WALNUT RIDGE, AR (KAIT) --Any vehicle is basically a collection of parts. When one breaks you install a new one.
But what about when a part costs thousands of dollars and you need it quickly?
Operators of commercial aircraft face this problem daily.
So who do they turn to?
A jet airliner or cargo plane makes no money sitting waiting for a part.
With parts being so expensive many companies do not keep a large inventory on hand.
Instead they rely on companies like Universal Asset Management to supply the parts they need from aircraft they tear down and supply at a reduced cost.
According to Boeing, a 747 has 3 million parts. Occasionally a part breaks and has to be replaced.
Don Maxwell is the General Manager for the teardown facility in Walnut Ridge.
"Our two biggest customers are the major airlines you hear of every day and we also have parts distributors around the world that we supply parts to."
Universal Asset Management has its tear down facility in Walnut Ridge. The 15-year-old company currently is parting out about 32 aircraft. A need that the founder realized wasn't being met.
Maxwell, "Our CEO Steve Manley saw a need that wasn't being met by airlines and other broker suppliers in the world through used material, used aircraft."
A commercial aircraft has a finite life. But even retired from active service still has great value.
When Universal Assets acquires an airplane they don't look at it as the one, they look at it as the whole making up the sum.
Maxwell, "We find the parts on the aircraft to be more valuable than the plane itself. Which puts us in a different category than the regular purchaser of an aircraft. What we look to do is provide our customers with an economical solution to when they are in a dire need for parts either by lead time from a manufacturer or price."
And no part is too small or too big to ship if somebody needs it.
Maxwell, "Where there's a need there's a way we'll find that . That's the solution we'll provide for our customers. Whether it be a wing or an entire fuselage."
Parts are not simply taken off one and installed on another aircraft.
"We'll send it in have it repaired or overhauled, to be refurbished basically as a brand new part."
Universal Asset Management is the only company so far to ever part out a 777 and it has one 747 being parted out currently. Eventually each hulk will be scrapped.
Maxwell, "If we take a normal 737 we're looking at a normal 45 day time frame in which we've got it torn all the way down to a point in which were ready for scrap. The 757, 767, 747 we're gonna have on the ramp a little bit longer."
After all the parts are taken that can be reused the remaining is scrapped. Maxwell says not only is this company good economically it's green as well.
"Even the material that we do scrap we find recycling efforts in place to re-utilize whether it be the metal or the plastic. Anything we retain here on our ramp there's a commercial value in it somewhere, somehow."