AAviationDay 2018: A Global Recap

N719AN, an American Boeing 777-300ER just in from Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Tom Pallini)

In what is widely regarding as the preeminent aviation event of the year, AirlineGeeks and American Airlines held the third annual AAviationDay on Friday to promote the beauty of aviation to adoring enthusiasts around the world. The yearly event is planned around National Aviation Day, a national observation day started by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to honor Orville Wright’s birthday on Aug. 19.

This exclusive behind the scenes look at the inner workings took place at 10 airports this year, including New York-JFK, New York-LGA, London-Heathrow, Miami, Phoenix Sky Harbor Los Angeles, Chicago-O’Hare, Washington-National, Charlotte and Philadelphia, as well as American’s headquarters in Dallas, American’s maintenance facility in Tulsa, and Envoy’s headquarters in Dallas.

“Our 130,000 team members take great pride in caring for more than 500,000 customers across the globe each day,” said Chairman and CEO Doug Parker. “We’re thrilled to showcase their important work for the third year in a row with a group of young enthusiasts whose passion for aviation may eventually lead them to careers with American.”

Here we break down the day’s events.

Heathrow Airport

AAviationDay began across the pond at London’s Heathrow Airport due to time zone differences with AirlineGeeks’ James Dinsdale guiding his group of participants through Terminal 3, where most oneworld carriers including American operate out of.

The first stop on the tour was the Flagship Lounge and Admirals Club in the departure level of Terminal 3 where the group received a tour and heard from the lounge’s manager and the airport operations VIP team. The group heard how the operations team looks after the airline’s most valuable customers when they have connecting flights through the terminal including meeting the aircraft and transferring the passenger to their next flight ramp side.

After the lounge tour, the group headed to the flight operations room where flight crews come to collect flight plans and look at the details of their upcoming flights. This is the first stop for pilots as the operations room gives them key details such as fuel information and weather along the route.

Following the visit to the flight operations room, the group headed to the ramp to see how American handles morning arrivals and learn about the baggage handling process. The group was then able to tour a Boeing 777-200, including the cabin and cockpit for photo opportunities. After touring the inside, the group headed down to the ramp to get photos from the outside, as well as photos of the surrounding aircraft and nearby runway and taxiways.

Just as they were wrapping up the tour of the Boeing 777-200, a nearby Airbus A330 was pushing back from the gate. As a special treat, one of the participants got to sit in the pushback tug to help tow the plane. While on the ramp, the participants saw numerous aircraft, including a British Airways A380 that taxied past.

One of the AAviationDay participants helping push back an Airbus A330. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | James Dinsdale)

After the ramp tour, it was time to head back inside for a trip to the NATS Air Traffic Control tower where controllers gave a brief presentation on the air traffic at the airport. Following the presentation, the group headed further up to the observation deck where there was unlimited visibility of the airport and surrounding area.

A brief presentation by NATS before heading up to the LHR control tower. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | James Dinsdale)

The group finished off the tour by having lunch in the Arrivals Lounge, a post-customs lounge where arriving premium passengers can shower and have breakfast before heading into the city, with American’s London Managing Director Rhett Workman, taking their group picture just outside the lounge entrance.

The London AAviationDay group at LHR Managing Director Rhett Workman (Photo: AirlineGeeks | James Dinsdale)

John F. Kennedy International Airport

As one of American’s main international gateways, JFK attendees were treated to numerous widebody aircraft, chief among them American’s flagship long-haul aircraft the Boeing 777-300ER. After briefly touring American’s Hangar 10 maintenance facility just south of its base at Terminal 8, passing numerous aircraft including the Boeing 757-200, Airbus A321T and Boeing 767-300, participants walked outside to see 3 Boeing 777 aircraft.

A Boeing 757-200 at American’s Hangar 10 at JFK. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Tom Pallini)
Triple Seven heaven at JFK. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Tom Pallini)

American had staged a Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, registration N719AN, for participants to tour. The aircraft had arrived from Brazil and was towed over to Hangar 10 for cleaning before operating the evening service to London as AA104. Lucky enough, AirlineGeeks’ JFK representative Tom Pallini had flown on that exact aircraft two months prior to London.

