Southwest Eyeing Used 737NG Parts Market
Southwest Airlines is keeping a close eye on the used-parts market and may ramp up its spares stock if Boeing 737NG part-outs pick up and prices on harvested parts begin to fall. “At some point, the cost curve is going to start bending down,” Peter Requa, Southwest’s senior director of supply chain management of technical operations, told Inside MRO at Aviation Week’s MRO Americas conference this month in Orlando, Florida. “We can’t predict when that is, but we’re watching for it.” Requa emphasized that the carrier has plenty of spares on hand and is not actively looking to add much beyond its forecasted needs.
“We don’t need to buy large packages unless we’re opening up a new maintenance line station or we have a lot of [beyond economic repair parts] forecasted—something to drive the large purchase,” he said. “The way we’re set up right now, we’re in pretty good shape.”
The carrier has purchased several packages of 737NG parts in the past few years, and “we’ll probably do something similar as we go forward,” Requa said. “For the right price, we might want to increase our service levels. It’s a price/availability play.”
Data from a recent Canaccord Genuity survey of nearly 50 MRO providers suggests a recent uptick in used-parts purchasing. The survey found that 27.5% of parts purchased in the first quarter were used—the highest figure in the quarterly survey since the firm began asking the question three years ago.
The trend is not expected to hold, but a full-year projection of 20% is not out of the question, Canaccord says—a notable jump from figures around 15% a few years ago.
Leather Seat Covers Reduce American Delays
American Airlines has found a remedy to one of the most common reasons for delays, by replacing cloth seat covers with leather ones.
The engineered leather seat covers have resulted in a ninefold decrease of some delays, Craig Barton, vice president of technical services at the airline, said at MRO Americas.
Legacy American aircraft were equipped with cloth seat covers, and soiled seats were among the top 10 reasons for flight delays, Barton says. Soiled or wet seats are typically discovered as passengers board the aircraft, which is among the worst times for a repair to be made. Liquids can penetrate the seat cover and dampen the cushions, requiring a more complicated fix for the technician to perform, and this caused significant delays across American’s system, he says.
The leather seat covers on the legacy US Airways fleet can be cleaned simply by wiping down and cleansing the seat. This one fix has reduced seat-cushion-related delays by more than 90%, Barton says, and has contributed to American’s improving on-time performance.
The carrier has swapped the seat covers on its entire Boeing 737 fleet. The 777 fleet is “about halfway done,” Barton says. Seats on the 767 and 757 fleets are being replaced as part of a complete cabin refresh on those types, he notes.
United Switching Up 737NG Maintenance
United Airlines plans to introduce optimized maintenance plans for the Boeing 737NG to smooth turnaround times. As the aircraft age, the carrier is finding more nonroutine work, such as corrosion and cracks, that throw off the maintenance schedule.
United is working with Boeing to pull out some of the remain-overnight (RON) A check maintenance tasks and create a B check, which will be done every 18 months, says John Wertz, director of technical operations.
The RON A checks each take 160-180 maintenance man-hours, depending on the cards, and Wertz says the new phased A checks will drop that to about 80 hr. The new B check should take 3-4 days, depending on the workscope.
United’s Orlando, Florida, maintenance base, which performs the 737NG heavy checks, planned to start the first bridging check around May 15, says Wertz.
Pemco (ATSG) launched passenger-to-flex combination (three possible configurations) and passenger-to-freighter conversion programs for the Boeing 737-700 and secured Bahrain-based Chisholm Enterprises as launch customer for 737-700FC certification and redelivery in mid-2018.
Lufthansa Technik Aero Alzey won a contract from Zimex Aviation to provide Pratt & Whitney PW124B maintenance for four ATRs.
Aero Norway, Stavanger was approved by the United Arab Emirates to perform CFM56-3, CFM56-5B and CFM56-7B maintenance and repair.
Monarch Aircraft Engineering won a SmartLynx contract to provide A320 line maintenance at London Luton and Gatwick airports.
AAR secured an ASL Aviation contract to provide PBH component repair and support for its airline group fleet of 100 aircraft, including its ATR turboprops. To support the program, it acquired ATR spares and component services business from Aclas Global, UK.
CTS Engines of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, won a five-year Asiana contract to provide GE CF6-80C2 overhaul.