How to cut an airplane


When the Dutch company AELS needed to split a retired Boeing 737-300 in five parts without any debris, they turned to Husqvarna’s Special Applications Team. By using a custom-made diamond wire sawing solution, the result blew the customer away.

Debris danger

Dismantling or disassembling airplanes can be a messy job. The most common method is using power cutters or hydraulic scissors, two cost effective solutions with one major setback – the risk of debris flying around. Patrick Meeremans, Global Special Applications Manager at Husqvarna, explains why that sometimes can be dangerous: 

“A lot of grounded airplanes are parked close to the runways. In those cases there is a real danger that some piece of debris is swallowed by an engine during take-off or landing.”

Clean and straight cuts

AELS (Aircraft End of Life Solutions), a Dutch company operating worldwide specialising in dismantling and disassembling aircrafts, contacted Husqvarna’s Special Applications Team with a very specific request – could they split an airplane in five parts using a wire saw to get the cleanest cuts possible and avoid debris? 

“The tail was going to be put on another airplane and the middle section, the fuselage, was to be reused for training purposes. It was crucial that the cuts were very clean”, says Patrick Meeremans.

Using a diamond wire solution not only allowed for a smoother cut, it also made it much easier to cut straight.

“Imagine you have a big tube of paper with a diameter of one metre, and you take a pair of scissors and try to make a perfect cut – it is extremely hard to end up at the same place you started at”, says Patrick Meeremans.

Splitting the airplane body in less than 20 minutes

The Boeing 737-300 was located at the Aviolanda Woensdrecht air base in the southern part of the Netherlands. For the task Patrick Meeremans and his colleague Antoine Henneaux brought with them a Husqvarna CS 2512 wire saw equipped with a Cobra C 1000 diamond wire and the hydraulic power pack PP 455 E. 

“With this setup, two people is all you need to get the job done”, says Patrick Meeremans.

Besides setting up and pausing a few times for adjustments, each cut of the airplane’s main body took less than 20 minutes. AELS Project Manager Patrik Huiberts was very impressed with the result.

“We had seen some demos by others who claimed they could do this, but they never succeeded. The easy way of cutting with Husqvarna’s wire and the clean cut through all types of material and structure surprised us. We were very satisfied”, says Patrik Huiberts.

Successful project

Following the successful pilot project, Patrik Huiberts says that AELS plans to use wire cutting in the future for some of their assignments.

“Wire cutting is great when removing ghost planes parked next to runways and it could also be a perfect solution to remove airplanes from crash sites”, he says, adding that in cases when scattered debris is not a problem, the fastest solution for dismantling airplanes is using an excavator with a cutting head and a Husqvarna K 760 power cutter for the more precise cuts.

Not only the AELS representatives were impressed by Husqvarna’s diamond wire cut.

“While working we shot some bits and pieces of video with our mobile phones and put together a clip that AELS posted online. They quickly received seven requests for having airplanes cut up that way. So it was a very fruitful project for both of us”, says Patrick Meeremans.

Facts - Sawing with diamond wires

  • Husqvarna’s Diamond wires are used in heavy demolition jobs, like dry cutting of steel, nuclear decommissioning and extremely accurate sawing on oilrigs.
  • The C 1000 wire is mostly used for cutting medium to hard reinforced Concrete.
The Boeing airplane on Aviolanda Woensdrecht air base in the Netherlands.

The Boeing airplane on Aviolanda Woensdrecht air base in the Netherlands.

Clean cuts and minimum debris.
Clean cuts and minimum debris.

Cutting off one of the wings.
Cutting off one of the wings.

Press Manager

David Hagström
Acting Vice President Marketing for Husqvarna Construction Products
+46 (0)31 94 90 08