N719AN, an American Boeing 777-300ER just in from Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Tom Pallini)

Once in the aircraft, participants toured the four class configured aircraft’s interior, testing and taking pictures of the first, business and economy cabins, as well as American’s new premium economy product. A maintenance representative was also giving cockpit tours, as well as tours of the pilot and flight attendant rest areas and the avionics and cargo bay below the cabin.

Touring the cockpit of the Boeing 777-300ER. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Tom Pallini)

Following the tour of the Boeing 777-300ER, which operates to London and Sao Paulo, the group mad a brief pit stop to tour the Airbus A321T, which operates American’s flagship transcontinental service between New York and Los Angeles and San Francisco. The three class configured aircraft lent itself to pictures and cockpit tours as well.

Moving on towards American’s Terminal 8, participants got to see the newly-unveiled screening machines that American debuted at JFK last month. After that, it was a short trip to the ramp control tower where controllers monitor and coordinate the movement on the ramp. Participants saw an A321T bound for California push back, start-up and taxi across the ramp and a Boeing 777-200 taxi into its gate from the viewing platform on top of the tower.

An American A321T taxiing out for a flight to California. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Tom Pallini)

After touring the tower, it was time to eat. American granted the tour access to its Flagship Lounge, accessible to international and transcontinental premium class passengers. A hot food buffet was available for lunch and participants were able to look out onto the ramp while enjoying their meals. When lunch was over, the last stop was a group picture in front of a model American Airlines A300 in the terminal.

The JFK group posing in front of an American A300 model in Terminal 8. (Photo: American Airlines | Justin Franco)

LaGuardia Airport

On the other side of town from JFK, AirlineGeeks’ William Derrickson was showing participants around LaGuardia airport. The first stop on the tour was American’s maintenance hangars that line the southwestern area of the airport adjacent to the Central Terminal Building (CTB). The hangars were built in 1939 and are still used today for maintenance on such aircraft including the Boeing 737, Airbus A319, Airbus A320 and Airbus A321.

Touring the American maintenance hangars at LGA. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

On the ramp adjacent to the maintenance hangars, away from the CTB was a special treat for participants, the Astrojet, one of American’s Boeing 737-800s painted in a retro livery. The LGA crew spent 2 hours on the ramp taking pictures and touring the Astrojet. As a special treat, an American 737 captain was on hand to answer questions and show off the aircraft.

The LGA group posing for a photo in front of the Boeing 737 Astrojet. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

Following the aircraft tour and Q&A with the captain, participants were provided with a boxed lunch to eat in the hangars with an unobstructed view of the Astrojet and the rest of the airline traffic at LaGuardia. Numerous aircraft arriving and departing the field allowed for a unique planespotting experience for the participants.

After lunch, it was time to head into the terminal, or just above it to the ramp control tower. Here, the group learned about ramp operations and how controllers deal with LaGuardia’s tight alleyways. The ramp control tower visit also included a trip to its observation deck for unencumbered views of the terminal below, the ramp, taxiways and runways.

The LGA group posing for a photo in front of the New York skyline. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

To finish off the tour, the group headed to American’s LaGuardia operations center for a brief tour to learn about how employees manage traffic in and out of the airport. Before parting ways, American gave each participant a generous swag bag filled with American-branded trinkets such as pens, stickers and luggage tags, as well as safety cards from the aircraft that frequently visit LaGuardia.

Charlotte Douglas International Airport

AirlineGeeks’ Ian McMurty headed the tour of Charlotte airport, one of the hubs American acquired from US Airways after the two merged in 2015, which began with a visit to the American Airlines operations tower that sits in between Concourses C and D. From there, American employees manage both the mainline and regional traffic that flows through the ever-busy airport.

American’s ramp control tower at Charlotte Douglas International Airport. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Ian McMurty)

Following a tour of the inside of the tower and speaking to employees, the Charlotte group headed outside to the tower’s observation deck. Here, participants had an unobstructed view of the ramp below and the arriving and departing traffic from the airport’s 3 main runways. Looking down below, an American A319 painted in the retro PSA livery was parked at the gate.

An AvGeek planespotting from CLT’s ramp control tower observation deck. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Ian McMurty)

Heading back into the terminal, the group headed over to Concourse D to get up close and personal with American’s Airbus family of aircraft including the A319, A320 and A321. Participants were given ramp access to get pictures and selfies with the aircraft as they sat at their respective gates.

