Why American Airlines has its own igloo

American Airlines has an igloo. Photo: American Airlines. 

American Airlines has an igloo. Photo: American Airlines. 

Did you know American Airlines has its own igloo?

No. Not in the traditional sense. But American told employee this week that its maintenance staff has a traveling igloo-type enclosure that technicians bring on the road. They can use it to make repairs in places where American has no regular maintenance staff or hangar access.

The igloo came in handy in December, after an Airbus A321 from Miami to Los Angeles diverted to Lubbock, Texas when an engine warning light came on. 

American has no mechanics in Lubbock, so it had to fly some in from Dallas, Chicago and Phoenix. They brought in a spare engine from New York JFK and planned to make the change on the ground. But Lubbock was cold that week, and American had no place for its mechanics to work. 

Enter the igloo, which they put up after removing snow on the airport's ramp.

"After clearing the space, the team set up an inflatable shelter where they repaired the engine with protection from the freezing weather and snow," American said in its weekly employee newsletter. "The igloo-shaped structure, which ORD Tech Ops employees brought to LBB, is equipped with two portable generators for heat and lights; the front is easily detachable, giving the team room to move the engine inside and back out after repairs."

As you may know, changing an engine is not a quick fix. The aircraft diverted on Dec. 23, and the crews reached Lubbock on Dec. 26. They did not finish until Dec. 30.  At times, during "extreme weather," crews had to stop.

Here's a slide show of the maintenance team and the igloo. All photos courtesy of American Airlines.