Why are airlines not required by law to update their planes more often and use newer models? Many commercial planes being used today are older than most people on this website.


Is there no safety issue there?

In: Other

Older models are perfectly safe in most cases. Old airframes are often refreshed with upgraded avionics and other components on a periodic basis. However if an aircraft is kept in good repair there’s no reason it can’t fly more or less indefinitely.

Short-haul operators tend to wear out airframes the quickest (landings are high stress events) but with good inspections and upkeep even they can keep them in the air for 20 years.

The planes are constantly under maintenance and are retrofitted quite often. If the engines and the body are in good shape, all sorts of things can be changed at a much lower cost than replacing the plane. Airline travel wouldnt be affordable if they replaced the fleet every 5-10 years, but they change the avionics, engine parts, etc.

Many parts are mandated to be changed after a certain number of hours, so even the guts of the engines are replaced over time. Airline travel remains one of the absolute safest methods of transportation so it’s simply not necessary.

The life-cycle of an airplane is simply really really long. They are built to last, with maintenance of course, for a looooong time. There really isn’t a need for “new” planes, if a plane works, then its good to go.

New planes are incredibly expensive, which means its worthwhile for anyone to have planes that last a very long time, so that the cost can be allocate over say 30 years– much like a house.

If you had to buy a new house every 5-10 years that would suck right? A plane works the same. You keep up maintenance, just like you would a home. You upgrade it, you fix it, you keep it working. And eventually maybe you sell it off to someone else, and buy a new and better home. A plane works the same.

As a side note, not just commercial planes, but many private and hobbiest aircraft (like Cessnas) that were built in 70s and 80s are really common to fly still for private pilots. They lack a lot of new features, but they fly just fine.

A mixture of lobbyist that dump lots of money into the political system and people who claim additional regulation would hurt or inhibit business and growth work together in order to make a perfect storm where the cost of doing business is far below the cost of services. Most companies will do just enough to stay legal. The rest eats into profits.

Sorry I should have been more specific. If the plane was new then it would be just as safe as the day it rolled off the assembly line. However parts age. When a new part is needed it is not always a brand new part. Sometimes it is a refurbished part. The people who maintain the Aircraft are under pressure in many locations to over state or error on the side of profit when it comes to quality of equipment. You get a situation where your lead or manger does not have any experience working on or maintaining aircraft. But he does get his job threatened by his leadership for not meeting time lines.

I personally was removed from a leadership position because I would not “play ball” and sign off on a known safety issue. The problem is in many cases the companies, to an extent are allowed to self regulate.

This self regulation happens due to the for mentioned lobbyists as well as a factory or plant being in a district that relies on the jobs. If the company has to make changes it tends to mess with their bottom line, so people are fired inorder to round that square. modern air travel is about the safest form of travel out there however shoddy maintenance kills people, and people more worried about money than safety kills people as well.

Edit added a few things for context. I’m also sure the down votes came from the assumption that my initial post was political in nature.

Edit again I only saw the one reply a bunch of others hit the nail on the head and said it better than me

The aircraft industry is very tightly regulated for safety.

We tend to think of maintenance it terms of cars where people regularly ignore even basic maintenance like changing the oil, and checking tire pressures. Aircraft are held to much tighter standards.

Aircraft undergo regularly scheduled checks and maintenance to ensure they are in top-condition. The number of operational hours are kept track of and every X number of hours planes have to be X-ray’d and tested for craks, Y hours they engine rebuilds, etc.

Performing this maintenance isn’t cheap, but it’s considerably cheaper than buying multi-million dollar aircraft.

Eventually an aircraft will go time-ex meaning that it has flown too many hours and will no longer be certified or insured to fly. At which point it becomes scrap.

The maintenance aircraft undergo is a big part of the reason the airline industry is as safe as it is. Statistically speaking you are something like 700 times more likely to die in the cab on the way to the airport than in a plane crash.

>Many commercial planes being used today are older than most people on this website.

So what? The average age of some group of people is not the benchmark by which we judge engineering standards. Do you know how many houses or other buildings that are currently in use are older than *any* currently living person? Imagine if you were forced to buy the newest model car every time it came out instead of driving the one you have now that’s perfectly fine?

Airplanes and their components are built to be able to last at least a certain number flight-hours. Unless there’s been some sort of damage, the component or the airframe itself will last that long, whether it takes 4 years or 40 years. Airplanes undergo regular maintenance and aging parts are replaced as needed and as mandated by law. When the airframe is aging, it’s retired. There’s no need to replace it before that just because a newer model came out. As new safety features are required, airlines implement them (what safety regulations governments deem necessary is an entirely separate topic).

Which older planes have crashed recently? Exactly. There’s your answer. Planes are maintained better than just about any vehicles there are.

I recently flew on a turboprop plane built in the 1950s. They keep up maintenance and repairs. Large aircraft undergo certain check schedules, A, B, C, D after a certain number of flight hours. D is the most intensive, every 6-10 years they essentially disassemble and reassemble the entire aircraft.

If you were to think of an airplane like a passenger car, it’s not like the old volvo your neighbor down the street drives, leaking oil and blowing smoke out the pipe. Safety is an important factor for air travel. It would be more like the guy down the street with the motorcycle who tears down his engine every however many miles, checks his tire pressures, rebuilds the carburetors, etc to keep it in perfect running order. Even if the airplane was originally built years ago, it is routinely inspected and any worn or damaged parts are replaced to ensure safety.

The latest B52 bomber was built in 1963, and is slated to serve another 30.

Airplanes are built **without** the planned obsolescence of most consumer products. They are designed to be maintained indefinitely.