The CLT group posing in front of an American A321. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Ian McMurty)

Following the tour of Concourse D, it was time for lunch in one of the airport’s conference rooms. American catered sandwiches from Panera Bread and offered the opportunity to ask questions of various airline representatives on hand.

After lunch, it was time to head to the training and maintenance side of the Charlotte operation. The group visited the crew training center and simulator facility. This is where American trains its pilots on aircraft-specific simulators to get type ratings and do recurrent training. Participants were given access to the Airbus A320 full-motion simulator.

Next up was the line and heavy maintenance hangar and the parts storage facility where American’s mechanics work daily on the airline’s aircraft to ensure they’re in tip top condition to carry passengers. In the hangars, the group saw more Airbus A321 aircraft and an Airbus A330, which flies routes such as Charlotte to London, Munich and Paris, resting outside the hangar.

The CLT group photo in front of an aircraft engine. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Ian McMurty)

Following the tour of the maintenance operation, American drove the group around the airport in the Cadillacs used to ferry passengers with the airline’s highest elite status. The group got to see Charlotte rampside one last time from the comfort of air-conditioned cars before heading back to the terminal.

The tour concluded with a visit to the Admirals Club at Charlotte where participants were invited to stay if they were catching flights out of Charlotte later that day.

Chicago O’Hare International Airport

At one of American’s largest hubs, Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, the group started the day visiting the airport’s former FAA tower, now home to the Chicago Department of Aviation, which offers 360-degree views of the entire airfield. The centrally located terminal sits in the middle of each of the terminals, except for the international Terminal 5, and is now used by Airside Ops as its base.

Descending from the tower, the group – led by AirlineGeeks’ Mateen Kontoravdis – headed towards the secure side of the airport. The first stop post-security was American’s hub control center where employees control all of the traffic arriving and departing from Chicago. After seeing the operation and talking to employees, the group headed up on the roof of Terminal 3 to do some plane spotting and take their group photo.

The first group photo on top of Terminal 3 for the ORD group. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Mateen Kontoravdis)

Afterward, the participants got to see the inside of the bustling Admirals Club and Flagship Lounge, open to first and business class travelers flying internationally on American. The lounge features a movie room and showers, as well as a hot buffet where the group had lunch with views of American’s two terminals at O’Hare.

After lunch, it was time to see some aircraft. As Chicago is a base for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, one of American’s new additions, the group was able to hop onboard a 787-8 while it was at the gate preparing for a flight to Rome. Participants were able to take pictures of and tour the cabin and cockpit of the aircraft and test out American’s business and new premium economy product, as well as play with the window dimmers.

For an exterior view of the aircraft, the group headed down to the ramp and were able to take pictures of the 787 they had just been on, as well as see another 787 pushing back for Tokyo. Walking down to the edge of the terminal, the group had another opportunity to plane spot, but this time from the ramp.

Following the ramp tour, the group headed back inside to finish the day with a group photo inside O’Hare’s iconic Terminal 3 flag hall, made famous by Home Alone 2: Alone in New York.

The ORD group’s second group photo in American’s iconic Terminal 3 flag hall. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Mateen Kontoravdis)

“It’s fantastic getting to see American’s employees sharing their passion and enthusiasm with avgeeks on AAviation Day, helping connect enthusiasts with their love for aviation and helping inspire the future generation of the industry,” said Kontoravidis, who represented AirlineGeeks in Chicago.

Miami International Airport

At American’s southernmost hub at Miami International Airport, AirlineGeeks’ Daniel Morley led his group who began their tour at American’s newly-renovated Flagship Lounge and Admirals Club. The timing for the tour worked out perfectly as the Admirals Club had just opened less than a week ago, making the tour one of the first to visit it.

The MIA group was among the first people to view the new Admirals Club at MIA. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Daniel Morley)

After touring the club, the group went down to tour a Boeing 777-300ER at the gate. Its flagship long-haul aircraft, American uses the 777-300ER on routes such as Miami to London, Buenos Aires and Sao Paulo in a four-class configuration including first, business, premium economy and economy. On the airplane, participants got to see the cockpit and test out the premium class seats.

