Ever wonder what happens to old planes when they reach the end of their service lives? Brandon Arnold, owner of Custom Construction & Roofing in Roswell, New Mexico, can tell you—his company has used Cat® equipment to demolish more than 40 planes in the past year.

“It just looked cool,” Arnold said, describing how he got into the business. “We were doing construction work on the site and watched another company smash up the planes. I pestered the owner for years, telling him we’d love to do the work, and finally he said, ‘Can you start Monday?’”

Arnold and his team jumped at the chance, signing a five-year contract with AerSale Aircraft & Engine Operations to dismantle, scrap and recycle planes—some as large as Boeing 747s. It typically takes just four days for the company to turn a plane into scrap piles a foot or smaller in size ready for shipping.

A long-time Cat equipment user, Arnold purchased two 345C L Excavators to do the majority of the work and also uses a TH560 Telehandler and 252B Skid Steer Loader on site. His company recently landed another demolition contract with the city of Roswell and bought a 320EL Excavator for that work.

“I just like Cat equipment best. The power and breakout forces are better,” he said. “I also like that [the Cat machines] lets me use Equipment Technician and the Service Information System in the field. Sometimes we’re remote, and it helps minimize downtime when I can diagnose issues myself.”

Arnold is also a big fan of the support and parts availability he gets from Cat dealer Wagner Equipment. Early on in the plane demolition project, a hydraulic cooler failed on one of his excavators.

“Wagner was real quick to find out what the problem was and get it fixed,” he said. “I may not be the biggest fish in Wagner’s sea, but they treat me like I am.”

Using two Cat® 345C L Excavators, it takes Brandon Arnold’s company just four days to dismantle, scrap and recycle an end-of-life airplane.

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320E L Excavator

A great all-around excavator, the 320E is easy to maneuver, yet powerful enough to handle tough jobs.

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