Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

American Airlines' Maintenance Hub in Tulsa Moves toward Profitability with Vision 2025 Funds

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

American Airlines' Maintenance Hub in Tulsa Moves toward Profitability with Vision 2025 Funds

Article excerpt

American Airlines officials said the $22 million in Vision 2025 funds approved by voters has allowed the company's maintenance, repair and overhaul center in Tulsa to move toward the long-term goal of becoming a profit center and ensuring the base remains viable.

The money allowed American to buy machines, tooling and test equipment that only original-equipment manufacturers possessed. Previously, the Chicago-based airline was forced to send the work to the manufacturers.

American has won maintenance and engineering work from several outside companies, including Synergy Aerospace for F100 aircraft; Aeroserve, for JT8 engine work; GE Aviation Materials, for work on CF6-80 engines; Omni Air International and Vulcan Flight Management for work on Boeing 757 aircraft; and Aero Union for work on A300 landing gear.

Now, other operators have an alternative, as the (original manufacturer) is no longer the single pair source, said Steve Glime, manager of production support for American's overhaul center.

The Tulsa MRO center is American's worldwide headquarters for maintenance and engineering. It is the largest of American's overhaul bases and the world's largest maintenance facility.

The 300-acre maintenance center in Tulsa employs about 8,000 people. The airline spends $72 million a year for goods and services with local vendors and has an estimated $2.6 billion impact on the region's economy.

Maintenance work is done here on American's fleet of MD-80, Boeing 757 and Airbus A300 aircraft, as well as overhaul work on the Pratt & Whitney JT-8 and GE CF6-80 engines. The base is also home to a wheel-and-brake overhaul facility and composite repair center.

In recent years, major airlines like United, Northwest and U.S. Airways have been closing some of their maintenance bases and outsourcing the work. Some unions in the repair shops have also been challenged for the right of airlines to outsource work.

But American's unionized employees agreed to some $1.7 million in pay and benefit reductions and productivity improvements to keep the airline from bankruptcy. The Tulsa MRO center, one of Oklahoma's largest private employers, also vowed to become as productive as private overhaul shops and turn the facility into a profit center.

The Vision 2025 funds were made available when American pledged to consolidate all of its Boeing 737 heavy maintenance work in Tulsa, as well as move its major General Electric CFM-56 engine work to the city. …

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