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Sad: Video Shows Wamos Air Boeing 747 Being Torn Apart

Footage has emerged of a former Wamos Air Boeing 747-400 being torn apart in Catalonia. The aircraft in question had been withdrawn in January this year. However, is this set to become a more familiar sight in the near future? With the drop in passenger demand caused by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic prompting several airlines to prematurely retire their larger aircraft, this may well be the case.

The aircraft is being broken up at Lleida–Alguaire Airport in Spain. Photo: Anna Zvereva via Flickr

A sad end for an iconic aircraft

Yesterday afternoon, a short video was published on Twitter showing a small crane slowly but surely breaking up the nose of a former Wamos Air Boeing 747. It is a sight that many avgeeks will be devastated to see, but, unfortunately, one we are likely to have to get used to in years to come.

The clips were shot at Lleida–Alguaire Airport, a small, regional airport in the west of Catalonia. As far as commercial aviation is concerned, Iberia Regional serves the airport with domestic flights to Ibiza, Mallorca, and Menorca. Icelandair has also been known to store some of its grounded Boeing 737 MAX aircraft here.

However, its other purpose sparks far less joy than a holiday in the Balearic Islands. It is here that certain aircraft come to be dismantled at the end of their service lives. This is an extensive, four/five-stage process, consisting of the following steps:

  1. Draining of fluids
  2. Engine removal
  3. Removal and listing of resaleable parts
  4. Removal of hazardous material. This aspect is unique to Boeing 747s as earlier versions (550 aircraft built between 1968 and 1981) used depleted uranium as counterweights.
  5. Tearing down of remaining metal using diggers and other industrial vehicles
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Wamos Air 747
Breaking up a Boeing 747 such as those of Wamos Air requires an extensive, four/five-stage process. Photo: Getty Images

All in all, the fifth step represents a rather unceremonious end for any aircraft, let alone the ‘Queen of the Skies.’ But what was the story of the aircraft in the video before it came to Catalonia for dismantling?

A colorful service life

The aircraft in the video bore the registration EC-KSM. According to Planespotters.net, it had been withdrawn from service on January 6th, 2020, and moved to Lleida–Alguaire four days later. During its time at the airline, it had a high-density passenger configuration. This consisted of 517 economy seats, as well as a small 12-seat business class cabin. At 26 years old, it had been one of the oldest remaining Boeing 747 aircraft.

EC-KSM spent more than half its service life with Singapore Airlines, having been delivered in 1994 registered as 9V-SMW. In 2008, it moved to Spanish leisure carrier Pullmantur Air, upon which its registration changed to EC-KSM. This airline later became known as Wamos Air in 2014. However, since then, it has also been leased to various Asian airlines, although its registration has remained constant. These are as follows:

  • Biman Bangladesh Airlines (once)
  • Garuda Indonesia (five times)
  • Saudi Arabian Airlines (once)
EC-KSM Pullmantur Air Las Vegas 2011
EC-KSM in its former Pullmantur Air livery at Las Vegas in 2011. Photo: Tomás Del Coro via Flickr

Wamos Air’s remaining 747s

According to Wamos Air’s website, the airline still has two Boeing 747-400 aircraft left in its fleet. These are equipped with the following two slightly different seating configurations:

  • EC-KXN – 24 business, 451 economy
  • EC-MDS – 10 business, 23 economy plus, 430 economy
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However, Planespotters.net reports that they are both in storage, with an average age of over 24 years. As COVID-19 continuing to significantly impact passenger demand, one has to wonder whether these aircraft may also have reached the end of the line. Here’s to hoping that they can return to the skies one day after all.


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