Boeing Scores High In Aftermarket Support Survey

An Air Transport World/Aviation Week survey of airlines ranks Boeing as the best aftermarket-support OEM.

Aviation Week asked airlines around the world to rate aircraft manufacturers’ aircraft reliability and aftermarket support performance. The survey, conducted by Air Transport World in September, revealed that the most preferred manufacturer of narrowbody and widebody aircraft is Boeing.

In the narrowbody category, Airbus ranked second and was followed by Embraer. Airbus also placed second in the widebody ranking, followed by McDonnell Douglas (which is part of Boeing) in third.

More than 540 aviation professionals took the survey (see survey respondents below) that placed the Boeing 737 as the highest-ranking narrowbody model, followed by the A320. The Boeing 777-300ER captured the most-preferred-widebody aircraft votes.

In terms of best overall aftermarket support, Boeing scored significantly higher than the other OEMs by garnering a 57% preference vote. Airbus ranked second, and Embraer came in third (see chart). However, when looking at individual areas of support, the companies are closer.

On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 meaning poor and 5 excellent, airlines rated OEM aftermarket support in seven areas.

The mean scores of the top seven manufacturers ranged from 4.6 for Boeing to 3.7 for Bombardier in the MRO reliability category, which is a significant spread. Airbus placed second with a 4.3, followed by McDonnell Douglas with 4.1. DeHavilland scored the highest in the regional aircraft category—with a 4.0—followed by Embraer and ATR. However, deHavilland’s parent company—Bombardier— scored the lowest in the MRO reliability area.

MRO costs are a hot topic with the industry—especially when discussing spare parts price escalations by OEMs and their increasing dominance in the aftermarket. The survey asked two MRO-cost-related questions: one on the manufacturers’ cost-effectiveness and one on the availability and pricing of replacement parts (see charts).

The deviation between manufacturers was greater in the spare-parts pricing question than in the overall cost-effectiveness query.

Survey respondents ranked Boeing (4.2), Airbus (4.0) and ATR (3.9) as the top three in overall MRO cost-effectiveness.

However, when asked about spare parts availability and pricing, Boeing scored a 4.2—followed by Embraer and McDonnell Douglas tying for second at 3.9 and Airbus and ATR trailing with 3.8. DeHavilland scored the lowest at 3.5, which is the lowest MRO score that any OEM received for any question.

A bright spot for OEMs is field support. With the exception of Bombardier and deHavilland, all the OEMs scored 4.0 or higher in this category. Boeing earned the top spot with 4.4 and Airbus, ATR and McDonnell Douglas each scored 4.2. Embraer followed with 4.0.

Another area where airframe OEMs performed well is the availability of technical documentation, which is a bit surprising given strong industry concern about lack of access to Instructions for Continued Airworthiness and repair manuals—as evidenced by the Aeronautical Repair Station Association’s strong statements about this problem.

Boeing’s mean score for technical documentation availability is 4.5, closely followed by Airbus and McDonnell Douglas at 4.3; ATR, deHavilland and Embraer each scored 4.1.

When focusing on new-aircraft service support, the OEMs fared well. For entry-into-service support in terms of MRO, Boeing again held the top spot—with a 4.5 mean score—followed by Airbus at 4.4. ATR and Bombardier each ranked at 4.2, followed by McDonnell Douglas (4.1) and Embraer (4.0).

Airlines marked the manufacturers a little lower, however, in tooling and spares support for new aircraft. Boeing scored significantly higher than Airbus, Embraer, ATR and Bombardier in this category. Boeing’s mean score is 4.4, with Airbus following at 4.1 and ATR at 4.0.

When asked about how manufacturers performed when offering training for servicing new aircraft, Boeing received a 4.5 mean score, followed by Airbus (4.3), McDonnell Douglas (4.3) and ATR (4.2).

The survey also asked airlines about on-time delivery of new aircraft. Airbus and Embraer tied for the top spot in this area, with a mean score of 4.2. ATR, Boeing and Bombardier all averaged 4.1. Given that Aviation Week fleet and forecast data predict aircraft manufacturers will deliver 21,576 new aircraft over the next decade, these strong scores are a good sign.

The survey also asked airlines several questions about OEMs in relation to fleet operations. Boeing (4.4), Airbus (4.2) and ATR (4.0) earned the highest marks for reliability; Bombardier, deHavilland and McDonnell Douglas tied for the lowest score—3.8.

But when asked to rank airframe OEMs on durability, Boeing and McDonnell Douglas scored a 4.5, Airbus, ATR and deHavilland tied for second at 4.1. Embraer and Bombardier followed with scores of 4.0 and 3.9, respectively. It is interesting to note that all of the regional aircraft manufacturers scored higher in the durability category than on the reliability scale. 

Survey Respondents

More than 540 aviation professionals answered the Aviation Week/Air Transport World survey that requested they rank more than 20 airframe manufacturers on aspects of flight operations and MRO. The majority of respondents either work in airline flight operations/operations planning (44%) or airline maintenance and engineering (27%). Seventy percent of survey respondents work for an international airline, and the majority are based in North America (48%), Europe (23%) or the Asia-Pacific region (20%).

This marks the first time ATW has conducted this survey.

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