European Aftermarket Adapts To Cost And Technology Pressures

MRO executives in Europe note the challenges and opportunities next-gen aircraft introductions bring

As geopolitical forces in the U.K. and Spain press for independence—as demonstrated by the September vote in Scotland and upcoming one in Catalonia—major airlines there have been doing the opposite.

British Airways and Iberia merged in 2011, formed International Airlines Group, acquired Vueling in 2013, and this year each airline logged its highest second-quarter operating results since 2007.  

Just as the aftermath of Scotland’s “no” vote will involve diplomacy and constructive discussions, British Airways and Iberia, which have different cultures, made hard decisions to evolve to the new realities in Europe (page MRO21).

To gauge these market evolutions in advance of Aviation Week’s MRO Europe event—see AviationWeek.com/MROEurope—we asked European MRO leaders their perspectives on geopolitical, economic and technological issues affecting the market (page MRO8). Viewpoints vary, but the executives agree that next-gen aircraft introductions bring challenges in funding and technology—as well as opportunities to elevate professional development, effectively maintain the integrated systems and structures on these aircraft and engines, and fully utilize performance data for predictive maintenance.

This is part of the MRO ecosystem evolution that includes OEMs playing a more active part in the aftermarket, blended financial and maintenance-service packages, and high-tech repairs and surplus parts that make the aftermarket a very dynamic place.

And in Europe, the lower-cost labor model in Eastern Europe is no longer sustainable, and fierce competition exists from North Africa and the Middle East. Overall, pressure on prices and productivity abounds.

But pressure can prompt innovation. Witness how advances in materials and laser technology for additive manufacturing in the next two years could lead to lower-priced parts (page MRO14). Learn how MROs and OEMs are developing new technologies such as blending robotization and induction heating to repair high-pressure turbine blades (page MRO42). And even though Europe recently extended ADS-B “Out” compliance until 2020, there could be a capacity crunch to accomplish the upgrades (page MRO43). How is your business planning for this?

As we adjust—and hopefully thrive—in this new world order, relationships change; sometimes a company can be a competitor and sometimes a partner. Keep your trusted relationships strong and be open to new collaboration. 

Podcast  Lee Ann Tegtmeier and Brian Kough, director of forecasts and analysis for the Aviation Week Intelligence Network (AWIN), discuss Aviation Week’s 2014 MRO Forecast
AviationWeek.com/MROForecast

Follow our live MRO Europe coverage at AviationWeek.com/MROEurope

 
A version of this article appears in the October 6 issue of Aviation Week & Space Technology.
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