Viewpoint

Are the days of PMA numbered?

This week one of ICF International’s principal consultants predicted that in 10 years’ time 1,000 aircraft will be retired each year, more than twice the number that were removed from service in 2012.

It also seems likely that the average age of the aircraft being retired will decrease, as innovations in avionics, for example, leave operators facing expensive upgrades or new technologies improve fuel efficiency rates to such an extent that aircraft become uneconomical to run earlier in their lifecycle.

The remaining value in such assets will be in reselling parts and materials. And with the number of aircraft in the air expected to increase by around 20%, to more than 32,000 in 2023, the market for parts while growing is set to be a very competitive one.

This all paints a very interesting picture for the future of PMA parts.

The key selling point of these parts is, of course, that they are cheaper than OEM manufactured parts. And while some airlines, in regions such as Europe, have happily made the switch other companies, particularly lessors, have shied away from using non-OEM parts for fear of devaluing their asset or not being able to remarket these aircraft at all.

Meanwhile, OEMs and MRO firms have started to seriously invest in repairing and refurbishing parts. Rolls-Royce, for example, has spent millions of pounds on a piece of equipment to repair one part in its Trent engines and has already achieved payback. 

Also, Honeywell has launched its Aerospace Trading business, which offers new surplus and reconditioned OEM and non-OEM parts.

With the cost of raw materials on the rise it makes sense for OEMs and MRO firms to capitalise on the booming market in surplus parts to cut costs.

This would seem to put a question mark over the USP of PMA parts.

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