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Why Did UA Close IND And Keep SFO Mtc?  
User currently onlineGSP psgr From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 180 posts, RR: 0
Posted (4 years 8 months 3 weeks 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 6604 times:

Quick question-why did United decide to close their Indianapolis maintenance base while deciding to hold onto the one in San Francisco. One would have to assume that costs would be lower in Indianapolis versus the San Francisco metro area, which is among the most expensive in the nation. Additionally, IND would appear to be more centrally located for United; close to Chicago and Washington, and not too far from Denver. It's only an inconvenience for the California operations.

I assume there's something I'm overlooking here, but I'm not sure what it is.

I'd argue that there were at least three cities that got royally screwed over by airlines abusing bankruptcy laws:

Pittsburgh (the $800 million hub terminal for US Airways)
Indianapolis ($600 million United Mtc Center)
Duluth (Northwest Airlines Mtc Center)

25 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlinechepos From Puerto Rico, joined Dec 2000, 6236 posts, RR: 11
Reply 1, posted (4 years 8 months 3 weeks 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 6475 times:

SFO is a UAL hub, it's the main base for transpacific operations, while IND is just an out station. Much more aircraft passing regularly through SFO for UAL than IND. In my opinion, keeping IND open as a mtc base does not make a whole lot of sense.

Regards,

Chepos



Fly the Flag!!!!
User currently offlinemilesrich From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 2012 posts, RR: 6
Reply 2, posted (4 years 8 months 3 weeks 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 6433 times:

SFO is a UAL hub, it's the main base for transpacific operations, while IND is just an out station. Much more aircraft passing regularly through SFO for UAL than IND. In my opinion, keeping IND open as a mtc base does not make a whole lot of sense.

Perhaps, also, UA puts some value in experienced workers. Their maintanence base has been at SFO for 60+ years. When they acquired Capital, the Viscount maintenance was done at DCA, but even the Caravelles were flown out to SFO for major maintenance, even though they never operated scheduled service west of OMA. Opening the IND maintenance base was probably the thing that didn't make much sense.


User currently offlineAeroflot777 From Russia, joined Mar 2004, 3015 posts, RR: 26
Reply 3, posted (4 years 8 months 3 weeks 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 6369 times:

SFO vs. IND?

Simple explanation. SFO is a UA hub.

Aeroflot777


User currently offlinebigGSFO From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 2952 posts, RR: 6
Reply 4, posted (4 years 8 months 3 weeks 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 6341 times:

I am sure politics were at play too. San Francisco, San Mateo County, the State of California would have done all they could to keep the SFO center open.

User currently offlineLAXintl From United States of America, joined May 2000, 26175 posts, RR: 50
Reply 5, posted (4 years 8 months 3 weeks 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 6287 times:

Well United keep shopping the San Francisco maintenance base around, so at some point I expect it to be vacated.

Also another thing to remember is that the IND facility while very modern was designed for narrowbodies, while SFO is more versatile.



From the desert to the sea, to all of Southern California
User currently offlinecommavia From United States of America, joined Apr 2005, 11983 posts, RR: 62
Reply 6, posted (4 years 8 months 3 weeks 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 6226 times:

Quoting LAXintl (Reply 5):
Well United keep shopping the San Francisco maintenance base around, so at some point I expect it to be vacated.

Two questions:

1. I know AA recently announced downgrading the SFO maintenance base (where they share the bay with United). Given that, and if - hypothetically - United also closes their base, where does that leave the airport? Does the airport charge an exorbitant amount in rent to AA/United for that space?

2. What work does United still perform in SFO? All their overhauls are outsourced, if I'm not mistaken - so if they got rid of SFO, what work would they still need and where would they shift it to?


User currently offlineLAXintl From United States of America, joined May 2000, 26175 posts, RR: 50
Reply 7, posted (4 years 8 months 3 weeks 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 6153 times:

I suppose the fate of the facility will depend on if someone buys it out from United, or UA simply walks away eventually.
I'm sure the lease and operating cost of the family are not cheap being in San Francisco, one of the single most expensive labor and real estate markets in the country.

