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How The MRO World Has Changed In 2018

Looking at the most important developments in MRO worldwide during 2018.

Printed headline: It’s a Wrap

“How fortunate we are to be in this growth industry!” Mike Fleming, Boeing’s vice president of Commercial Services, recently said that about the MRO industry in general, but that well summarizes my sentiments as I look back at this year.

Here are some highlights from 2018:

  • MRO contracts start with a B instead of an M: Boeing announced nearly $1 billion in service orders at the Singapore Airshow in February and $2.1 billion at the Farnborough Airshow in July. CFM signed two $1 billion contracts Nov. 15 at the Bahrain International Air Show that include services agreements—one with Gulf Air and another with SaudiGulf Airlines. Airshows are usually dominated by new aircraft and engine orders,  but increasingly they are showcasing MRO agreements as well. These announcements also demonstrate how important the aftermarket is becoming.
  • The MRO industry captured much attention from investors, as service companies looked to expand their breadth and depth—and private equity saw opportunity in this growing market.
  • Data scientists and analysts made great strides in using data to make MRO more predictable and efficient. Airbus expanded its Skywise platform to suppliers. Lufthansa Technik added partners, apps and customers to its Aviatar platform. Uptake started working with Rolls-Royce to find ways to optimize its Trent engine fleet performance with machine learning. The number of participants and accomplishments in this space is large.
  •  More maintenance programs are moving to on-condition, and more repair is happening on-wing.
  •  Offering customized work scopes to balance value and costs—across life cycles—is expected. 
  •  The quest to go paperless is slow (really slow), but more airlines and MROs implemented solutions and tools to get there—or at least partially get there.
  •  Supply chains became more nimble and efficient—through partnerships, merger and technologies.
  •  Many 3D-printing partnerships and projects took off.
  •  Smart tools, from inspection systems to NDT, are providing mechanics more information at the point of work.
  •  The industry is healthy and supports about 26,000 commercial aircraft.
  •  Passenger- and cargo-demand momentum have been strong, which is keeping older aircraft flying. Fuel prices have remained low, and airlines are making healthy profits. Because airlines are making money, as Sean Broderick points out in our cover story, they can plan maintenance more strategically, unlike leaner years when it was all about keeping costs as low as possible in the short term.
  •  Profitable airlines are also booking MRO slots further out due to longer-term maintenance agreements, which provides MROs with stability and should foster benefits for both operators and their service providers. 

Behind all of this, of course, are people—people with passion for continual improvement, innovation, safety first and customer service. Thank you for being part of our MRO community and thank you for your contributions in making this a growing and dynamic industry. 

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