Does Your Business Have An Innovation Environment?

Some MRO providers are learning to adapt and thrive in today’s “age of accelerations.”

In his book Thank You for Being Late, Thomas Friedman advocates that people need to learn to quickly adapt and innovate to thrive in today’s “age of accelerations.” He offers an idea of how you can keep up with technological advances and disruptions without making your head spin. While Moore’s Law—Intel Co-Founder Gordon Moore’s 1965 prediction that computing power would double every two years—might be slowing to 2.5-3 years, the rapid pace of change can be badly disruptive if people cannot keep up. For businesses, not addressing this issue will mean failure.

Does your business have an innovative environment? James Kornberg, AFI KLM E&M’s director of engineering and maintenance innovation, says companies “need a good ecosystem around innovation” to foster it and a willingness to embrace ideas from academics and students, too.

“Innovation needs time,” he says, so allow a long enough period for people to fail, or else they will get pulled into other projections before success can be achieved. “If you look at the [return on investment] first, you don’t invest,” Kornberg says, adding, “start small” and allow failures. “If you don’t accept this, you can only follow,” he told attendees at the Aviation Week Network’s MRO Baltics, Eastern Europe and Russia event in mid-May in Sofia, Bulgaria (page MRO24).

Magnetic MRO CEO Risto Maeots says the Estonian MRO company “puts a lot of emphasis on innovation” and takes advantage of being in a country with many startups. Magnetic is working with a startup now on augmented reality glasses “to show customers how airplanes will look in a new livery before it happens,” Maeots says. He expects the project will cost “a five-figure-Euro number to develop.”

Turkish Technic plans to start using drones for aircraft inspections within a few months to cut aircraft-on-ground (AOG) turnaround times and costs—and to make technicians’ jobs easier, says Birkan Guneralp, senior vice president for base maintenance. “Having an aircraft out of service on AOG because of a lightning strike is expensive.”

Innovation can also be a marketing and recruitment tool, points out Maeots. Kornberg agrees—especially on the recruitment side. “Young people have a choice, and we need to show them that they can have a great work experience and that there are a lot of innovative tools they can use,” he says. In a nutshell, “innovate or die,” he says. “Make life easier for customers and technicians.”

The global fleet will gain about 20,000 new commercial aircraft over the next decade.

Are you going to be empowered by change and embrace Friedman’s advice, or are you going to get stuck in a constant transition to keep up? Think big. 

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