Today SFO does a mixed bag of work -- from some C checks, to cabin refits (Ted to mainline and about 2/3 of the upcoming 777 IPTE work). The big revenue generator is the engine and landing gear shop. UA does lots of 3rd party PW2000 and PW4000 overhaul work including the USAF C-17s.
However from what I gather the facility and tooling is aging and needs lots of investment if UA is going to stay long term. In the last year or so, many support departments like engineering and maintenance control have been moved out and located back in Chicago.

Also don't forget UA had large maintenance operation across the bay in Oakland which was the primary widebody overhaul facility but abandoned after 9/11 along with IND.



From the desert to the sea, to all of Southern California
User currently offlineIndy From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 4596 posts, RR: 18
Reply 8, posted (4 years 8 months 3 weeks 2 days 11 hours ago) and read 5986 times:

Quoting LAXintl (Reply 5):
Also another thing to remember is that the IND facility while very modern was designed for narrowbodies, while SFO is more versatile.

Actually IND had widebody support as well. I remember seeing a UA DC10 come in one day empty and taxi over to the maintenance center. To me the real issue with UA at IND is that they had to fly in empty jets for maintenance. They couldn't simply swap equipment out at a hub.



Indy = Indianapolis and not Independence Air
User currently offlineTZTriStar500 From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 1460 posts, RR: 9
Reply 9, posted (4 years 8 months 3 weeks 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 5854 times:

What is missing from this discussion is that the IMC (Indianapolis Maintenance Center) as was called by UA that you see today was completed and provisioned (all tooling, machinery, computers, office equipment, etc. was furnished) with Indiana, Indianapolis, and surrounding county bonds and tax payer funds. However, it was not the entire plan that was supposed to occur.

The current facility has 6 hangars of two bays each in two legs, a large automated warehouse, and limited back shop capability as the plan was to perform most of that work in each hangar bay. This never worked as UA's bureaucratic M&E policies and procedures could not easily adapt to that change so the IMC never had enough back shop space or capability as that was largely in SFO. As UA moved more personnel to the IMC, it also lacked enough office space.

There was supposed to be a complete third leg to form a U of hangars with large back shops in the middle and a totally separate engine shop. When the bond/taxpayer funds ran out, UA was supposed to complete the rest with their own funds in the late 90's, but that never occurred obviously. Also, IND never really 'took-off' as a full fledged maintenance base as was never fully autonomous due to its short-comings, was treated as the step-child to SFO, and its real use was schizophrenic. It was originally intended for 737 work only, but then the 757 C check line came, then left, the 767 C check line came, then left, the 757 HMV line came and the 767 HMV line came as well, but then were outsourced to TIMCO. The A320 C check line came too, but also left. Only the 737 stayed the entire time the IMC was open.

In my opinion, it was and still is a great facility and no doubt was cheaper to operate than SFO including low to no inventory tax here in Indiana, but lacked the total facilities to stay as UA did not invest enough in it to make it self-sufficient and SFO still had all the capability. Also, it was mainly designed off a theory (minimal personnel that worked on everything in the same bay as the aircraft) that never meshed with UA's bureaucratic and cumbersome M&E policies which worked in SFO, but were clunky at the IMC (i.e. it was a good idea, but never worked well in reality).

Quoting GSP psgr (Thread starter):
I'd argue that there were at least three cities that got royally screwed over by airlines abusing bankruptcy laws:

While it is true that bankruptcy is used to cancel contracts and relinquish assets, that is what the current law allows so I'm not one to say that element is necessarily abused. In fact, in some cases I think airlines have not gone far enough in cost reduction while in there. What is abused in my opinion is the ease at which the current management are allowed to remain somewhat 'in charge' and given initial exclusivity at filing reorganization plans. This can essentially allow the same management to stay in place.

What is overlooked here are those communities willingness to so easily dole out taxpayer dollars to attract and build these facilities with expectations that they are 'iron-clad' and will never leave. This is arguably naive but highly short-term political and they almost always are left 'holding the bag' at the end.

Quoting chepos (Reply 1):
SFO is a UAL hub, it's the main base for transpacific operations, while IND is just an out station. Much more aircraft passing regularly through SFO for UAL than IND. In my opinion, keeping IND open as a mtc base does not make a whole lot of sense.
Quoting Aeroflot777 (Reply 3):
SFO vs. IND?

Simple explanation. SFO is a UA hub.

