Korean Air will look to grow its share of third-party work in the coming years, particularly in the engine MRO segment.
Soo-Keun Lee, Korean Air’s executive vice president and chief technology officer, says to date, the airline has mainly focused on its own fleet, a mix of Boeing, Airbus and most recently, Bombardier aircraft which stood at 175 as of January 2018.
“We have been developing necessary maintenance capabilities for airframes, engines and components, primarily to support our own fleet in operation,” says Soo-Keun Lee, Korean Air’s executive vice president and chief technology officer. “Therefore, third-party work is currently limited to 10% of in-house work, which generates around $120 million per year. We will continually expand the portion of third-party work, especially in engine MRO."
Lee feels that an effective way of achieving this will be through establishing further cooperations with OEMs. The airline already runs an engine test cell joint venture with Pratt & Whitney, Incheon Aviation Tech Co., which began operating in summer 2016.
Since opening 18 months ago, Lee says the center has completed 120 engine tests, including some third party MRO engines on PW4168, PW4170, PW4090 and GE90 engines.
“We’re continuously looking for possible ways to work with OEMs or other airliners, to keep up with the current Global MRO trend,” Lee says.
“Although we do not have a specific, materialized plan yet for a joint venture in the near-term, we will pursue the opportunity to come up with a strategically win-win business model in which we can focus on developing in-house capability together with OEMs or other airlines for new high-tech areas of the digitalized aircraft, while outsourcing less competitive areas to those who are capable.”
Read an in-depth interview with Soo-Keun Lee in the March issue of Inside MRO.