Reflecting on a year in MRO

As my time as editor at MRO Network draws to a close today, my thoughts have naturally turned to when I joined the team last year. As a layman my associations with commercial aviation were, like so many others, that of the glamour and excitement of exploring the world. So when the opportunity arose to see behind the scenes, to dig a little deeper and see the reality of what keeps our world moving, I could not resist.

The past year has been an unending education about a wonderfully complex industry. A geeky paradise of aircraft, engines, endless acronyms and the most passionate and dedicated people you are ever likely to meet. An industry that is spread across the world and yet keeps a strong sense of community; one where you will attend events all over the globe and see familiar faces.

As a newcomer I could not begin to appreciate the challenges of maintaining commercial aircraft – the regulatory demands; the intricacy of the work involved; the diverse range of skills that are needed; the highly competitive market; the pressures on turnaround time and costs; and the impact of new technologies.

Coupled with this you are working with an industry that has, with the notable exception of the revitalised North American carriers, the smallest of profit margins and is buffeted by global economics and geopolitical issues over which it has no control – so poignantly demonstrated by the tragic downing of MH17 a year ago today.

The commercial aviation MRO market is a tough one by any measure, but it is populated with people who are dedicated to ensuring the safety of the three billion passengers who travel each year.

Who do this broadly without the recognition of the flying public and who do it with a desire to innovate, to provide their customers – both internal and external – with more cost-effective, safer and more valuable maintenance programmes.
It was with immense pleasure that I got to help provide some of that much-deserved, and often missing, appreciation at the ATE&M Awards at the end of May.

And now, on my last day at MRO Network, I want to thank all of you in the MRO sector who have welcomed me, been patient with me and taught me so much about this underappreciated industry.

I have the greatest respect for what you do and I thank you for sharing it with me.

It’s true that this industry gets in your blood and I know I will never look up to the sky in quite the same way again.

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