March 14, 2017 10:11 PM
AAR's hangar in Duluth isn't just at full capacity, it's also home to the first time certain repairs have been done in North America.
Mechanics are currently working on four different planes. One Airbus A320 came in for an inspection, and they found a crack in the window post in the cockpit.
Vice President of Operations for AAR Duluth Mark Ketterer said it's not surprising to find a crack like that in a 25-year-old plane, but it is a major repair.
"We could inspect 10 airplanes and not find this crack again," Ketterer explained. "It's really a feather in our cap in Duluth because it's never been done in North America before."
The fixes have been done in Europe, so AAR asked for help.
"We actually brought in a team from France, from the manufacturer of the jet, to help us tear it apart and put the new parts in," Ketterer said.
They will stay in Duluth for about five weeks until the project is finished.
"We can learn from them, and the next time this happens, we may not need to bring them in," Ketterer said.
Their presence has also allowed the Duluth-based employees to stay focused on the other three planes, which is a more typical workload.
"It's always fun to see us fill it up," Ketterer said. "We'd like to keep it that way, but we just don't have enough manpower for that fourth line of maintenance to continue."
In fact, Ketterer said AAR could take on many more than its current 375 employees.
"We could put on 40 A&P mechanics today if they came and knocked on the door," Ketterer said.
AAR also wants to make sure Lake Superior College's Aviation Maintenance Program stays full because it ensures both training and jobs stay local. And Ketterer said they need to keep hiring because the outlook on customers for the company is promising.
"We have a waiting list of people that actually want to come have their airplanes done here in Duluth because of our expertise," Ketterer said.
He said if the growth since the facility opened in 2012 is any indication, the next five years will be just as busy.
"I see no end in sight to how much work we could have here," Ketterer said.
Updated: March 14, 2017 10:11 PM
Created: March 14, 2017 05:31 PM
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