Air Transport World

AA Tulsa maintenance base prepares for 525-plane fleet. (American Airlines)

AA Tulsa maintenance base prepares for 525-plane fleet

By the time the year 1991 rolls around American Airlines will be operating a fleet of more than 525 aircraft. Unless United Airlines comes through with a massive new order or Texas Air Corporation Chairman Frank Lorenzo gobbles up a couple more large airlines in the interim, AA's fleet should be the largest in the free world.

To keep this fleet airworthy and mechanically efficient, American has embarked on a nearly $200-million facilities expansion upgrading program here at its main maintenance base in Tulsa, Okla. Of this, $72.5 million was committed in May 1986, and an additional $128 million in November as the carrier's plans for the next half-decade jelled. When the expansion is complete in the next two or three years, the base will have docking positions for 17 aircraft, compared with the current 12, and will be able to overhaul 900 engines a year, compared with 650 now.

The Tulsa maintenance and engineering work force will also increase substantially. Tulsa nearly doubled its maintenance and engineering (M&E) staff, adding about 2,000 additional M&E employes in the last two years, bringing the present total to 4,100, and it will get another 300 in 1987, and about 100 a year thereafter, reaching a Tulsa total of 4,900 by the end of 1991. Total M&E employment, including personnel at line stations, will grow from 7,800 to 8,200. The current staffing of about 2,450 at line stations will increase slightly.

The relatively small projected increase in manpower compared to the large increase in production is ascribed to the large influx of new aircraft, which require comparatively little heavy maintenance attention during their early years.

The expension in facilities and manpower is obviously necessary to handle the increased work load as the fleet grows to about 1 1/2 times its present size of close to 330 aircraft. But there is more to it than just fleet growth. Following the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) audit of American's maintenance operations in the summer of 1985, which resulted in a then-record penalty of $1.5 million, the airline conducted its own audit, assisted by the Dixon Speas consulting firm. …

Log in to your account to read this article – and millions more.