MRO Market In Period Of Transition

Compiling Aviation Week’s Top 10 Airframe MROs list shows how aftermarket companies are preparing for the future.

A few things strongly resonated with me in compiling this issue, one of which is that it’s a lucky accident that we scheduled our biennial Top 10 Airframe MRO compilation the month after delivering the 10-year forecast. This is not because they each share a 10, but because the Top 10 deeply examines how MROs are succeeding in the $56.3 billion market (see page MRO4).

The global commercial fleet is undergoing a huge shift, which is evident by the number of MROs that are adding capabilities for aircraft such as the Airbus A320neo and A350 and Boeing 787 and 737 MAX. But airline fleet decisions can be fluid, as they shift deliveries—whether due to fuel prices, manufacturing schedules or the availability of earlier delivery slots.

At the same time, support decisions for older aircraft—including their ownership and residual value—result in a lot of moving parts that make it harder to chart the MRO market easily. Business- plan assumptions can change fairly quickly during this dynamic time.

The Top 10 article highlights this. For instance, two major players that usually appear on the list chose not to deliver figures—SIAEC is in a quiet period before its financial results, and Ameco Beijing will be merging with Air China Technics later this month or in June. Ameco will remain a joint venture between Air China and Lufthansa, but it would not reveal any details about the change.

The pace of mergers has definitely picked up. Consolidation vaulted Haeco further up the list as a result of its acquisition of Timco Aviation Services in February 2014.

I spoke with Jim Sokol, president of Haeco America’s MRO Services, in April about the integration’s affects. He says employees see that sustainable, long-term decisions are being made—as well as visible improvements, from cleaning the hangars to launching the first retention program. Haeco’s rebranding also helped employees see the connection with the company’s Hong Kong and Xiamen, China, facilities.

Because consistency is a top priority, according to Sokol, best practices shared among the facilities and joint programs are being developed. For instance, some of the design, certification and integration work for Air Canada’s “777 Dream Cabin” program will be performed in Greensboro, North Carolina; engineers from Xiamen and Hong Kong will support it; interior products will be built in the U.S., and Haeco’s facilities in North Carolina and Hong Kong will install the interiors for the Boeing 777-200 and -300.

Efforts such as these position companies for growth and the future of their fleets. 

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