1 Nov 2019
CNN Travel were given a recent tour of our headquarters in West Sussex.
We were once a small operation run out of a modest warehouse near Gatwick Airport, south of London, now we are a multimillion-dollar business, with thousands of spare parts ready to spring into action. We receive 155,000 import and export orders a year.
Inside AJW's sprawling UK headquarters, situated just outside the unassuming English village of Slinfold, is a giant warehouse housing everything you'll ever need on an airplane.
Literally, everything - from toilet cleaner to airplane seats and seatbelts, tires - and, soberingly, airplane flight recorders, the "black boxes" that are used by investigators to determine the cause of air crashes.
In an adjacent glass office building, president and CEO Christopher Whiteside, an aviation expert who took over AJW 15 years ago, explains how the company operates.
"We own and manage the assets primarily, really any spares - from a seal or a filament to an engine - and we move that stuff around. We hold it in dedicated warehouses, or we move it around the global network and we also repair that material."
Whiteside uses an example - imagine there's an A320 at Gatwick with a reported technical problem. Airplanes can fly in various states of disrepair, but if the technical fault has deemed the aircraft not airworthy, something has to be done ASAP.
The first step is the pilot identifying the problem and communicating the issue with the on-ground team. It might be the airline has a spare on hand and the engineer can fit it, in which case the issue is resolved on site.
"If they don't have one, they'll call one up from somebody like us," says Whiteside.
"We have literally thousands of aircraft spare parts and, and hundreds of millions of dollars worth of value in this material - located everywhere from Buenos Aires to Birmingham to Hong Kong."
Airlines will be keen to get the problem solved quick. It's not just an inconvenience for customers, an AOG sitting unmoving could cost the airline thousands of dollars an hour.
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