Engine-Uity Reigns at American’s Tulsa Maintenance Base

Mar 11, 2024 10:35 AM ET

With thousands of parts, many moving at extremely high speeds in an extremely hot environment, modern turbofan engines are a miracle of engineering. But after thousands of arrivals, departures and flight hours, heavy maintenance is required to keep fan blades spinning and customers and team members moving safely in the air. That’s where American’s Base Maintenance facility in Tulsa, Oklahoma, comes in.

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Located in the geographic center of the mainland United States, American’s Tech Ops – Tulsa maintenance base has been the backbone of American’s maintenance, repair and overhaul work since 1946. It’s the world’s largest commercial aircraft maintenance base, employing nearly 5,000 team members, including more than 3,200 licensed aviation maintenance technicians and overhaul support mechanics. Each year, more than 800 of the airline’s aircraft visit the base, where the team works around the clock to maintain everything from seats to avionics and complete regularly scheduled maintenance work.

Tucked away in a non-descript building in the middle of the 246-acre base is American’s engine shop, known as American Airlines Engine Repair Overhaul or AAERO. The AAERO team is the best in the business when it comes to overhauling an engine, which means taking it apart completely and rebuilding it. Engines typically require an overhaul after 20,000 flight hours or 7,000 takeoffs and landings. This year, American’s engine shop is on track to increase engine overhaul throughput by nearly 60% over last year, or 150 engines annually, outperforming industry peers by a wide margin. That means fewer aircraft out of service and an even more reliable operation.

“The most important thing to me is the passenger, “said Kevin Harris, Technical Crew Chief for the CFM56 engine, which powers a majority of American’s Boeing 737 and Airbus 320 family aircraft. “Their safety is our number one goal. That engine, to me, is at the heart of keeping them safe.”

The Tech Ops – Tulsa facility was recently awarded $22 million from the State of Oklahoma to make enhancements at the base. The funds are in addition to a $31.6 million engine shop capital investment and ongoing $350 million improvement project made by American. As a result of these investments and added throughput, American is in the process of adding more than 300 new jobs a Tech Ops – Tulsa.