Looking to expand our business plan within the aerospace market, Merrill Aviation & Defense began pursuing heavy commercial landing gear overhaul and repair services. We developed processes to handle larger assemblies, with precision machining and processing capabilities, to better align with the needs of today’s major air carriers. This resulted in a unique relationship with a major air cargo carrier, in proximity to our location that afforded us the opportunity to enter this highly competitive market.
With this new contract, we developed internal processes for overhauling and repairing Boeing 747-200 landing gear. We developed a “Maintenance Repair/Overhaul Contract” which included a standard “Scope of Work” statement to ensure all customer expectations would be clearly understood. We invested in new facilities, recruited and trained an experienced workforce of A&P repairmen; purchased new machinery and equipment required for these operations and developed a trusted supply chain to repeatedly deliver high quality products to our customers at a fair price.
Several challenges had to be overcome before we could offer this type of service to our customer. Our team worked with the FAA to gain final approval and verify all federal regulations were appropriately being accomplished. We utilized a detailed step-by-step process break down and daily monitoring of all related operations to establish repeatable and predicable process phases for the entire project and complete jobs on schedule. Another major challenge our team encountered was establishing a supportive supply chain that could meet our demanding delivery schedules. Older aircraft and limited parts availability required a significant amount of creativity in locating traceable replacement parts with the appropriate FAA approved technical data for use.
After successfully delivering this initial gear set, we received strong support from both our customer and the FAA to develop and operate fully approved landing gear overhaul facility in central Michigan, having the capability to overhaul some of the largest and most comprehensive landing gear currently in existence. This experience has afforded our team the knowledge and expertise to continually improve and successfully negotiate numerous challenges presented by our customers and by this unique and tight-knit marketplace.