If this was the sole reason or even a significant one which it is not, then why hasn't AA left TUL?

Quoting milesrich (Reply 2):
Perhaps, also, UA puts some value in experienced workers. Their maintanence base has been at SFO for 60+ years.

This is not the reason either as a large portion of the initial and final IND UA employees where all ex-SFO.

Quoting LAXintl (Reply 5):
Also another thing to remember is that the IND facility while very modern was designed for narrowbodies, while SFO is more versatile.

True, but hangars 6 and 7 with two bays each where built for the 757 and 767 and hangar 6 can hold a DC-10.

Quoting Indy (Reply 8):
Actually IND had widebody support as well. I remember seeing a UA DC10 come in one day empty and taxi over to the maintenance center. To me the real issue with UA at IND is that they had to fly in empty jets for maintenance. They couldn't simply swap equipment out at a hub.
IND was used occasionally as a drop-in line station for other aircraft like the DC-10, but not often at all. I worked there for nearly 5 years and recall only once a Worldwide Cargo DC-10-30F show up for some minor line work. Since the base was primarily for the 737 fleet, those were often swapped out here from live flights. The only aircraft that regularly did fly in and out empty were the 757 and 767 when they were maintained there.

[Edited 2010-04-10 15:59:28]


35 years of American Trans Air/ATA Airlines, 1973-2008. A great little airline that will not be soon forgotten.
User currently offlineLAXintl From United States of America, joined May 2000, 26175 posts, RR: 50
Reply 10, posted (4 years 8 months 3 weeks 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 5820 times:

Quoting Indy (Reply 8):
Actually IND had widebody support as well. I remember seeing a UA DC10 come in one day empty and taxi over to the maintenance center.
Quoting TZTriStar500 (Reply 9):
True, but hangars 6 and 7 with two bays each where built for the 757 and 767 and hangar 6 can hold a DC-10.

United did briefly try 767 work at IND, however due to whatever reasons it was moved back to OAK in 2000 - which at the time was the widebody center.



From the desert to the sea, to all of Southern California
User currently offlineTZTriStar500 From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 1460 posts, RR: 9
Reply 11, posted (4 years 8 months 3 weeks 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 5798 times:

Quoting LAXintl (Reply 10):
United did briefly try 767 work at IND, however due to whatever reasons it was moved back to OAK in 2000 - which at the time was the widebody center.

Because the checks were horribly late and over budget. Also, UA union/management relationships where not so great then as well.



35 years of American Trans Air/ATA Airlines, 1973-2008. A great little airline that will not be soon forgotten.
User currently offlineIndy From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 4596 posts, RR: 18
Reply 12, posted (4 years 8 months 3 weeks 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 5783 times:

Quoting TZTriStar500 (Reply 9):

Good writeup on the facility. I tried to get a tour of that facility once but failed. That place has to be impressive on the inside.



Indy = Indianapolis and not Independence Air
User currently onlineBMI727 From United States of America, joined Feb 2009, 15845 posts, RR: 27
Reply 13, posted (4 years 8 months 3 weeks 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 5715 times:

Quoting TZTriStar500 (Reply 9):
The current facility has 6 hangars of two bays each in two legs, a large automated warehouse,

Looking at what I think is the facility on Google Earth, why are the two jetways there where the two legs meet? Is it for moving fittings on and off planes?



Why do Aerospace Engineering students have to turn things in on time?
User currently offlineIndy From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 4596 posts, RR: 18
Reply 14, posted (4 years 8 months 3 weeks 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 5715 times:

Quoting BMI727 (Reply 13):
Looking at what I think is the facility on Google Earth, why are the two jetways there where the two legs meet? Is it for moving fittings on and off planes?

Those no longer exist. They were removed a while back.



Indy = Indianapolis and not Independence Air
User currently offlineTZTriStar500 From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 1460 posts, RR: 9
Reply 15, posted (4 years 8 months 3 weeks 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 5351 times:

Quoting Indy (Reply 12):
Good writeup on the facility. I tried to get a tour of that facility once but failed. That place has to be impressive on the inside.

Thanks and yes, back in 96 when I joined UA it was nicer than any maintenance facility I had ever seen, very well appointed and architectural, not just fucntional. I likened it as similar to Terminal 1 at ORD.

