Engine jobs jeopardised by better reliability

Lower maintenance costs are a key selling point of new airframe and engine models, yet their impact on the MRO sector is sometimes overlooked.

Yesterday (May 18), however, Lufthansa Technik (LHT) revealed that it would be cutting about 600 jobs from its engine department in Hamburg due to the reduced overhaul requirements of engines such as LEAP and the PW1000.

While the lower headcount will be achieved through natural wastage rather than compulsory redundancies, the cuts – which will take place over 10 years – still represent more than a third of LHT’s engine workforce in Hamburg.

Talking to German media last week, LHT’s chief executive, Johannes Bussmann, said that improving reliability – such as the new narrowbody engines’ need for two rather than three overhauls during their service lives – would offset the benefits to the MRO sector of a growing global fleet.

“Therefore as the market leader we have to grow our market share,” he told Die Welt.

Speaking to Aviation Week last year, Bussman delved into this topic in greater detail, and forecast that longer times on wing combined with OEM moves into the aftermarket would eventually make it difficult for small engine MRO shops to survive.

“For smaller facilities: 10-15 years down the road, it can’t be economical. If you don’t have the scale, you will not be participating in the market,” he said.

For LHT to thrive in the new engine market, Bussman thinks it will need to at least double its volumes, with some of this new business being sourced from partnerships with OEMs.

An obvious example the joint venture that LHT agreed last June with GE to perform overhauls on engines for the 747-8 and forthcoming 777X.

Evidently, though, the second prong of his strategy will see the company also keep a firm lid on costs.

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