United Airlines opened a new widebody aircraft hangar at Washington Dulles International airport today, as it focuses on improving reliability and quality for customers.
The 11,613 square metre (125,000 square foot) facility will focus on A checks for the Chicago-based carrier’s Boeing 767-300ER and Boeing 777-200 fleets, says Joseph Ferreira, vice-president of line maintenance at United, at an event at the airport.
The 767 and 777 make up the bulk of United’s widebody operations from Dulles.
Ferreira adds that the hangar will be able to handle routine line maintenance on the airline’s entire fleet, including engine repairs, cowlings, modification work and interior enhancement.
“One of the things we’ve realised here at Dulles, it’s not conducive to do maintenance outside with a flashlight,” he says. “It’s much nicer to be inside where you can see what you’re working on and fix it right the first time.”
The carrier did not have a hangar at the airport previously.
United aims to improve reliability and fleet productivity with the new facility.
“Importantly with this hangar, the inventory alone that we’re bringing into this facility will drive huge increases in our own efficiency, which means fewer maintenance events [and] less span in the aircraft out of service time,” says Jeff Smisek, chairman, president and chief executive of United, at the event. “That drives directly to our customers and serving our customers better.”
Operational reliability is a focus for United. It suffered from dismal performance, some of which it attributed to maintenance issues with the United legacy fleet, during the third quarter of 2012. Performance has since returned to normal but revenue and cost metrics have lagged.
The carrier announced a $2 billion cost cutting programme in response to the poor financial metrics on 19 November. These include $100 million in maintenance savings through implementing lean practices and $500 million in further companywide productivity improvements during the next four years.
The hangar represents a continued investment in Dulles by United.
“It’s built for future growth,” says James Hammer, the airline’s managing director for line maintenance at Dulles and Cleveland Hopkins International airport.
The facility is designed for the Airbus A350-1000, which is 10.6m longer than the 63.7m 777-200, and the 68m Boeing 787-10. It can accommodate two widebodies, including the Boeing 747-400, at once or up to eight Boeing 737s, estimates Hammer when asked.
The hangar will open during the week of 25 November with the first 777 scheduled for an A check coming in on 8 December, says Ferreira.
United broke ground on the hangar in October 2012.