A Boeing 777-300ER at the gate in Miami. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Daniel Morley)

Following the interior tour of the aircraft, the group headed down to the ramp to see the aircraft’s exterior and take pictures of it and surrounding aircraft. The ramp tour included numerous opportunities to see aircraft arriving and departing from the terminal and views of Miami’s three main runways.

To learn more about the ramp from the people who know best, the group headed up to the ramp control to talk to the ramp controllers that control aircraft going into and coming out of the ramp. The tower offered more photo opportunities from above the terminal for more planespotting.

After visiting the ramp control tower, it was time to tour the maintenance side of MIA. Touring one of the airline’s maintenance hangars, an American Airlines mechanic showed the group around and explained what kind of work that the mechanics do. Two Boeing 777-200s were present while the group was taking the tour, one for a standard check and the other for a problem with its WiFi antenna.

Additionally, a disassembled GE90 engine, the behometh of an engine that powers the Boeing 777s, was on display for participants to see the inner workings of an aircraft engine. For those unfamiliar with how complex jet engines work, American’s maintenance staff were there to explain and answer any questions the group had.

A GE 90 engine in American’s MIA maintenance hangar. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Daniel Morley)

Next was lunch for the group. Sitting in one of the hangars, American catered sandwiches for the group. While they were taking a nice break from walking, two American Airlines chief pilots joined the group and conducted a Q&A session to answer any questions the group had.

After lunch, the group was allowed to shop in American’s employee store to purchase anything that they wanted to remember the visit by.

Philadelphia International Airport

The Philadelphia group, led by AirlineGeeks’ Hemal Gosai, began their day meeting with American’s PHL executive staff and the chief pilot for a question and answer session regarding the hub, which American acquired in its merger with US Airways in 2015. After the session, the team headed up to the Admirals Club to meet with the airline’s VIP team that handles ConciergeKey and other high-value passengers.

Following the tour inside the terminal, the group headed to American’s maintenance hangar at PHL where most of the maintenance for aircraft based in Philadelphia is performed. The shop foreman was around to discuss what maintenance work goes on inside the hangar and answered any questions the group had about the inner workings of a maintenance facility.

Testing out the business class product on the Airbus A330. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Hemal Gosai)

Inside the hangar was an Airbus A330, formerly used by US Airways and used by American on routes from Philadelphia to London, Munich and Charlotte, which the group was able to tour and take pictures of. The aircraft is the largest one that American serves Philadelphia with as the airport hasn’t yet received regular Boeing 777 service from American.

The PHL group took their second group photo with the Airbus A330. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Hemal Gosai)

Adjacent to the maintenance hangar was the ground service equipment area. This is where all American’s ground service equipment, including pushback tugs, baggage conveyor belts and baggage carts are serviced. The shop foreman spoke to the group about the organizational processes that allow for smoother maintenance operations so that American’s ground service agents have the equipment they need.

Following the visit to the ground service equipment area, the group headed to Cargo City. In Cargo City, there’s a climate-controlled cargo center dedicated solely to pharmaceutical cargo that must be kept at a regulated temperature to maintain the effectiveness of the drugs.

One last group photo in American’s PHL offices. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Hemal Gosai)

The group concluded their tour of American’s Philadelphia hub with lunch at the executive offices where they started their day. Joining them for the meal was American’s executive staff at the airport.

Los Angeles International Airport

Out on the West Coast, the group touring American’s Los Angeles hub, led by AirlineGeeks’ Albert Kuan, started the day off by visiting American’s maintenance hangar. From the hangar, the group was able to see the departure of one of American’s brand-new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners that was bound for Tokyo following routine maintenance. After the 787 departed, the group saw a Boeing 737-800 up close in the hangar

A Boeing 787-9 departing for Tokyo. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Albert Kuan)

Following a bus ride across the field back to American’s Terminal 4, the group began their ramp tour in the alleyway between Terminal 4 and the Tom Bradley International Terminal. From the alleyway, the group was able to see both American aircraft and international aircraft atTBIT.

Underneath Terminal 4, the group toured the baggage processing area where baggage is sorted by flight number. The group then boarded an aircraft, but not via a jetbridge or airstairs. Instead, the group saw the inside of an aircraft’s cargo hold by walking up a baggage conveyer belt straight into the hold.

