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ven before the 2008 merger with Northwest Airlines, Delta TechOps was pushing beyond

its established MRO base of repairing and overhauling Boeing aircraft. But moving aggressively into the Airbus MRO marketplace was made much easier by the addition of Northwest’s A319, A320 and A330 fleet, says Jack Turnbill, Delta TechOps’ vice president of marketing and sales. “It just would not have been possible to take such a leap without Northwest,” Turnbill tells Aviation Maintenance. “But thanks to the Northwest deal, we have the people and equipment to service Airbus as well as Boeing. This is exactly what we needed, as we take Delta TechOps into the future.”

Added Capabilities

From the merger, Delta TechOps gained about 2,000 support personnel plus airframe maintenance hangars at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) and Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW). The Minneapolis-St. Paul facility also includes an engine test cell and composite repair shop. “We are working to find ways

to incorporate these locations into our MRO network,” says Turnbill. “Our combined worldwide network now includes nearly 8,800 maintenance professionals.” “We are actively adding the

Airbus capabilities to our MRO portfolio,” he adds. “We recently were selected by Hawaiian Airlines to provide our Complete Fleet Services offering for their A330 fleet.” Turnbill claims this contract “would not have been possible without the success of our integration with the professionals from Northwest Airlines.” Turnbill credits Northwest

for having “developed strong engineering, materials and program management capabilities.” He describes Northwest’s in-house support aptitudes as “focused around line maintenance and limited component and composite repair.”

An Airline Beginning

Long before the merger, Delta TechOps was called Delta Technical Operations, and was the maintenance division of Delta Air Lines. The company that began as Huff Daland Duster Co. of Macon, Georgia – reputedly the first-ever crop duster firm when it opened in 1924 – had moved into passenger service by 1929, changing its name to Delta Air Service. As Delta expanded over the years,

it naturally added maintenance, repair and overhaul facilities to manage its fleet. In the early days, the maintenance division had to support Travel Air S-6000B high-wing monoplanes. Capable of carrying five passengers and a pilot, the S-6000Bs had fully enclosed cockpits, roll-down windows (since the plane’s maximum speed was 90 mph) and handholds instead of seat belts. Over the years, Delta has operated

DC-2s to DC-10s and MD11s; plus Lockheed Vegas, Electras, Constellations and L1011s (among

others); Convair 340s, 440s and 880s; and Boeings, ranging from 727s to 777s. Today, Delta flies Boeing 737s, 747s, 757s, 767s and 777s. Meanwhile, the Northwest merger brought in A319s, A320-200s, and A330-200/300s. “The company’s technical

operations division has supported Delta for well over 70 years,” Turnbill says. “But back in the late 1990s, we could see the changes that were coming to the MRO industry. “Like many carriers, we debated

how best to move forward as a maintenance division,” Turnbill adds. “We knew we had excellent facilities, broad capabilities and a flexible and competitive workforce that was eager to grow the business – all the key elements to be successful as an MRO provider.” Therefore, turning the division into

Delta TechOps – an MRO that services other carriers’ aircraft, as well as Delta’s fleet – made sense. The result: What had been a cost center for the company became a revenue producer.

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Aviation Maintenance | avmain-mag.com | April/May 2010

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