The next time you take to the skies, your plane may be riding on retreaded tires manufactured right here in Davie County. On Tuesday, February 9th, Dunlop received final FAA certification to begin manufacturing retread aircraft tires at its facility in Mocksville, located in the Southpoint Business Park on US Highway 601. Dunlop will also use this facility as a North American distribution center for new tires manufactured in the UK.
After evaluating a number of potential sites throughout the southeastern United States, the company selected Mocksville as its first North American retreading facility in October 2014. The company selected Davie County because of the positive response received from the local community, good transportation links, an excellent workforce within the Mocksville and Davie County region, and supportive funding from the state, according to Dunlop Aircraft Tyres’ chairman, Ian Edmondson.
Dunlop, the world’s only specialist aircraft tire manufacturer and retreader, will use the Mocksville location to boost its competitiveness across the Americas, particularly on popular narrow and wide-bodied jet airliners and military aircraft. The company is currently certified to supply tires for over 300 different types of aircraft in the civil and military aviation sectors.
According to Doug Longley, Dunlop quality manager in Mocksville, the plant will begin manufacturing the three tires it is certified for immediately while seeking certification for additional tires. The company’s goal is to obtain certification for 25 different tires over the next couple of years, including tires used on the Boeing C-17 military cargo plane.
Dunlop, based in Birmingham, UK, already supports a number of US-based airlines. In particular, the company’s tires are a popular choice for operators of regional jets and turboprops including the Bombardier Dash and Embraer E-Jets.
Major US customers include Compass Airlines which operates 42 E-Jets for Delta Connection and Republic Airlines which operates more than 150 Dunlop equipped E-Jets on behalf of American Eagle, United Express and US Airways Express.
“Most people aren’t aware that 3 out of 4 aircraft tires are retreads, or that retreaded tires are often stronger than newly manufactured ones because of the bonding process,” said Longley. “The approximate life cycle of an aircraft tire is 300 landings before needing to be retreaded. A tire can be retreaded up to 10 times, but the average is around 5.”
Each worn tire is rigorously inspected through a visual test, an air needle test to make sure it has no leaks, and a computerized shearography test that looks for air gaps, to make sure it is structurally sound and safe to be retreaded.
A sound tire casing then goes through a highly specialized, multi-stepped retreading process and is carefully re-tested before being sold to a customer.
Dunlop is committed to the highest level of quality and safety,” said Longley. “When you know that 200 to 300 lives are depending on that tire to hold together during a 180 mile per hour landing, you have to take it seriously. We remind our employees that everything they do truly matters.”
John Seawell, plant manager, was pleased to find the employees needed for such a critical task through the DCCC Business and Industry Customized Training Program. Although the four plant managers have a combined 75+ years experience in the aircraft tire industry, none of the production technicians hired had any former aviation experience.
“We are very pleased with the caliber of employees we have found in Davie County,” Seawell said. “Not only in how quickly they have learned this job but also in how interested they are in the work. We are looking for people willing to learn, more than anything else. I have no doubt we will continue to find the skilled employees we need as we expand.”
Dunlop plans to hire as many as 50 technicians in the next two years and operate two shifts by the first quarter of next year. Although not actively hiring for new positions, the company plans to continue working with DCCC to fill future openings.Another Davie County Win in Global Aerospace Competition! Click To Tweet
“If you want to make something in North Carolina, you come to the Piedmont,” said Terry Bralley, president of Davie County Economic Development. “We have a long history of quality manufacturing and high standards.”
“Dunlop is an international company that could have chosen anywhere to establish its North American manufacturing base,” he added. “The fact that they chose Davie County, North Carolina is pretty special.”