Martin Marietta Corp. has taken a section of its sprawling Middle River complex and turned it into something similar to a one-stop shopping center where airlines from around the world can come for repair parts.
The Commercial Customer Support Distribution Center, housed in a 50,000-square-foot warehouse not far from where an earlier generation of workers built the Titan II rockets that powered the Gemini astronauts into space in the 1960s, will stock all the parts needed to repair or overhaul the thrust reversers used on the General Electric Co.'s CF6 family of jet engines.
Thrust reversers are located at the rear of a jet engine and serve as brakes for jets as they land. The CF6 engine is used on a wide variety of planes, including the Boeing 747 and 767, the McDonnell Douglas MD 11 and the Airbus A310.
More than 1,700 planes are powered by this family of GE engines.
Martin Marietta's Baltimore County plant is the sole supplier of thrust reversers for this particular line of GE engines.
Parts from around the country are being consolidated at the Middle River complex, said Donald Carson, a Martin Marietta spokesman. "We have brought in parts from GE support service in New Jersey. We'll be bringing in parts from GE's aero engine operations in Cincinnati this month."
Mr. Carson said the company believes the operation will provide better service to customers. "It's an operation that will be open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and it is set up to ship a part within four hours of when an order comes in.
"When an airline in Kansas City needs a part, we can ship it out or they can send the thrust reverser to us to repair," he said.
The operation is staffed by seven workers, but it's a line of business that the company believes has the potential for future growth.
It eventually wants to service thrust reversers used on the other lines of GE aircraft engines. The company would also like to establish a similar center to service the line of thrust reversers it .. makes for use on jet engines produced by Pratt and Whitney, a division of United Technologies Corp.
The warehouse is adjacent to the company's Center for Aircraft Maintenance, which makes the repairs to thrust reversers shipped to the Middle River complex.
Workers at Middle River have produced more than 3,500 thrust reversers for GE engines. It has competitors in the repair business, but Mr. Carson said, "We like to think we can do it better because the reversers are made here."