The other way to board an aircraft. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Albert Kuan)

Arising from the ramp, the group toured American’s crew check-in area, where arriving crews can drop off baggage and prepare for their flights ahead. The group then visited the ramp control tower where controllers manage the flow of aircraft into and out of Terminal 4, coordinating with adjacent terminals to do so. Just outside of the ramp control tower, the group was able to visit the observation deck where they took their group photo.

The LAX group taking their group photo above Terminal 4. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Albert Kuan)

Back in the terminal, the group toured American’s Flagship Lounge and Admirals Club, open to premium international passengers traveling to, from or through Los Angeles. At the Flagship Dining area, the group sampled locally-inspired bites from the summer menu created by the lounge’s executive chef.

The group ended the tour with a visit to the office area above Terminal 4 where a question and answer session was held with the Director of Customer Operations and Corporate Communications.

Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport

Despite the 96-degree reading on the thermometer, AirlineGeeks’ Ryan Ewing and participants at American’s Phoenix hub, acquired by American in its merger with US Airways, began their tour walking around American’s maintenance hangar on the east side of the airport. Inside the terminal, the group saw several aircraft, including the Airbus A320 family of aircraft based in Phoenix, and the composite and engine shops.

Following the maintenance hangar tour, the group was driven around the ramp for a tour of ramp operations and photo opportunities for the wide variety of American aircraft that visit Phoenix’s Terminal 4. Ascending from the ramp, the group toured the ramp control tower where employees showed participants how they control aircraft coming into and departing the numerous alleyways of Terminal 4.

Snow cones to beat the heat on a 96-degree day at PHX. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Ryan Ewing)

While on the ramp, the group was able to cool down with snow cones provided by American to help quell the high temperatures.

The PHX group posing for their photo in front of the Phoenix ATC tower. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Ryan Ewing)

“Thanks to our friends at American Airlines, many of our members will get a special, behind-the-scenes look at the fascinating world of commercial aviation,” said Ewing. “We’re looking forward to our third year in a row of learning more about the industry from American’s team members and building relationships with them.”

Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport

In the nation’s capital, AirlineGeeks’ Ben Suskind and his group toured American’s Washington, D.C. hub, also acquired in the merger with US Airways, starting with the airline’s Boeing 737-800, a frequent visitor to Washington. Touring the 737, the group was able to take pictures of and test out both classes of service, as well as check in on the cockpit.

Following the aircraft tour, the group headed to the Admirals Club where Brian Kalish of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority talked about Project Journey and the expansion plan for Reagan National Airport. Parts of the aircraft are currently under construction which will eventually lead to a new terminal to replace ramp boarding while improving the customer experience.

Touring American’s DCA operations center. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Ben Suskind)

Descending from the Admirals Club, the group moved on to American’s operations center where they learned from employees how American’s operation runs smoothly at a hub such as Washington. Once finished touring the operations center, it was time to head down to the ramp where they saw numerous aircraft including the Boeing 737-800, Airbus A319/320/321 and Embraer E175 and took a group picture in front of an American 737.

Touring the ramp at DCA airport. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Ben Suskind)

While on the ramp, the group met up with staff from the airport rescue and firefighting (ARFF) division. ARFF staff operate the firetrucks that are used for aircraft but also for special occasions such as the arrival of an honor flight or the arrival of a captain’s final flight. Attendees were able to see the inside of the fire truck and take pictures.

Staying on the ramp, the group headed to American’s maintenance hangar. Although the hangar was empty, as its mostly used for overnight maintenance checks, the group was still able to learn about the daily operations of the Washington maintenance staff and see where aircraft get serviced when not flying. The group stayed in the hangar for a catered lunch featuring chicken salad or a chicken wrap served as if they were on an aircraft.

After lunch, the group headed up to Washington’s air traffic control tower where they talked to air traffic controllers about airport traffic patterns and the future taxiway expansion at the airport. The tower provided 360-degree views of the airport as well as downtown Washington, D.C. and was where the group concluded their tour.

Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport

At one of three tours occurring in the Dallas area, the group touring American’s primary hub at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, led by AirlineGeeks’ Joe Pesek, started off by touring American’s Dallas control center. Employees in the control center showed the group how aircraft are assigned gates and how catering, aircraft cleaning and other crews are coordinated and work together to achieve an on-time operation.

