A Boeing 757 with its nose off in for work at Delta Tech Ops.

A Boeing 757 with its nose off in for work at Delta Tech Ops. Click for larger.

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 Tech Ops has hundreds of engines worth millions of dollars each.

Delta Tech Ops has many engines worth millions of dollars each. Click for larger.

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).

Delta's paint hangars have lifts come down from the ceiling (shouldn't they be called "lowers" then?).

Delta's paint hangars have lifts come down from the ceiling (shouldn't they be called "lowers" then?). Click for larger.

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.

David is the Editor-in-Chief & Founder of AirlineReporter. He has written, consulted, and presented on multiple topics relating to airlines and travel since 2008. He has been quoted and written for a number of news organizations, including BBC, CNN, NBC News, Bloomberg, and others. He is passionate about sharing the complexities, the benefits, and the fun stuff of the airline business. Email me: david@airlinereporter.com

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Madam MRO

How about some video coverage of an engine change out? American did a great video for the 777. The engine change took over 6 hours but the video was just over 4 minutes.

You are right — that was one slick video: http://www.airlinereporter.com/2010/09/video-time-lapse-of-american-airlines-boeing-777-engine-swap/

Unfortunately I only had about an hour at the TechOps, so no time lapse video this time!


I hope whoever that was at American that told you they can change a 777 engine in 6 hours didn’t sell you any swamp land!! 😉 That is a big job.

Thank you for the correction. I unfortunately I missed the actual engine change out because I was looking at land when a gator snatched the phone right out of my hand. I am still trying to wipe the mud of my face.

Thanks again.

Philip Holmes

Great article. The Delta TOC is located on the east side of the airport though.

That is what I get for not looking at a map. The whole tour I kept trying to get my bearings, obviously I never got them :). Update and thanks.


Just an AMT

David, I don’t mean to burst your bubble, but you are incorrect about the outsourcing. Sorry.

Well I guess that is one way for an airline to stay afloat. No wonder they are not in such bad shape financially.

Delta Virtual Airlines

Delta Tech ops “does” outsourse a lot of their maintenance. They do alot of insoursing, but they outsoarse a lot of work as well.

Spelled Outsource wrong….my bad!

is there any way to tour the hangar?

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