The new MRO market looks different to different players, with some shops being highly specialized niche providers and may continue to rely on specialized expertise as long as they can provide highly competitive services.
But the major, global, full-service MROs face a different challenge.
They must increasingly compete across the board on airframes, engines and components and across the world if they want to serve major fleets. They often compete or partner with OEMs and must also partner with airline and other local players to secure access to important markets.
The MRO market looks very different to these global MROs. Effective competition requires a broad set of special skills, but also requires much more.
Anne Brachet, executive vice president of Air France-KLM Engine & Maintenance, says all MRO experts expect the MRO market to continue growing in line with current trends. But due to consolidation among both OEMs and airlines, “the MRO market is getting to be more and more a business for giants, with major long-term deals, stronger pressure on prices and increasing financing needs.”
Brachet’s MRO has the same experience and faces the same challenges as other major airline shops. She believes AFI-KLM E&M is thus well placed to offer the adaptive answers and cost-effective solutions that it uses to support its parent carriers. “A good example is the mega-contract we recently announced with AirAsia for A320Neo support.” Moreover, developing a worldwide MRO network allows AFI-KLM E&M to meet the increasing need for competitiveness, proximity and dedication.
Brachet also sees the MRO industry experiencing major technological changes, which require constant adaptation and development of technical skills. “That's why we launched our MRO Lab innovation program, which relies on internal innovations and partnerships with universities and start-up companies.” She says the Lab is already providing new tools and knowledge to support simpler, easier and faster maintenance solutions for customers.
One of these technology changes is that the latest generation of aircraft can be thought of as ‘computers with wings.’ Brachet says this will mean both e-operations and Big Data opportunities. In order to exploit the new data opportunities, AFI KLM E&M recently launched PROGNOS, a predictive maintenance solution based on Big Data. PROGNOS came out of the MRO Lab program.
The new aircraft also make much wider use of composites. AFI-KLM E&M anticipated this need by opening a cutting-edge aero structures facility, Aircraft Related Components with 18,500 square meters of space, at Paris Charles De Gaulle Airport.