Boeing: Aviation's answer to Amazon

While many companies have down-sized to focus on their core skill set, Boeing is set to take over the industry with an umbrella offering of services.

For example, Boeing Edge has the industry’s largest portfolio of support services, all of which are organised around how an airline operates. The OEM is also expanding its digital offerings. From flight materials to information services, Boeing is effectively aiming to deliver a one-stop shop to its customers.

Recently, Boeing announced that it will expand its products and services further with the purchase of two aviation companies, ETS Aviation and AerData.

UK-based ETS Aviation provides fuel-efficiency analytics software to more than 120 airlines and corporate flight departments, including tools to monitor fuel consumption, identify fuel savings opportunities, and track and report carbon emissions.

Netherlands-based AerData meanwhile, provides integrated software solutions for lease management, engine fleet planning and records management. With it, Boeing will expand its aircraft maintenance and leasing records management capabilities.

“Boeing is focused on creating a competitive advantage for our customers,” said Stan Deal, SVP of commercial aviation services at Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “Adding these fuel-efficiency tools enhances the edge we provide customers, helping airlines realise greater operating and environmental efficiencies.”

On the AerData buyout, he said: “AerData’s tools make it easier for airlines and leasing companies to manage complex maintenance records.

“Increasing the efficiency of records management helps to streamline the process of placing airplanes and other valuable assets with operators during leasing transactions.”

But what's the upshot of all this? Like Amazon, Boeing is creating an oligopoly. 

Amazon has become the world’s largest online retailer, but that wasn’t enough. It’s also branched out to offer the Amazon phone, e-book reader, tablet computer and cloud computing services. We all love Amazon, but just talk to a small bookshop owner to find out the effect it’s had on the marketplace.

Similarly, Boeing and Airbus have taken business from MROs by selling their aircraft with an aftermarket package. Independent MRO providers have been very vocal about this but, because of their size and standing, OEMs will always have the ball in their court.

Some have predicted that independent MROs will have to start offering a different and cheaper alternative. The obvious way to do so is to offer non-OEM parts, but whether airlines will risk their asset value by accepting these parts is yet to be seen.

What is clear is that the market is changing. Seeing the success of companies like Amazon, Boeing also sees an opportunity. But while a one-stop-shop can make life a lot easier for airlines, we should never forget the importance of smaller companies.  

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