Delta Air Lines is expanding the engine maintenance and overhaul capability of its Technical Operations (TechOps) division by branching out into the General Electric CF34 engine powering the Bombardier CRJ200/700 family regional jets. At the same time it is considering broadening its CFM International capabilities with the addition of the CFM56-5.

TechOps has secured CF34 contracts from Delta's two wholly owned Connection carriers Comair and Atlantic Southeast Airlines worth $1 billion over the next 10 years. The two airlines alone account for nearly 30% of the total CRJ market, operating 185 aircraft already and with plans to increase that to 277 aircraft. The airline hopes to be able to offer a full module breakdown and overhaul capability by 2004.

The Atlanta-based facility is eyeing other third-party operators of the 50/70-seat CRJ series as well as non-regional jet users of the CF34 engine. "We would like to compete for all of these engines, not just on regional jets, but on Challenger business aircraft and, subsequently, maybe military versions of the engine as well," says Ray Valeika, Delta senior vice-president, technical operations.

As TechOps drops older engines from its shop capabilities, such as the Pratt & Whitney JT8D-15, with the withdrawal of older Boeing 727s and 737-200s from the Delta fleet, it is looking for new opportunities. The company already services both the CFM56-3 and latest -7 engines, powering the second- and third-generation 737s respectively, and is eyeing the -5 variant of the engine family which powers Airbus A320s and A340-200/300s.

 "We've clearly got to look at this market. There is not a lot difference in the engines when you tear them down. We're getting rolling with the CFM56-7 and have already done a handful. We are peeking over the horizon at the -5," says Valeika.

Source: Flight International