When most of us think of Delta, we likely envision a successful commercial airline. While that is an important aspect of the business, it isn’t the only part. You may be surprised to learn that Delta’s Technical Operations division is the largest aviation Maintenance Repair Overhaul (MRO) group in North America. Delta TechOps was established in the 1960s with MRO-style work beginning in the early 90s. It currently provides full-service maintenance to more than 850 Delta aircraft and services 150 other customers such as: commercial airlines, cargo operators, and military air platforms.
“We are always looking for the opportunity to identify new technologies to bring into our MRO toolbox as we service our Delta fleet as well as our other MRO customers,” says Jeff Peiter, Manager, Operations Support Engineering for Delta TechOps.
Engine service is a big part of Delta TechOps MRO business with at least 50% of the airline’s work coming from third-party customers. The Delta team’s commitment to finding ways to improve engine efficiency and reliability while reducing costs is evident by their interest in learning more about innovative technologies and then evaluating whether they enhance the Delta TechOps organization.
As the DoD puts a priority on collaborating with industry on maintenance technology, Delta TechOps has become an important partner.
“Delta is also working with the DoD to provide commercial best practices to maximize their efficiencies, working together to improve aircraft reliability and availability across the entire enterprise,” said Kurt Vogel (ret. Brigadier General), General Manager, Military and Government Programs, in a recent Delta article.
Delta also employs approximately 3,000 members of the Armed Forces and 10,000 veterans, with 75% being hired by Delta TechOps.
Among its current military customers, Delta TechOps is providing airframe and engine maintenance for the U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon fleet and is developing relationships with other services that they hope to bring to fruition this year.
“We expect to grow the top line of the MRO business by $1 billion a year in the next five years through expanded capabilities and new facilities,” said Delta, in an article on its recent MRO investments.
Peiter credits Delta’s NCMS membership to introducing Delta TechOps to DoD contacts they otherwise would not have had. He is also excited to learn about maintenance and sustainment technologies through CTMA projects and events that could assist Delta TechOps technicians in their responsibilities.
Some of the technologies that Delta TechOps is currently focusing on are:
- Structural health monitoring—looking for the ability to inspect difficult-to-access spaces
- Engine blade coating—prevention of erosion due to particulate and water ingestion
- Drones—inspection assistance
- Wiring issues—opportunity to discover and correct wiring issues proactively
“We are always looking for new technologies and processes to incorporate into our MRO organization,” says Peiter. “If there is a problem that needs to be solved, we look for strategic partners to help us in solving that problem. By doing so it is a win-win for both Delta and our partners.”