That reassuring bump as the landing gear hits the tarmac is something that most air passengers take for granted. This complex piece of equipment ensures a safe landing every time the aircraft hits the runway.
In line with its dedication to safety standards, South African Airways Technical (SAAT), a subsidiary of South African Airways (SAA), has set the standard by overhauling a Boeing 737-800 aircraft landing gear shipset in record time. Specialized maintenance is often a time-consuming task, a process that typically takes as long as 60 days by industry standards. SAAT has set a record of 40 days to overhaul a set of landing gears.
Despite initial reservations that the task was only achievable outside South Africa, SAAT was awarded the project and set about completing the overhaul ahead of schedule and within budget.
James Nthulana, Production Leader at SAAT, has enjoyed a 28-year-long career at SAAT. Beginning his tenure as a technician and working his way up to becoming a Production Leader, the project holds great significance for Nthulana who has been working on landing gears for over 21 years.
“Completing this project within 40 days is one of the most significant achievements in my career, and I attribute it to effective communication, team commitment and thorough planning. This accomplishment has put us on the map as one of the few facilities in Africa with such capabilities and is a proof point to manufacturers.”
On any given day, an estimated 90,000 planes take off and land around the world. An aircraft's landing gear is a critical component that is required to be exceptionally durable, as it is not immune to wear and tear and is vulnerable to corrosion and damage. The landing gear is also instrumental in supporting the aircraft's weight whilst on the ground and absorbing the impact of landing and providing stability during taxiing.
Interim Chief Executive Officer at SAAT, Wellington Nyuswa, expressed his pride in the SAAT team’s accomplishment, adding that it demonstrates SAAT’s ability to turn the business around and grow together with SAA to form an organisation that South Africa can be proud of. He further stated that this project is a
testament to SAAT’s recovery plan of becoming a world-class Maintenance Repair and Overhaul centre of excellence.
“Our strategic plan is to expand our landing gear shop and back-shop capabilities while focusing on sustainable profitability and efficiency. With SAAT now operating with an organizational structure that is fit for purpose, we believe this will empower and motivate the team to continuously look for ways to improve and make SAAT the industry benchmark.”