Quoting BMI727 (Reply 13):
Looking at what I think is the facility on Google Earth, why are the two jetways there where the two legs meet? Is it for moving fittings on and off planes?

Yes, they were removed when AAR moved in. They were used by UA as an easy way to do minor maintenance either post or pre check without needing a ground stand or using up hangar space. Some of the post check test flights used them as well. Before I left UA, they were last used for pre-service mods on some brand new 767-300ERs that were delivered direct from PAE-IND. The adjacent hangar 3B was used mostly for drop-ins and mod lines so these assisted with that as well.



35 years of American Trans Air/ATA Airlines, 1973-2008. A great little airline that will not be soon forgotten.
User currently offlineSYfan100 From United States of America, joined May 2008, 590 posts, RR: 0
Reply 16, posted (4 years 8 months 3 weeks 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 5297 times:

One of the biggest things that saves a Airline money from the way I look at things. When it comes down to it in the overall end it would be easier to put a 747 in a bay at SFO for it's regular check then flying it to Indianapolis.
The 747 goes in for it's repair check and comes back out and is taken straight to the gate it needs to be at for it's next flight to wherever it might be in Asia or Australia.
You save money on fuel what it comes down to in the overall end.
When Northwest use to be around at MSP those planes were in and out nonstop in the hangars for their repair checks being MSP was one of their hubs.
Atlanta has Delta and AirTran. Dallas has American at one Airport and at the other Airport is Southwest with their hangars when you look at the whole picture with things in that city.
What do they all have in common? They all are hubs for those Airlines also.
Think of some of the money that is just saved on fuel costs with not having to fly a empty plane to those destinations for a routine check work. You just rotate it in and back out again when the check is all done.


User currently offlineLAXintl From United States of America, joined May 2000, 26175 posts, RR: 50
Reply 17, posted (4 years 8 months 3 weeks 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 5258 times:

Quoting SYfan100 (Reply 16):
What do they all have in common? They all are hubs for those Airlines also.

That concept might have worked at one time, however today with labor cost often being the largest component of maintenance cost, the $50+ inhouse labor rates in the US drive work away.

As an example United's 747 heavy checks work is done in Korea (soon China), where obviously the total cost even with long positioning flightsand time away makes it the effort worthwhile. And UA is by no means the only airline, I regularly see CO, DL and Fedex birds in places like Hong Kong and Singapore, while tons of narrowbodies by US, B6 and now SWA in El Salvador.

Today US airline hubs, are ever more simply only line maintenance stations then having the dual purpose of overhaul facilities also as in the past.



From the desert to the sea, to all of Southern California
User currently offlineUA777222 From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 3348 posts, RR: 11
Reply 18, posted (4 years 8 months 3 weeks 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 4546 times:

Quoting LAXintl (Reply 17):
I regularly see CO, DL and Fedex birds in places like Hong Kong and Singapore


Aren't all of COs wide-body aircraft sent to their Guam mx center for all heavy work and routed through HNL/HKG? If so, with the increased association to UA who shares a very common wide-body fleet, could UA outsource to CO to do heavy work on their 777s?



"It wasn't raining when Noah built the ark."
User currently offlineQantas744ER From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 1296 posts, RR: 4
Reply 19, posted (4 years 8 months 3 weeks 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 3820 times:

Part of the March 29, Ameco Beijing press release:

Quote:
Over the next five years, United's fleet of Boeing 747s along with the Boeing 777s will go to Ameco Beijing for heavy maintenance visits (HMV). Ameco Beijing will perform all HMVs including some cabin upgrades on the 777s as well as HMVs and C-checks on the 747s through 2015. Ameco Beijing will begin heavy maintenance work, starting this June on the Boeing 777 fleet and October on the Boeing 747 fleet.

Ameco is a JV between Air China and Lufthansa Technik



Happiness is V1 in Lagos
User currently offlineLAXintl From United States of America, joined May 2000, 26175 posts, RR: 50
Reply 20, posted (4 years 8 months 3 weeks 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 3484 times:

Quoting UA777222 (Reply 18):
Aren't all of COs wide-body aircraft sent to their Guam mx center for all heavy work and routed through HNL/HKG? If so, with the increased association to UA who shares a very common wide-body fleet, could UA outsource to CO to do heavy work on their 777s?

