I'm helping a friend with an article on some issues in my country, mostly related to corruption. His English isn't very good, so here I go

One of the cases he's analyzing is the sale of 4 Boeing-707 airplanes for $50,000 . These airplanes couldn't fly but according to public information, they had their avionics, each of them has 4 working (not suitable for flying) Pratt & Whitney JT3D engines and one of them had a working intelligence/surveillance system (this was a very complex subject and now government says they'll try to keep this for training). Airplanes were for military use, both passengers and cargo.

Even considering selling them for scrap or replacement parts, is $50,000 a realistic price? For example, is there a place I can find prices for the parts, eg engines, landing gear and such?

EDIT: this is in Argentina, newspaper article (in Spanish).

Some data translated from article:

  • Approximate cruising speed: 977 km / h

  • Service ceiling: 11,000 meters

  • Approximate range: 8690 km

  • Empty weight: 62,500 kg

  • Load capacity: 94,000 pounds

  • Maximum operating weight: 335,600 pounds

  • It could carry up to 180 passengers

They are four-engine jet aircraft, Boeing brand.

  • Primary function: Transport of passengers and cargo, as the case may be.

  • Wing type: low implantation. Undercarriage: type retractable tricycle with 10 armed wheels. They have four Pratt & Whitney engines (turbines).

  • Length: 44 meters. Span: 47 meters. Tail height: 13 meters.

3 of the airplanes were bought by an US company specialized in airplanes' instrumental and parts, 1 was bought by a local party.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Where they are located may be a big part of a low price, maybe they can't be scrapped in-place, or there is a contingency for moving them in a certain period of time. There isn't a big demand for 707 parts. Maybe the contract says that they have to be refurbished for training, etc. There are too many questions without reading the actual purchase offer or sell agreement. $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Nov 2, 2017 at 17:12
  • $\begingroup$ USD 50,000 each? $\endgroup$
    – Koyovis
    Nov 2, 2017 at 21:42
  • $\begingroup$ No, all 4 for 50,000 $\endgroup$
    – Devin
    Nov 2, 2017 at 22:59
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ Make sure that the $50,000 is 'free and clear'. You may be liable for outstanding parking charges etc! $\endgroup$
    – Anilv
    Nov 3, 2017 at 4:03
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Would be cool time building a flight simulator out of one of them, with all switches and controls already in place, but this (and others similar) "creative" approaches probably need to much work to be viable commercially. $\endgroup$
    – h22
    Nov 3, 2017 at 7:05

5 Answers 5


Its surely possibly and there are a few things I can think of off hand,

  1. Missing Log Books: generally speaking if an aircraft is missing its log books you need to do quite a bit of tear down and rework on it to make it airworthy once again. In many cases the cost of this far out weighs the cost of a logbook/airworth plane so not always done. As such this can severely drive down the price of the aircraft making it close to worthless. In line with this, without the log books you can not sell any of the parts for replacement either. With out the ability to properly tag the part they are only worth their weight in scrap. Considering they seem unflyable and are fairly large to chop up and ship scrapping it can also become a costly maneuver.

  2. The tax man...: Airplanes (and all manner of vehicles) often change hands for strange dollar amounts due to various tax regulations. That does not look like the case here but it does happen.

  3. Simply Outdated: keep in mind the 707 is a fairly old plane by anyones standards these days. While it may have avionics chances are they are no newer than when it was parked there to collect dust, like it or not the best LORAN C unit in the world may have cost a fortune to install back then but is worth next to nothing now.

These things dont exactly go up for sale all that often but here is a pretty nice one listed for 6.2 Million and here is reference to one listed for only 700K. Please keep in mind that there are countless variables for this kind of thing that could drive the price both up and down drastically.


