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A Turkish Airlines flight recently ran off the runway and ended up on its belly in a field. The landing gear were damaged, but the plane didn't burn and the fuselage remained intact.

Are planes involved in this sort of accident repaired and returned to service, or are the planes usually scrapped?

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  • $\begingroup$ Boeing has a dedicated team for this. Of course they don't refer to "crashed", it's called the Airplane on Ground (AOG) team. $\endgroup$ – MSalters Mar 6 '15 at 9:28
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If the aircraft can be economically repaired (there is no major structural damage, and we're not talking about an aircraft already scheduled to be retired) then it's likely the aircraft will be repaired and returned to service. When you spend several million on an aircraft you aren't going to throw it away for a few tens or hundred thousand dollars worth of damage, particularly as it's probably insured.

If the aircraft is structurally compromised to the point where repairs would not be economical (or if we're talking about an older aircraft which has given many years of service and is due for retirement) it would probably be written off and scrapped for any salvageable parts (either repairing it to a condition where it could be ferried to a "boneyard" or dismantled and cut up at the accident site - whichever option is less expensive for the airline).


As one particularly famous datapoint, the Gimli Glider had an off-airport landing with a nose gear collapse in 1983. The aircraft was repaired, returned to service, and flew until 2008 (a little under 25 years of additional service after its incident).

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    $\begingroup$ A couple of years ago I was waiting at the gate for a transatlantic flight when the registration of the aircraft I was about to board was suddenly familiar to me (C-GITS), but I couldn't remember what I knew it from. Quick googling revealed it was the Azores glider which is still in service today. This time it safely reached the other side of the pond. $\endgroup$ – DeltaLima Mar 5 '15 at 8:40
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    $\begingroup$ One of the more remarkable examples is JAL Flight 2. In 1968, a DC-8 landed in the bay 2.5 miles short of SFO due to pilot error. Nobody was injured, the aircraft was refurbished at the cost of many millions of dollars, and it returned to service for several decades (it reportedly went to salvage in 2001). $\endgroup$ – Zach Lipton Mar 5 '15 at 9:35
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    $\begingroup$ It's also worth noting that the converse holds: sometimes what seems like relatively minor damage will result in a plane being scrapped. I believe the Southwest plane that lost its nose gear at LGA SWA345 / NTSB File DCA13FA131 was scrapped as Southwest felt the needed repairs were uneconomical on a 15-year-old airframe. $\endgroup$ – voretaq7 Mar 5 '15 at 18:10
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    $\begingroup$ To be pedantic, the Gimli Glider didn't make an off-airport landing. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Mar 5 '15 at 18:16
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    $\begingroup$ @jamesqf It made a "former airport" landing - I believe the drag strip had been removed from the chart at the time it landed there :) $\endgroup$ – voretaq7 Mar 5 '15 at 19:06
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Yes, some even after a fairly fiery crash. Here are some photos and a video illustrating some very interesting cases (ALCI Lidia 2012-13 crash and recovery and ALCI Mia accident in 2009).

Here they even say that the airframe was totaled ten years prior to this accident and repaired a year after that.


Edit: Factual corrections about the video (thank you @DeltaLima).

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    $\begingroup$ The video is not from the Lydia crash recovery, but from the Mia crash recovery. Very interesting to see though. $\endgroup$ – DeltaLima Mar 5 '15 at 11:52
  • $\begingroup$ @DeltaLima Thanks, I'll edit the answer. $\endgroup$ – Pavel Mar 5 '15 at 12:10
  • $\begingroup$ Holy cow! They actually rebuilt that plane in the field in Alaska? That must be an expensive plane if recovery efforts in those conditions was economical. $\endgroup$ – FreeMan Mar 5 '15 at 13:23
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    $\begingroup$ @FreeMan I've seen suggestions that they were going to have to move the airplane regardless of whether it flew on its own power or was cut up and trucked/flown out. With that constraint it was probably worthwhile to get it airworthy. Also note that wasn't Alaska, it was Antarctica. $\endgroup$ – casey Mar 5 '15 at 16:22
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I don't know about large aircraft, but for smaller aircraft it is usually dependent on whether a structural member was damaged, especially a bulkhead. If a structural member is bent or crushed, then usually a small plane will be unsalvageable, but if structural members are intact and undamaged, then usually the aircraft can be repaired.

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    $\begingroup$ This also depends on WHICH structural member: As you've noted a crushed former/bulkhead might do a plane in, but there are some light planes flying around that have had wing transplants (something happened to bend the spar, so unbolt the wing, bolt a new/salvaged one on, and keep flying). $\endgroup$ – voretaq7 Mar 6 '15 at 19:22
  • $\begingroup$ @voretaq7 I used the word "usually". Every crash is different. $\endgroup$ – Tyler Durden Mar 6 '15 at 19:28
  • $\begingroup$ I'm not going to argue english-language semantics with you - I made the comment because your answer seemed incomplete and likely to give an incorrect impression. Feel free to incorporate my clarification/expansion into your answer, or not, as you wish. $\endgroup$ – voretaq7 Mar 6 '15 at 19:50

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