Printed headline: Delta’s Renewal
“We’re just getting going,” said Delta Air Lines’ top executive at the grand opening of the company’s new 150,000-lb.-thrust test cell in February.
CEO Ed Bastian’s message is a nod to several of Delta’s initiatives—from the new test cell, the world’s largest, to its airline fleet renewal to investments in Delta TechOps intended to take it to $1 billion in annual revenue in a few years. It is about the transformation underway at Delta as it adds next-gen aircraft and engines to its own fleet—while leveraging that to add next-gen capabilities to its MRO division to take it into the future.
The $100 million test cell investment is a “vote of confidence in Delta TechOps,” doubling its previous 68,000-lb.-thrust capability maximum, and is built to accommodate engines not even designed yet, says Bastian. As a point of reference, the highest-thrust commercial engine, the GE90, which powers Delta’s Boeing 777-200LR fleet, produces 115,000 lb. thrust.
In addition to the test cell, in August 2018, Delta cut the ribbon for a 127,000-ft.2 engine shop—about the size of 2.5 football fields—that will accommodate the new Rolls-Royce XWB and Trent 7000 that power the airline’s fleet of Airbus A350s and A330-900neos. It inducted the first engine, a Trent 1000 from Virgin Atlantic, in October.
This engine shop and the 150,000-lb.-thrust test cell played an important role in Delta expanding into next-gen engine MRO capabilities and gaining 30-year contracts from Rolls-Royce and Pratt & Whitney for their latest engines in the Americas.
In late 2018, Delta become a Rolls-Royce authorized maintenance center for the Trent 1000, which is one of the engines powering the Boeing 787 and provides 53,000-75,000 lb. thrust; the Trent 7000, which powers the Airbus A330neo and delivers 68,000-72,000 lb. thrust; and the Trent XWB that powers the A350 and produces 75,000-97,000 lb. thrust. It also services the BR715 under the agreement.
Delta TechOps will also support Pratt & Whitney’s geared turbofan (GTF) engine family as part of the OEM’s MRO network and expects to repair or overhaul more than 5,000 GTFs. Delta Air Lines selected the PW1500G and PW1100G to power its Airbus A220s and its A321neos on order.
Another key piece of Delta’s engine aftermarket investments is its hot-section engine repair shop that will enable it to perform those repairs in-house—including coatings and brazings—which saves time and money, say its executives. It started with PW2000 capability first and is adding CFM56 capability next.
This all feeds into Delta TechOps’ goal of $1 billion in annual revenue “in the very near term,” says Jack Arehart, Delta TechOps president of MRO Services. In 2018, that figure was $700 million, and this year it is $800 million. Besides the additional revenue from its new engine shop and test cell, Arehart says TechOps is also increasing its repair capabilities for Airbus components. “For years, we’ve been able to do about 70% of Boeing components in-house, and we’re moving close to 50% of the components on Airbus, and we’ll keep growing that,” he says.