Actually $50,000 is a good price, at least for scrap. If the empty weight of each jet is approx 130,000lbs and aluminum sells for roughly 25 cents on the pound of scrap, that gives a scrap value for each jet at roughly 32,500 USD or about 130,000 USD for all four aircraft, netting you a profit of 80,000 USD on the sale. DO NOT BUY THE AIRCRAFT FOR FLIGHT USE; my guess is they’re worn out airframes and engines and would cost in the millions to refurbish them for that role.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You can't directly compare an airplane to the price of scrap aluminum. The problem is an airplane consists of many other metals, like stainless steel and magnesium, some of which are even radioactive. Plus hazardous materials like hydraulic fluid, lead, and even depleted uranium that must be removed and safely disposed of. Finally, aircraft use different alloys that contain different elements (such as copper) that aren't desirable in the common grades of aluminum. $\endgroup$
    – user71659
    Nov 3, 2017 at 15:11
  • $\begingroup$ 6061 and 7075 alloys are used in all kinds of products other than airframes. The rest of that is handled with the recycling process. $\endgroup$ Nov 3, 2017 at 15:22
  • $\begingroup$ That's a common misnomer. By weight, an aircraft is mostly alclad 2024 followed by some 7075. 6000 series alloys are rare. The issue is that none of these are suitable for casting: the majority of scrap is 300 series, used for cans and engine blocks. If you show up to a scrapyard with tons of non-cast non-6061 Al, they will pay you less because of the different composition and thus the more work the foundry has to do to adjust. $\endgroup$
    – user71659
    Nov 3, 2017 at 15:50
  • $\begingroup$ No it’s not. 6061 is one of the most common alloys out there for aircraft structures- been used since the DC-3 program. Also the cost estimates I give for scrap are on the lower end of the spectrum. It’ll sell for that. $\endgroup$ Nov 3, 2017 at 16:38
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Dude I work for 10 years in that industry designing aircraft structures, including on the G650 airplane which used 6061 aluminum alloy for its primary structure. Boeing made use of it extensively as well $\endgroup$ Nov 4, 2017 at 0:42

According to the article, they were classified as unrecoverable, damaged, had missing parts, didn't fly since 2006, and the EW system dated back from 1984.

Old aircraft (and other large hardware, like ships) get auctioned off all the time. Since the buyer is normally also responsible for getting it out of the field to wherever they want it, their actual costs are a lot higher than $12,500 per aircraft.

There's certainly more parts (in however little demand, as these are outdated) and scrap value in the planes, but cutting them up, finding the few parts worth something, taking them out, and disposing of what remains also takes money.

Disposal also has a cost to the seller, so sometimes they're willing to let what amounts to scrap for them to go for free, just to be rid of it. In that light, $50,000 is more than nothing.


Although the previous answers definitely provide accurate information in terms of the possibility that this is either for scrap airframes or a fraud deal, I would like to open your perspective to one more type. For certain countries and corporations, trades and sales between two groups that are at least friendly in relations can take part in certain limited "donations" in which a country (say the US) "sells" a set amount of old or outdated military hardware to an allied country with very limited offensive or usually defensive capabilities (think Western-aligned African and South American countries). This is more commonly done with naval or disposable hardware as they are more difficult for these friendly countries to develop/obtain otherwise, and are sold for a symbolic price, even something as low as $1.00 as to make the transfer an official sale. I understand that your friend is investigating something FROM a smaller country (Argentina by no means is needy in the military hardware category) but still country-to-corp transfers like these are not uncommon. The case I wish to point out is the sale of 23 Mig-29's from the recently reunited German Luftwaffe to Poland's air force for a symbolic price of 1 Euro. This is a great example of politically passable and legal transfers for what would seem like criminally low prices.


I would recommend you do this for either scrap, or, if you have time and money, a worthy airliner. As a person who collects jets (Like, old De Havilland Comets), I would pay you in the 10-100 millions to get one. Just an FYI, museums would love on of these for display. I sould a DC 3 to a museum and got shy of 1 million, and it cost me 20k in modern money.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ A 707 isn't exactly as rare as a DeHavilland Comet is. It's not going to command that kind of money. $\endgroup$ Apr 18, 2020 at 7:16

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