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Inside the $438 million Emirates complex designed to fix the Airbus A380 superjumbo

Benjamin Zhang
  • Emirates has the largest fleet of Boeing 777s and Airbus A380s in the world.
  • Emirates Engineering is tasked with keeping the fleet operating safely and effectively.
  • Here's a look inside its facilities at Dubai International Airport.

Over the past three decades, Emirates has become a global aviation powerhouse. The Dubai, United Arab Emirates-based airline now operates the world's largest fleet Airbus A380s and Boeing 777s.

The tally includes 101 Airbus A380s, five times as many as the next largest operator of the superjumbo. And Emirates has committed to as many as 77 more of the planes. It also operates 166 Boeing 777 airliners. That means roughly 12% of all Boeing 777s produced over the past 25 years currently fly wearing Emirates livery.

And the people tasked with keeping these planes operating safely and effectively is Emirates Engineering. It's the airline's maintenance arm.

Emirates engineering handles everything from routine line maintenance to comprehensive checks that require the disassembly of the aeroplane. They also do engine maintenance, cabin modifications, and aircraft upgrade projects.

Emirates even has a paint shop where it can do custom liveries and decals.

It's an organisation that has proved to be immensely successful and is built on a team-focused culture of "when in doubt, ask for help" and an understanding of the importance of preventative maintenance.

Emirates engineering is headquartered in a complex of hangars, engineering shops, and office building at the northern edge of Dubai Airport. The $US350 million ($AU438 million) facilities opened for business in 2006.

Recently, Business Insider had the pleasure of a taking a tour of Emirates Engineering facility.

Emirates Engineering is based in a massive 136-acre complex of administrative buildings and hangars located on the northern edge of Dubai International Airport.

The facility's eight hangars help make up one of the largest free-standing structures in the world.

Our first stop, the Aircraft Appearance Centre. This is more than a paint shop. Here, workers are able to assess the condition of the aircraft's exterior. cleaning it, paint it, and apply any additional decals.

Here's an Airbus A380 waiting for a new coat of paint.

Inside the maintenance hangars...

...We come across one of the 10 remaining Boeing 777-200LRs in the Emirates fleet.

Its cabin has been completely stripped down to make way for the new interior Emirates debuted in November at the Dubai Air Show.

Here's a pair of new business class seats sitting in a crate waiting to be installed.

Here are some of the old seats that have been removed.

Next up is another Boeing 777. This time it's a -300ER series that's being prepped for its return to a leasing company.

Emirates is redoing the interior of the aircraft based on the lease agreement.

The seats stay the same, but the Emirates carpet has to go. Hence to the new blue carpet in the cabin.

Here's a GE90 turbofan engine from a Boeing 777 sitting in the middle of the hangar.

The next plane we come across is this A380. No organisation in the world has more experience maintaining the A380. In fact, Emirates Engineering plans to leverage this experience by making itself the main service provider for airlines that operate the plane around the world.

The double-decker is massive!

It's in the shop to have an engine pylon replaced.

To get around the complex, workers use tricycles like these.

Here's another A380. You can't fully appreciate how massive these planes are until you see them in person.

Finally, the last plane in the service hangar is a 777-300ER that is having its landing gear changed.

The last stop of the tour was the facility's engine shop.

Here's a Rolls-Royce Trent 900 from an Airbus A380. Emirates' A380 fleet has traditionally used Engine Alliance GP7200 engines, but the airline decided to switch over to Rolls-Royce a couple of years ago.

Emirates has a new dedicated engine maintenance facility that's located roughly 25 miles away from the Dubai Airport. As a result, this engine shop is less busy these days.