The way airlines are maintaining their fleets is changing in myriad ways—something documented regularly, and with more regularity, on MRO-Network.com. But sometimes, focusing on what's changing blurs what is still the bigger portion of the entire picture—what's still the same.
Results of a recent survey by analysts at Jefferies helped hammer this home. The survey of about 20 aftermarket providers was conducted in early January. Representatives covered much of the aftermarket population, including airline MROs, third-party independent providers, and OEM-affiliated shops. Jefferies estimates that the respondents combine for an aggregate annual revenue total of about $5 billion, roughly 8% of the total MRO market.
Among some big-picture takeaways that are worth remembering while engaging in some MRO trend-spotting: Connectivity is not yet having overwhelming influence on airline maintenance. While reports of real-world case studies show that connectivity and analytics are driving change at the maintenance-program level—Cathay Pacific's experience with Honeywell APUs is a prime example—nearly 60% of respondents said connectivity has not changed the maintenance cycle. Among the respondents that said change is happening, half said there is now less maintenance being done thanks to better predictability, while the other half said more work is taking place,"given required updates."
The used-serviceable materials (USM) market, another area often cited as a strengthening, also may be getting too much credit. Sixty-five percent of Jefferies respondents said USM is having no impact on "servicing aircraft, number of parts used, or order volume."
The influence of pooling is also downplayed by survey respondents. Despite reports from some suppliers of lower-than-anticipated initial provisioning (IP) and a steady stream of pooling agreements, 65% of the Jefferies respondents said pooling has not changed airline behavior with regard to spare parts inventory.
The survey's data points don't refute that change is in the air. For instance, 35% of respondents saying pooling has shifted airline spares strategies is not insignificant. Rather than take the trends as absolutes the survey helps underscore that change, while perhaps inevitable, is rarely instant.