For roughly 90 years, Delta Air Lines has been flying passengers all over the world. Led by CEO Richard Anderson, Delta isn’t only flying; they are thriving in a financially unstable airline industry. With more than 5,400 daily flights, 722 mainline aircraft, and nearly 80,000 employees, the airline is one of the biggest in the world. I received the amazing opportunity to tour Delta’s main facilities in Atlanta, Georgia, the airlines headquarters and “home.”
The day at Delta started with a look inside their Operations and Customer Center (OCC) at the company’s massive headquarters. For being one of the biggest airlines in the world, surprisingly, the operations center was very quiet and calm. The folks inside O.C.C. told us that it is usually quite calm, even during situations like Hurricane Sandy. Inside O.C.C., you will find everything from meteorologists to Boeing and Airbus specialists. Delta’s Operations and Customer Center is simply the heartbeat of the massive company. At every moment, the employees at O.C.C. are in close contact with people within the airline to ensure efficiency.
After looking inside O.C.C., I headed over to Delta’s main ramp tower at ATL. There, I got a spectacular perspective of how the airport operates. The ramp tower is also very calm and quiet; the controllers tell aircraft when to push and switch them to FAA ground. Seems simple, right? Not really. The ramp tower is also responsible for making sure emergency personnel are ready for a medical emergency. They are also there to switch flight equipment during a mechanical issue with an aircraft. The main tower team also wants to make sure that there is a gate available for every flight.
Along with my amazing tour guides, I took the scenic way down. It required a lot of walking, but it was worth it. While descending from the tower, I had a 360 degree view of ATL’s massive domestic concourses. As soon as I reached ground level, I asked the Delta folks if they could bring me up close to a Delta 747. It has always been a personal dream to get up close to a 747, especially one that belongs to Delta, given their rich legacy. My guides did not hesitate, helping me to check off another thing on my AvGeek bucket list. We drove over to the new international terminal where I had the opportunity to see the massive aircraft up close.
We left the Tokyo bound 747 (registered as N662US) and toured Delta’s bustling ramps. At ATL, engineers have designed the aircraft tugs to push the aircraft at an angle so that the whole alley (An alley is where the aircraft park in between terminals) can be cleared at once, if needed. This was designed to avoid ramp delays and to efficiently move aircraft to the airfield for an on-time departure. If you are lucky, Delta could pick you up at your gate in one of their many Porsches if you need to make a quick connection.
Later that day, my tour guides and I headed over to one of the biggest buildings in the world by volume: Delta’s TechOps. Within the massive TechOps building, you will find widebody and narrowbody aircraft hangars, an extensive engine shop, an engine test room, and a room that repairs the smaller things such as avionics. While the vast majority of aircraft and parts within Delta TechOps belong to Delta, there are also parts from other airlines. You can see everything from a MD-11 engine to a Boeing Business Jet.
The engine shop is the most extensive part of TechOps. In the engine shop, teams test engines, fix engines, replace engines, and clean the smallest of engine parts. The team at TechOps is capable of repairing any of Delta’s engines except the massive GE90. Instead of repairing it in Atlanta, they send it to General Electric, its manufacturer, to be repaired.
As mentioned previously, Delta’s TechOps also has two hangars for narrowbody and widebody aircraft. They can house everything from 737s to 747s in the hangars. As a matter of fact, almost everyday Delta has at least one 747 in TechOps for inspection. TechOps also boosts smaller shops where smaller parts such as landing gear, flaps, etc. are repaired.In conclusion, Delta Air Lines is thriving. This year, they had the least cancellations of any airline. They also have a reputation for good and consistent customer service. I would like to personally thank Delta for the spectacular opportunity to tour their facilities in Atlanta.
To view the full set of photos, fly on over to Flickr.
He has about two hours of flying "under his belt" and he has a collection of 40 plus airplane models, plus airline memorabilia, collectibles and hundreds of aviation photos. Now, Ryan mainly writes articles and collects avgeek stuff. He's had his head in the clouds for more than 16 years and will always look up when he hears a jet roar. In addition to writing and editing for AirlineGeeks, he volunteers as a Travelers Aid at Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C.