P1030547.jpg Sean Broderick/AWST

Prominent Positioning

AAR has diversity, heft to beat back OEM pushes.

AAR Corp. is a pretty big player in the aftermarket game. It's the largest third-party airframe provider in the Americas, Aviation Week's latest survey shows. The company generates about $1.8 billion in annual sales—more than 80% from its aftermarket work, including both civil and defense.

So it stands to reason that AAR is paying close attention to Boeing Global Services, the most visible of multiple OEM efforts to capture the type of aftermarket work that AAR, which does not service engines, chases.

"Our relationship with Boeing today is their supplier, their customer and their competitor," says David Storch, AAR CEO, noting that Boeing was one of the competitors that AAR beat out for a recently awarded flydubai 737 Max component support deal. 

Storch sees AAR as well-positioned with deep expertise on platforms from multiple OEMs. Not long after the flydubai deal, it announced a similar agreement with Hawaiian Airlines for Airbus A321neos, for instance.

"I think we offer speed, customer familiarization, [and] a broader product line offering in that we can support not just your Boeing fleet but also your Airbus and Bombardier and Embraer fleets," Storch says. "And this is our core fundamental business."

AAR has spent the last several years building its supply chain businesses, but its airframe MRO activities--which truly set it apart from the OEMs--are not being ignored. In just the last week, it has snapped up two former Pinnacle Aviation shops and cut three new deals with Air Canada, extending A320 and Embraer 190 airframe work and landing 767 work. It is poised to announce a narrowbody airframe deal with a major U.S. carrier—bet on United Airlines—that will ensure its Duluth, Minn., shop stays busy. And it's still hunting for its first long-term customer at its Rockford, Ill., widebody facility.

In sum, AAR is growing, has room for more, and is winning work against tough competition. Including Boeing.

Says Storch: "We feel good about our positioning."

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