American’s DFW staff giving participants an overview of the control center operations. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Joe Pesek)
American’s operations center at DFW. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Joe Pesek)

Following the control center tour, the group headed out to the ramp and drove over to Terminal D, the international arrivals terminal in Dallas, and toured the baggage room. In the baggage room, the group saw first-hand how a bag moves from check-in to the aircraft. Next on the agenda was a catered lunch at the Yandry Center in Terminal C with American’s Vice President, Dallas Hub Operations Cedric Rockamore and Managing Director, Dallas Customer Care Michelle Hinds.

After lunch, the group headed back down to the ramp for a drive to Hangar 5 where safety checks of inflatable equipment are performed. The group had the opportunity to witness testing an inflatable slide and learned first-hand all the work that goes into maintaining the inflatables.

Then, it was time to for an aircraft tour, with the group being able to go inside a Boeing 777-300ER, which American uses on routes such as Dallas to London, Hong Kong and Sao Paulo. The group toured the cockpit, cabin and crew rest areas on the aircraft and had the opportunity to take pictures throughout and test the long-haul first, business, premium economy and economy products.

An American Boeing 777-300ER in the hangar in Dallas. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Joe Pesek)

The group ended the day with airfield photo opportunities of aircraft such as the MD-80, Boeing 737, Boeing 777-200, Boeing 777-300ER, Embraer E175, amongst other, and even some aircraft belonging to other airlines including an Emirates Airline Boeing 777-300ER, Qatar Airways Boeing 777-300ER and a Qantas A380.

“By far the most enjoyable experience for the group was going out on the ramp as well as touring the Boeing 777 and MD-80 aircraft,” said AirlineGeeks’ representative in DFW Joe Pesek. “For many, it was a bittersweet opportunity getting to see an MD-80 that was going to be sent off to Roswell soon for the ‘airplane desert.’ Personally, I grew up flying onboard the MD-80 with both American and TWA and it was amazing to see how far aircraft have come since then when you see the Boeing 777-300ER.”

Tulsa Maintenance Facility

In the middle of Oklahoma, AirlineGeeks’ Justin Sinanan and his group toured American’s Tulsa Maintenance Facility. Located on-site at Tulsa International Airport, the facility is the worldwide headquarters for all of American Airlines’ maintenance and engineering activities. While there’s no Admirals Club or Flagship Lounge here, attendees got to see aircraft at their most vulnerable and exposed.

The first aircraft on the list was the McDonnell Douglas MD-80, or Super 80 as American calls them. The group got to see every inch of the aircraft from the tip of the nose to the top of the tail as American provided lifts to take participants to the top for a bird’s eye view. The chrome aircraft is soon-to-be retired by American so the group had one last opportunity to get fully acquainted before it disappears from the fleet.

Face to face with an American Super 80. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Justin Sinanan)
The tail end of an American Super 80 in Tulsa. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Justin Sinanan)

Next up was the Boeing 757-200 where the group got to see the aircraft being worked on by mechanics. Inside, the floorboards were removed to inspect the wiring and attendees had a rare chance to see the guts of an aircraft below the passenger cabin.

An American Boeing 757-200 in Tulsa for maintenance. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Justin Sinanan)

After touring the aircraft, it was time to visit the engine shop. American’s fleet flies with a wide variety of engines both small and large so the engine shop was full of diversity as well. In the shop, everything from the Pratt and Whitney JT8Ds that power the MD-80s to the CFM56s that power the Boeing 737 fleet were being worked on and overhauled.

This was the last stop of the tour and, according to Justin, the group was most surprised by the small size of bolts used to secure the RB211 to a Boeing 757.

Envoy Air’s Headquarters

While the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport group was making their way across the airport, AirlineGeeks’ Matthew Garcia was leading a group through the headquarters of Envoy Air, American’s regional subsidiary. The tour began with a tour of the Envoy maintenance hangar on the field at DFW where attendees walked around and toured the inside of an Embraer E140 aircraft, a workhorse of the Envoy fleet.

Touring the workhorse of the Envoy Air fleet, the Embraer E145. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Matthew Garcia)

The Embraer E140 that they toured was recently pulled from storage in the desert and was in the process of an overhaul. Due to the demand in the summer, Envoy pulled numerous aircraft from storage and have been using them to their fullest. In addition to the aircraft, the group got an up-close look at engines from both the E140 and the CRJ700/E175.

