Association of European Airlines (AEA) chairman Temel Kotil used a keynote address at MRO Europe in Madrid to warn about mounting dependency on original equipment manufacturers (OEM) for aftermarket support.
Kotil, who is also Turkish Airlines CEO, said airline-OEM relations need to be rebalanced. Costs need to come down, while maintaining quality and safety levels, especially in emerging markets.
He also highlighted worldwide fleet growth, projected to reach 42,000 by 2023; in 2013, the worldwide fleet number tallied at 21,000 aircraft. Growth will be led by emerging economies in Asia and Africa, creating opportunities for the MRO sector, but Kotil cautioned that high-cost services could stifle this potential.
“The Asian market, which is third in size today, will be the largest MRO market by 2024. The market is shifting from west to east,” he said. “There is a new market in Africa. There are billions of passengers waiting to fly.”
While in the past, there has been an even balance between OEMs, airline MROs and independent players in supporting the worldwide fleet, Kotil predicts a shift in market power to favor OEMs, fueled by the latest generation of aircraft entering service. “In the long term, the MRO market will be dominated by OEM monopolies,” he said.
This could be partly addressed by regulators granting more widespread parts manufacturer approvals (PMA), opening up the spares market beyond the OEMs and cutting wait times for aircraft parts.
The AEA chairman also called on the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to work for greater standardization with the FAA, harmonizing regulation in areas such as aging aircraft. “We need a holistic approach, to get rid of unnecessary regulatory burdens,” he said. One example of this would be using performance-based safety oversight, cutting down the number of inspections needed for mature maintenance operations.
Finally, Kotil flagged the issue of the looming skills shortage, noting “584,000 new technicians are needed to maintain world fleet from now to 2023.”
“We need to double the number technicians in 20 years, or find a better way to repair aircraft,” he added.