ATS Reinstates Some Furloughed Employees, Consolidates Component Repair Near DFW

ATS has reinstated 54 furloughed employees over the past four months to aid efforts such as 737 Max post-production work.
Credit: ATS

U.S. carriers have recovered significant capacity since the May trough, and the recovery is starting to feed through to independent MROs. But the capacity recovery is still partial and cautious, and MROs must focus on a very lean and efficient response. ATS is doing just that.

President of Airframe Services Paul Dolan says ATS has seen a slight recovery in heavy maintenance activity with additional checks on its schedule and increasing requests for bids on future activity. “We have also seen a reduction in stored or parked aircraft, which translates to more aircraft in the air.” ATS currently has 46 aircraft in storage, a significant decrease from a few months ago.

To get through the virus crisis, the MRO had to lay off or furlough a substantial portion of its workforce. It was able to retain approximately 940 of 1,340 total employees, with approximately 100 employees remaining on furlough.

Fortunately, during the last four months, ATS has reinstated 54 furloughed employees. These workers were brought back to support several needs: Boeing 737 MAX post-production upgrades; maintenance jobs on charter and cargo aircraft; and a few management positions.

The reinstatements occurred in all three states where ATS operates, Missouri, Texas and Washington. “We continue to evaluate business requirements in hopes of returning additional furloughed employees,” Dolan says.

On the efficiency front, ATS recently announced plans to relocate three component repair stations in the Dallas/Fort Worth into an existing component repair location near DFW Airport. Dolan says the shift will help with performance, quality and buying power in materials, plus “many other benefits from operating out of a single, modern site.”

ATS units Aviation Industry Repair, American Cooler Service and Texas Pneumatic Systems will relocate to a location that upgraded its office space in 2019 and will now redesign shop floor areas with customized work cells to streamline production and improve the work environment.

The move into this new ATS DFW Center of Excellence should be completed by February 2022. ATS promises customers quicker response times on quotes and inventory availability and more solution options through its Ranger Air component sales team.

Brian Olsen, president of component and engineering solutions at ATS, says the modern facility, updated electronic tools, and point-of-use tooling will increase the value ATS offers its customers.

Olsen says a thorough feasibility study outlined the efficiency gains of the new Center of Excellence.
“Component product families will each have a work cell designed for efficiency and flexibility,” Olsen explains. “These cells will better accommodate workforce needs, improve flow of materials, include point-of-use tooling and allow for immediate information and feedback, all leading to reduced span times and consistent high quality.”

Each component repair work cell will be designed to adapt to volume changes and thus have fewer hard -built monuments or difficult-to-move stations. The cells will also either provide for or be dedicated to new capability development. 

“Customers will enjoy the simplicity of having one ATS Dallas/Fort Worth location to send units requiring component repair,” Olsen stresses. The center will support product families including accessories, composites, electrical and fuel components, flight control surfaces, hydraulics, pneumatics and structures.  

In addition, ATS component customers will deal seamlessly with one ERP system across all ATS component repair sites. This is the advantage that will lead to quicker response times on quotes and inventory availability.

“Additionally, reduced span times will be realized due to in-house machine shop capabilities, optimized product flow, the cross training of mechanics and focused leadership utilizing one quality system,” Olsen says.

ATS will be able to offer more solution options or bundles of solutions because it is also co-locating its Ranger Asset Management leadership and sales teams for components at a single site. “Customers will be able to quickly evaluate component repair options versus purchasing parts through our Ranger component sales division, which has stocked and traded parts for virtually every commercial airframe and engine platform in the world,” Olsen says.

These component teams will also work closely with ATS’s Engineering Solutions division, thus accessing possible STCs and PMAs.   

Furthermore, consolidating component repair and rotable capabilities near DFW allows ATS to consider offering additional capabilities in the area, such as thrust reverser repair. “We currently offer this capability in our Everett, WA, component repair location so possess the skill and technical aptitude,” Olsen notes. 

In summary, while ATS already offers customers bundled solutions, the new Center will enable it to do so more efficiently and effectively through closer collaboration and use of the same digital tools.