The equivalent of an $11.8 million Jiffy Lube for airplanes is expected to formally open for business at 8 p.m. ET today, when a Northwest Airlines subsidiary gives its first jet a checkup in a new maintenance hangar at the Des Moines airport.
Mesaba Airlines, based in Minnesota, will be able to work on four airplanes at a time in the 65,000-square-foot hangar, said airport spokesman Roy Criss. Maintenance crews will receive jets in the evening, work through the night, then put the planes back into rotation for flights out of the city.
"It's just like if you and I look at our odometer and see that the oil needs to be changed," Criss said. "What they'll do is, they know when a plane's going to be due based on its miles or hours, and they'll schedule that plane for a flight to Des Moines."
The jets involved include Mesaba's fleet of 50-seat Bombardier CRJ200 and 76-seat CRJ900 aircraft, which Mesaba uses to service major airport hubs in all directions from Des Moines.
Phillip Sundberg, Mesaba's general manager of maintenance for Minneapolis, Des Moines and the Quad Cities, said 35 to 40 Mesaba employees will perform duties ranging from general safety to checks of navigational equipment and lubrication of the landing gear — and, of course, changing oil filters.
"Our intention is not to take on anything we can't perform overnight," Sundberg said. "This is our primary maintenance base for the CRJs.
"We have more that are overnight here than anywhere else. So it makes sense to have this hangar here."
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