The issue of service lives has emerged as investors have come to recognize that aircraft will not remain in primary service for 30 years, leading to the conclusion that asset life should be considered alongside technical and economic lives. The concept of technical, or design life, has been in existence for many years and is a cornerstone of aircraft design. Regulatory rules dictate that an aircraft must have a certain design life such that the structure will, in normal circumstances, remain largely crack and corrosion free. The accumulated number of hours and/or cycles will largely determine such technical life of an aircraft. The technical service life has been extended from 20 years to longer as maintenance and inspection techniques have been improved. The introduction of new materials has the potential to extend design lives even further, as with the B787. Manufacturers are constantly seeking to extend service lives by introducing maintenance provisions. Aircraft can technically remain viable for 30 years or more. Much depends on the hour to cycle ratio.
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