Tearing Apart a Plane, Wing-to-Wing

The amazing maintenance process of a commercial airliner.

We may increasingly dread trips to the airport, but for the less cynical (and slightly more patient) among us, air travel is still a wonder. Think about it: A giant cylinder with wings transports you anywhere in the world in less than a day, and you’re plied with booze and Gerard Butler movies along the way. Or, as Louis C.K. put it, “You’re sitting in a chair in the sky. You’re like a Greek myth.”

Those chairs, though, are removable. As is just about everything else in the plane, including the bar from which your nonstop bourbon-sodas come. I know this because I watched the video above, which comes courtesy of Emirates Airlines and shows the inner workings of a heavy maintenance check on one of the airline’s Airbus A380s.

The process, known as a 3C-Check, is essentially a near-complete dismantling and reconstruction of the plane, with everything from the seats, bar, and upholstery, to the engines, coming off the plane—either to be replaced outright, or simply checked and reinstalled. The result is the removal and replacement/reinstallation of over 1,600 parts over the course of 55 days, and in the end, a hopefully good-as-new Airbus. Per Colin Disspain, Emirates vice president of base engineering, the process brings the plane back to “pristine condition, just as it originally left the factory. It’s like having a brand new A380 again.”

The visual of the process itself is amazing, as the sped-up replay looks closer to, say, wildlife footage of an animal carcass being dismembered than what you’d expect from a tune-up of the world’s largest passenger plane. And as you watch the colossal aircraft get taken apart and put back together again, you might gain a greater appreciation for the miracle of air travel, as deep-seated your hatred for the act itself may be.

h/t Jalopnik