American Airlines Showcases Maintenance Plant, Turnaround Times

Tuesday, April 28th 2015, 1:57 pm
By: Emory Bryan

An American Airlines leadership team is in Tulsa Tuesday to tour the Tulsa base. American likes to bring in their executives and workforce from around the world to show them their Tulsa maintenance base.

They showed off the massive hangars that make up one of Tulsa's largest employers. Local employees say it's the best maintenance facility in the world, where they can overhaul everything from engines to entire airplanes.

To show their capabilities, they started with one of American's oldest planes.

The pride of the Maintenance Base these days is a DC-3 being refurbished to fly in airshows and on promotional tours.

Volunteers working off the clock do the work, but the expertise is the same that American relies on every day at the Tulsa maintenance base.

"It's quite an attraction when it moves somewhere outside the base," said Bill Brown, Flagship Detroit Foundation. 

"They come out with cameras. They just like to get a look at it."

The maintenance base workload is shifting as the airline updates the fleet with planes like an 787 Dreamliner that flew into Tulsa Tuesday afternoon.

The real transition is in the engine shop - with fewer engines from the MD-80s as they're retired - and more from the 737 - the workhorse of Americans new combined fleet.

"So we're going to have to make some investment here, but remember we have two airlines we brought together and we have capacity that came with the US operation so we can do heavy checks in Charlotte and Pittsburg, we just have to see how all of that fits together," said David Seymour, AA Senior Vice President of Technical Operations.

The Tulsa base has survived by adapting. Through some new efforts to streamline the work and cut costs, American believes their workforce in Tulsa can stay competitive.

3/17/2015 Related Story: American Airlines 787 Dreamliner Makes 1st Tulsa Visit

"Very expensive, overhauls cost us about $4 million. We do it in 52 days - that's world-class turn times; no one beats us," said American Airlines Crew Chief Ed Mason.

"I mean, we are the premier engine shop in the world."

Director Wayne Thomas said the whole process had taken in the 78 to 85 day range. According to American, that's kept the engine shop competitive and helped keep workers on the job.