022, the number of arrivals in the UK were only 18% below the figure for 2019. What’s more, Labor Day weekend marked the first time that holiday weekend travel in the US exceeded 2019 pre-pandemic levels.

This is a welcome change after two years of COVID disruption. 2020 and 2021 saw flight numbers drop dramatically, as international travel was restricted. Additionally, the UK saw more than 14,000 ghost flights during the pandemic, with no more than 10% of seats filled on countless numbers of journeys. This disruption forced many airlines to move a significant number of their aircraft into storage.

Now appetite for travel has returned and airlines have to match that demand and bring back previously grounded planes. Were you able to successfully bring back parts of your fleet during the summer as well as the staff to crew them? As the demands of the market ebb and flown, managing your fleet in storage will be an ongoing challenge. Here are some things to keep in mind when handling that process.


Why do aeroplanes go into storage?

Airplane out of use General lack of use
When there is a downturn in air travel, some airlines choose to store some of their less fuel-efficient models. Airlines will also store plane models that they ultimately plan on retiring.

Safety concerns Safety concerns
If an issue is identified with a particular model of aircraft, this causes the fleet of that model to be grounded while the fault is investigated, and the model is cleared to fly again.

Change of hands Changing hands
When a lease ends and the planes changes hands, they can be temporarily grounded as contracts are signed and finer details are worked out.


Aircraft on ground: the logistics of bringing a plane back to service


The first thing to consider is the location of the storage. If you do not have enough space at your head quarters, you may have to send off your aircraft to another airport or to a storage specialist.

With external storage there are other factors to consider. For example, is there maintenance on-site? Or will you need to reposition your maintenance personnel?

How Ideagen’s Q-Pulse QMS can help

Risk Management software centralises your safety data and procedures in one user friendly space. Evaluate risk and create competency plans to support the relocation of assets and staff, regardless of the geographical location of your fleet.

Assign responsibility and stakeholders to risks, encouraging collaboration in determining storage options. Apply banding and matrices to visual and categories risks and set reviews and prompts so that you can take a proactive approach to risk management.



Aeroplanes require a significant level of maintenance in order to keep them flightworthy. If a plane is grounded for a week or two, the level of maintenance required will be higher than planes that are going into storage for an extended period because they might be called to fly at short notice.

When the aircraft is ‘parked’ for a short stay, the tasks can include reactivating systems, powering up the engines and running them, and having the tires turned and rolled.

For long-term storage you need to consider issues such as temperature and environment - regularly opening the aircraft doors to prevent odours building and preventing bacteria growth within fuel tanks. Furthermore, the interior of the aeroplane needs consideration with seats and flooring needing to be protected and cleaned.

Oh, and don’t forget the birds and bugs! Birds can nest under the wing, in the engines, and even on landing gear, while insect infestations can block vital systems.

How Ideagen’s Q-Pulse QMS can help

Resolve problems quickly with closed-loop processes for recording findings, developing recommendations and implementing action plans. Seamlessly handle non-conformances, with defects and risks feeding back to various other modules in the system.

Send notifications and upkeep actions to relevant staff and ensure that nothing is missed in the maintenance process. Clean and simple issue reporting forms encourage your entire workforce to become your eyes and ears.

Complete all necessary checks

There are multiple checks required to ensure that the aircraft is fully airworthy before it can be returned to service. Anything that could have been disturbed whilst being in storage will need to be tested, as well as general operational, engine, and fluid checks. A Maintenance Check Flight (MCF) might be required to check the performance of any systems or parts of the aircraft.

How Ideagen’s Q-Pulse QMS can help

Q-Pulse makes it easy to plan, schedule and perform any type of QHSE audit and inspection. The system automatically generates targeted to-do list messages, with all your asset information consolidated in a centralised library.

Build and configure a paperless audit programme to your specifications. Save on administration with instant audit report generation and examine audit scores and findings to easily pinpoint weaknesses. Audits can be completed on your mobile, from anywhere, to give you a seamless reporting process.

Review your staffing situation

Another thing that airlines will need to think about is their staffing. Air New Zealand recently brought their Boeing 777-300 aircraft out of storage and this has meant rehiring cabin crew, pilots and engineers. If you are bringing back several planes, will you need to hire and train new staff? Or move staff across from other areas? Will they require additional training?

Answering these questions in advance can be critical when speeding up recruitment and getting all your employees on the same page.

How Ideagen’s Q-Pulse QMS can help

With the Q-Pulse Training Module you can build and schedule training sessions for all new staff or those returning to service, with full access to past training history. As an administrator you can push prompts and reminders to staff via the system, with upcoming training and actions displayed in a clean calendar view. Build groups of training courses quickly, across multiple areas of expertise, so you can tailor the experience to each specific role in your staff.

You can tag training records with associated audits or risks identified and the system is multilingual meaning you can provide training across your global workforce.

“What began as our need for a system with core functionality like occurrence reporting has now expanded into a one-stop-shop for safety and quality. We have been able to fill the gaps that previous digital processes didn’t, with a system that provides full visibility.”

— David Deveau , Vice President of Environmental Health and Safety , The Inland Group


Find out more

Ideagen's Q-Pulse simplifies your processes, diminishing the stress that comes with returning your aircraft to service. Speak to our expert team today to find out more.

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Written by

Sam Miles

As a Content Marketer at Ideagen, it is Sam’s job to bring you interesting content and relevant resources to help your organisation navigate all the challenges and opportunities in the world of Quality, Health & Safety, and the Environment. Sam has worked in B2B content marketing for over 7 years, previously working in the education sector helping colleges and universities improve their processes.