Teruel, the airport with most aircraft grounded in Europe

As European skies are a lot emptier in 2020, and the big commercial airports even more so, many people wonder where airlines are storing their aircraft during the pandemic. The (only at first sight) surprising answer is: in Teruel, Aragón.

Teruel airport, dedicated exclusively to MRO and other industrial activities, has been reuniting the biggest number of grounded planes in Europe for the last months. More than 130 airplanes, from the smaller Boeing 737 to a dozen impressive A-380, are sitting in the Teruel plains like a group of big white birds patiently waiting for their journey to continue.

The dry climate of the Teruel region, with ist altitude of more than 1.000 meters above sea level, is perfect for the storage of aircraft. The strategic decision of the Government of Aragon to install an industrial airport here has brought, through Tarmac and other companies based at the airport, over 400 new jobs to the area.

Planes grounded by coronavirus park at Spain´s Teruel.

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Teruel Airport already has authorization to receive flights with passengers

The General Directorate of Transport of the Goverment of Aragon, AESA and the General Directorate of Civil Aviation issue favorable authorization and reports to the Teruel airport.

Teruel Airport already has the authorization to receive passenger flights of up to 19. From the General Directorate of Transport, the existing authorization for air traffic was modified to accommodate this type of commercial passenger traffic flights, without the provision of AFIS services.

The Minister of Territory Vertebration, Mobility and Housing, José Luis Soro, highlighted that with this new service we continue to advance in the growth of the Teruel Airport. "We opened the commercial activity of the airport to the arrival of aircraft with passengers on a discretionary and to the use of the facilities for air taxis. At this moment the Airport can be used for executive flight.

Soro explained that "the last necessary step was the mandatory report from the Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda that we already have at the moment."

The general director of the Teruel Airport, Alejandro Ibrahim, explained that in March 2019 we started with the procedures to get to this moment. We also have favorable reports from the State Aviation Safety Agency and we have been adapting Teruel Airport to the needs. "Some of these measures are the placement of a metal detector arch, an X-ray inspection equipment for luggage or a Explosives and drugs trace detection equipment In addition, the triple safety and sanitary control measure for passenger use: remote infrared temperature measurement, visual inspection and the location form, known as the Passenger Location Card (PLC).

Teruel Airport is managed through the Consortium formed by the Government of Aragon and the Teruel City Council.

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European project seeks reusability of thermoset composites by means of plastic degrading enzymes generating reusable by-products

The Aragon-based technology centre Aitiip is coordinating the Bizente research project, which involves 10 partners from five countries and a budget of 3.18 million euros
Up to 40% of emissions could be reduced by applying this technology to thermoset plastics, which would no longer end up being burned or buried in landfills, as it is now
the case Industries such as aeronautics – with 12,000 aircraft awaiting withdrawal from service-, construction, automotive or wind industries will benefit from this initiative

Zaragoza, 20th May 2020.- The breaking down of about 27.5% of plastic waste from thermoset composites which have reached their useful life cycle, and cutting down 40% of emissions into the environment by means of enzymes in order to obtain reusable products thanks to an efficient and sustainable process; this is the main objective of the Bizente project. The Bizente project is a pioneering project funded by the European Union within the 2020 Horizon Initiative, under the coordination of the Aragon-based Technology Centre Aitiip. The overall budget for this study - encompassing 10 partners from 5 countries and 50 professionals- is 3.18 million euros, including 2.5 million from the European Commission. Its estimated duration is 48 months, from May 2020 to April 2024.
The Bizente Project rises up to the sustainability and circular economy challenges the EU faces.

Currently there is no final solution for the reusability of thermoset composites: these are either stored in landfills while a solution to valorisation and further reuse is found, or end up being incinerated, causing a negative environmental footprint and harmful effects on public health.

Thus, in the aeronautic industry alone there are over 12,000 aircraft about to be withdrawn for service after reaching the end of their useful life cycle containing between 20% and 40% of composites, a percentage which can reach 70% in the latest aircraft models. This problem affects other sectors such as the railway, construction, automotive, power, electronics or sport equipment industries.

This is the first project funded by the EU using enzymes to deal with composites once they have exceeded their lifespan. The Bizente technology is used for the controlled biodegradation of thermoset materials by means of enzymes (organic molecules capable of triggering chemical reactions), which is a new solution involving the application of a bio-catalytic process to a new type of feedstock, i.e. three thermoset resins (epoxy, polyester and vinyl ester) which had not been previously tackled in the value chain of plastics. This innovation opens up new markets and business opportunities for the treatment of plastic waste and provides a new life for products valorised after their biodegradation.

Bizente project´s specific solutions, with international impact, will entail wealth and employment growth. In this regard, partners in the Bizente project will create 16 direct jobs once the project ends, while its socioeconomic contribution might entail up to 1,800 indirect jobs in the sectors of the value chain involved: waste management, biotechnology (enzymes), chemical and composite transformation sectors. These figures can be drawn from the current positive impact that the bio-economy and the circular economy are having on the local economies regarding employment, a boost that would occur in the composites sector, with an estimated 15% growth in jobs involved in recycling and waste management in the next 15 years.

The Bizente project involves a range of work packages, ranging from environmental assessment (involving the social and economic prospects) to dissemination and social awareness raising, through definition of business strategies, staff training, health and safety on toxics, and the meeting of regulations. In addition, it involves professionals from the engineering, chemistry, biology and environmental sectors, among others. This way, partners in the Bizente project cover all the links in the chain involved in this interdisciplinary project, from lab tests to its practical implementation in the industrial sector.

The coordination of the project falls to the Spanish entity, Aitiip Technology Centre, a private foundation involved in R&D&I in materials and processes oriented to society and industry alike, with a wealth of experience regarding both participation in and coordination of European projects. Other institutions and companies party to Bizente are: University of Cádiz (Spain) and Delft University of Technology (Netherlands) as research centres; Evoenzyme (Spain), European Composite Recycling Technology (Denmark), Specific Polymers (France) and Biosphere (Italy), as companies with R&D capabilities; and Teruel Airport, Acciona Construcción and Aernnova, all of them from Spain, as end-users of Bizente technology.