Heading over to the headquarters building, the group got to see the ERJ and CRJ cabin trainers, which flight attendants and pilots use to practice emergency procedures. Attendees got to try on life vests and open the emergency exit door on a CRJ aircraft. After touring the cabin trainers, the group toured the different training classrooms and learned about the flow systems on each aircraft, even sitting in on an ERJ systems flow lesson.

Following the systems lesson, the group headed into Envoy’s nerve center, its system operations control (SOC). In the SOC, attendees learned everything that dispatch, fleet management, maintenance and crew scheduling do on a daily basis. The group then spoke with a dispatcher who showed them how ACARS works and explained his daily workload and finished off by talking with the dispatch manager who explained the entire SOC operation and how it operates.

Touring the SOC at Envoy’s headquarters. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Matthew Garcia)

In the middle of their day, the group had lunch in an Envoy conference. The airline catered Chik-fil-a for lunch, much to the jealousy of attendees across the country. During lunch, the group had the opportunity to talk amongst themselves and with airline staff in an informal setting.

After lunch was over, the group went over to the mainline side and toured American’s training center where its flight simulators are housed. The group was able to go inside numerous simulators, including the Boeing 737-800, Boeing 777 and Boeing 787 simulators. Additionally, the group also got a special peek at flight attendant recurrent training in progress.

Following the tour of the training center, the group headed to the CR Smith Museum where they watched Pursuit of Flight, a movie that outlines the quest to establish flight. After walking around and viewing the museum’s exhibits, the group took their group picture in front of the American Airlines sign.

The group then headed back to Envoy headquarters to finish off the tour where they were given swag bags consisting of Envoy branded trinkets, sunglasses and a drawstring bag. Although the tour was over, Envoy invited the attendees to stick around and have fajitas if they wanted, courtesy of the airline.

“AAviationDay at Envoy is always a wonderful time,” said Garcia. “The hospitality at Envoy was out of this world. Going behind the scenes at the largest regional carrier for American Airlines really shows how much weight regionals pull for mainline carriers. I would like to extend a thank you to Envoy for opening their doors to avgeeks and providing us with a one-of-a-kind experience. Thank you for celebrating aviation with us!”

American Airlines’ Headquarters

Attendees visiting American Airlines’ world headquarters near Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport got a special behind the scenes look at how to train to be part of the in-flight crew at the airline. Beginning with a look at flight attendant training, attendees toured the cabin trainer of a Boeing 737-800 aircraft, one of American’s workhorses, and saw how flight attendants train to prepare for actual flights.

In the trainers, everything from emergency procedures to drink and meal service is practiced to ensure that flight attendants are prepared for any and all situations that might occur at altitude. The mock aircraft are an exact replica of the actual aircraft interiors to allow for a seamless transition from trainer to aircraft.

The group then got to see how pilots train for their jobs of flying the aircraft by visiting the simulator training center. Numerous aircraft simulators were on display to the group, but the most exciting was the Airbus A350 simulator. American was supposed to operate the A350, a holdover from an order that US Airways placed before the merger but changed its order to the Boeing 787 Dreamliner as American was operating it around the time when the merger went through.

AAviationDay 2018

AirlineGeeks would like to thank all that participated in the day’s events, including those following along at home on social media. Additionally, many thanks to American Airlines for opening up your doors to over a hundred aviation enthusiasts around the world and to American’s corporate communications department for coordinating the national and international events.

Happy AAviationDay 2018! (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Tom Pallini)

This story was updated on Sunday, August 19 at 7:00 p.m. ET to correct an error with the name of D.C.’s airport authority. 

Thomas Pallini

Thomas Pallini

Tom has been flying for as long as he can remember. His first flight memory was on a Song Airlines 757 flying from LaGuardia to Orlando. Back then, he was afraid to fly because he thought you needed to jump off the plane in order to get off. Some years later, Tom is now a seasoned traveler, often flying to places just for the fun of it. Most of the time, he'll never leave the airport on his trips. If he's not at home or at work as a Line Service Technician at Long Island MacArthur Airport, he's off flying somewhere, but only for the day.
Thomas Pallini