You hear a lot of complaints from folks about companies outsourcing. In fact, its known within the airline community that many airlines not do their own maintenance. Delta Air Lines works just the opposite. Not only do they not outsource their maintenance, but they also in-source work from other companies from around the globe.
Delta’s Technical Operations (TechOps) is located on the
west east side of the airport and is about 1.5 miles long. My tour guide, Anthony Black, thankfully opted for a golf cart, since we had a lot of ground to cover.
Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) is like its own city, but so is Delta TechOps. The TechOPs is so large, it has its own credit union, mini-hospital and interior roads complete with stop signs.
Delta flies many different aircraft types with a variety of engines. Down a long hallway are signs with different engine-types hanging from the ceilings (photo). Engines are located all all over the facility in different states of being repaired or overhauled.
Engines are very complex pieces of machinery composed of many different odd-shaped parts. Technicians need to be very careful of labeling each part to make sure they can put the engine-puzzle back together when completed (photo). When the composite fan blades are removed, they are stored separately and not allowed to touch (photo). Just be careful… each blade is worth about $20,000.00.
When the engine is done, it is moved into one of five test cells in the facility (photo). The test cell is a large wind tunnel and each engine will be run for about 8-12 hours to simulate a flight and to make sure it is ready to go back on an aircraft. After it gets the thumbs up, it is either placed on an aircraft waiting at the facility or packaged up and possibly shipped anywhere in the world for a customer (flight-line photo).
The facility doesn’t just do engine work. They also work on anything from replacing small nuts and bolts, adding winglets and completing an overhaul of an aircraft. About 150 different companies will in-source maintenance at the TechOps center, meaning they keep busy.
Our next stop was taking a look at the paint hangars. They have been very busy recently with the merger with Northwest Airlines, getting all the planes painted over to Delta’s livery. I wasn’t able to see any Delta aircraft being painted, but I was able to check out a Hawaiian Airlines Boeing 767 that was in for a new coat of paint (photo). The hangars have lifts that come down from the ceiling to allow workers to efficiently paint aircraft. This saves time, since the painters are easily able to work around the aircraft with their mechanical lifts.
The Delta TechOps is one impressive place. Not only with the size of the facility, but the scale of their operations. Next time you are flying to ATL, be sure to take a look out the window and see if you can check out some of the action happening at the TechOps.
Check out more photos of the Delta TechOps.