No CO farms out heavy work. Most of its widebodies are worked by HAECO in HKG.
CO really got out the heavy maintenance business in the 1990s.



From the desert to the sea, to all of Southern California
User currently offlineWard86IND From United States of America, joined Apr 2006, 295 posts, RR: 0
Reply 21, posted (4 years 8 months 3 weeks 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 3417 times:

I was lucky enough to get a tour of the facility back in '99. It truly was/is an amazing facility. Unfortunately even with AAR and Republic in there, it is still losing the airport millions of dollars annually, as it is vastly underutilized. I heard that people have to run around the building flushing toilets just to keep the plumbing working properly.


Live your dream.
User currently offlineSYfan100 From United States of America, joined May 2008, 590 posts, RR: 0
Reply 22, posted (4 years 8 months 3 weeks 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 2861 times:

Quoting LAXintl (Reply 17):

Now what about do many use Boeing for heavy work when it comes due? Or is the cost maybe more expensive?
Just thinking on the different various lines when it comes to Labor Costs. I wish I could make even $20 a hour!
One of the concerns though that I have with outsourced work overseas is that some of those countires are questionable at times. I do know there are some respectable places that do good repair work from what some members on the board have said in some other various posts.
Is there some sort of guidelines that this overseas repair place has to meet for standards when doing business with a Airline from the United States?
The reason why I ask is you don't want to have that 747 come back to the states and end up in a repair bay in San Francisco or Chicago for another 5 days because your very own mechanics are fixing close to critical mistakes.
Also then you lose revenue because that plane is grounded when it should be really flying again.


User currently offlineSlimShady From United States of America, joined Dec 2007, 202 posts, RR: 0
Reply 23, posted (4 years 8 months 3 weeks 1 day 4 hours ago) and read 2804 times:

Quote:
That concept might have worked at one time, however today with labor cost often being the largest component of maintenance cost, the $50+ inhouse labor rates in the US drive work away.

Yep! And that doesnt include benefits, insurance and several other cost drivers. Average cost to the airline for a mechanic who makes $30 per hour is about $100K per year. Unions & Management are partially to blame for driving pay & labor rates so high, therefore airlines were forced to make business decision to outsource to other countries.


User currently offlineSlimShady From United States of America, joined Dec 2007, 202 posts, RR: 0
Reply 24, posted (4 years 8 months 3 weeks 1 day 4 hours ago) and read 2759 times:

Plus, nobody mentioned the engine & landing gear shops in SFO. They overhaul the Pratts there.

The SFO base still amazes me. The Superbay plus the main facility sit on some of the most expensive real estate in the country. Some of those buildings have been there before WWII. Factor in operating costs, facilities maintenance, that has to be the most expensive maintenance base in the country. The machines in the shops are older than crap too. When I left there almost two years ago, they had old broken down machines, Mills, CMM's, and other expensive large tools just sitting there broken, because UA cant afford to fix them. Several hangar bays just sit there, empty except for storage. What a sad state for some of the most valuable land in the US.

After all the layoffs in the past 10+ years, the most junior mechanic has been there a really long time. Those types of folks arent cheap either.

I know many successful companies who would never allow such a seemingly bad business decision to continue. They would drop that facility like a bad habit and keep just enough to support the hub & operation.


User currently offlineLAXintl From United States of America, joined May 2000, 26175 posts, RR: 50
Reply 25, posted (4 years 8 months 3 weeks 1 day 4 hours ago) and read 2755 times:

Quoting SYfan100 (Reply 22):
Now what about do many use Boeing for heavy work when it comes due?

Aircraft manufacturers tend to avoid the the direct overhaul business. Frankly with their high labor cost, I doubt they would be any lower than carrier could do inhouse, and likely even higher.

What Airbus has and now Boeing is dipping its toes into with the 787 with preferred recommended network of MRO partners that it can bundle as part of sales campaigns for total care packages.

Quoting SYfan100 (Reply 22):
Is there some sort of guidelines that this overseas repair place has to meet for standards when doing business with a Airline from the United States?

Yes overseas shops doing work on US carriers need to be FAA approved. Also remember its up to airlines to also provide the QC oversight of vendors they use, as the FAA ultimately will hold them liable.



From the desert to the sea, to all of Southern California
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