Ways MRO Is Expanding In Asia-Pacific

Training, techniques and tools for the anticipated burgeoning Asia-Pacific MRO workforce must be honed and implemented as soon as possible there and elsewhere.

MRO demand in the Asia-Pacific region will nearly double in the next decade. Is it surprising then that we’re seeing several significant joint ventures and new aftermarket support facilities and capabilities coming online?

One of the newest will open on Sept. 26—Sabena Technics’ component repair shop at Seletar Aerospace Park in Singapore. The MRO’s new 2,600 m2 (27,987 ft.2) facility will repair avionics, hydraulics, electromechanics, pneumatics and cabin equipment on site, a move that should lead to reduced costs because it is in region, according to a company executive.

Aviation Week Fleet and MRO Forecast data predicts that the region will generate $15.7 billion in 2016, but that figure climbs to $28.3 billion in 2025. Look at the corresponding fleet growth—it is forecast to climb from the approximately 8,400 aircraft in the region this year to nearly 12,700 aircraft by 2025.

China alone accounts for $4.6 billion of this year’s MRO demand figure and more than 5,100 in-service aircraft.

This need, of course, is linked to increasing passenger demand. Airbus’s Global Market Forecast predicts that air traffic will double over the next 15 years, with Asia-Pacific leading the growth.

Meeting this demand will require not just additional capacity but also efficiencies, technology and intellectual property, which is one reason joint ventures continue to proliferate in this region. We investigated who is doing what and why in our Asia-Pacific joint venture feature.

South Korea is taking another approach by forming the Aeropolis, a center for commercial and military MRO near Cheongju, which is known for high-tech industry. The government wants to establish a formidable MRO industry in South Korea, so it is offering tax and other incentives to aftermarket support companies setting up at the Aeropolis. Another advantage is that Korean students are attracted to the aerospace industry, so finding top talent isn’t the challenge it is in some other places.  

This is good, because Airbus predicts that 540,000 new technicians will be needed over the next 20 years globally. Boeing’s number is even higher—it foresees an overall need for 679,000 new maintenance technicians in the next two decades, according to its Current Market Outlook released in July. Of that number, 268,000 new technical personnel, or 39% of the total, will be required in the Asia-Pacific region. To put that in perspective, the Boeing report forecasts the next two highest new-technician demand areas to be Europe (127,000) and North America (118,000).

The industry has no choice but to keep up. To do so, it must reach out to young students to show them the opportunities and create strong apprentice programs. As part of this push to attract and retain an exemplary workforce, technologies to teach and reinforce training in new ways must be deployed (see MRO30 and MRO42).

We will explore all this and more at Aviation Week Network’s MRO Asia-Pacific in Singapore, Sept. 27-29. I hope to see you there. 

TAGS: Asia Pacific
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