Tooling manufacturers offer insight into this often overlooked, but no less important, aspect of aviation ground support, writes Michelle Garetson
The word tooling in aviation has more than one definition. It can be used to describe Ground Support Equipment, which can include towbars, jacks, engine cradles, and dollies. Or, it can be used to describe Maintenance Tools, which are used for the aircraft manufacturer's varied makes and models and involves special tools specific to aircraft type right the way down to hand tools to be used on engines and airframes. Another type of tooling is that equipment used for aircraft assembly lines - from platform systems to transport trailers to testing equipment.
Whichever definition is used, a common thread for all aspects of aircraft tooling is that if the tooling is doing its job correctly, it is invisible.
Hydro, founded in 1965, is a leading manufacturer of aircraft ground support equipment and maintenance tooling with over 165 employees and over 400 customers, worldwide and reports an annual turnover of more than US$25 million. With headquarters in Germany and a subsidiary in Seattle, USA, the company has obtained license agreements or relationships with all major aircraft manufacturers in the aviation industry: Airbus, Boeing, McDonnell Douglas, Dornier, Embraer, and Canadair. Hydro's UK Manager, Graham Cornwall, offers what it takes to become licensed or approved for tooling by a manufacturer and stresses that a company needs to have ISO qualification in place.
"In Hydro's case, we're ISO certified, which means you've got in place all the necessary legislation, working manuals, and working practices," Cornwall explains. "Then, you are audited by a number of companies who you are under supply to and who you are working with. We're audited by Boeing and Airbus and Dornier." He adds, "When you get into the other side of the business where you're selling to people, you are also audited by the airlines and aircraft manufacturers." Hydro supplies direct to the aircraft manufacturers and says it's a fairly stringent business from its perspective. Both Boeing and Airbus have licensees, but have a very different approach to the market regarding the number of licensees and control of the system."
Dedienne Corporation, which began six years ago in France and opened a facility in England, China, and Miami, USA in 2001; is ISO certified, and also has licenses with both Airbus, Boeing, Snecma Services CFMI and have just announced that they will be the sales representative for Snecma Services for the CFMI engine tools for all of the Americas. Dedienne Aerospace division has approximately 250 employees worldwide. Karel Volot is President for Dedienne Corporation-USA and agrees that there are differences in working with Airbus and Boeing.
"Airbus has given 3 licenses, Boeing, 19. They come often to audit us. It's for our protection as well to ensure that we follow the requirements exactly. We work very hard to keep our license."
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