The world was brought to a sudden standstill in March 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic halted most travel, resulting in the immediate grounding of 62% of passenger planes.  Consequently, various challenges emerged, including a lack of parking real estate and increased maintenance costs for planes not designed to stay idle. Scandinavian Airlines (SAS), in particular, had most of its planes exposed to Norway’s typically harsh winter.
Grounding a fleet is not an easy task. When parked for long periods, airplane engines need protection from the elements as well as other detrimental influences like debris and animals. Airlines have a few choices, such as specialized long-term storage in a dry, warm climate or a more flight-ready approach.  The latter involves keeping the engines covered while parked outside, aside from required weekly engine operation checks.
Standard procedures require various covers to prevent moisture and other objects from damaging the engines, keeping humidity levels stable with desiccants. Unfortunately, airlines like SAS did not have the necessary inventory of off-the-shelf engine covers, exhaust plugs, etc., for these additional grounded planes. Without proper equipment, parking the airplanes wouldn’t have been an option.
Initially, as a remedial fix, SAS used plastic wrap and tape, an acceptable approach for small-scale, short-term storage. However, with continuously idle airplanes, the engines need to be uncovered for their weekly engine starts. Jason Deadman, a production engineer at SAS, describes the eight-hour process of engine unpacking and repacking for these checks as “quite an operation.”
As the pandemic extended, a longer-term solution that was quicker and more cost-effective was needed.