The challenge of used serviceable materials (USM) shortages on in-demand engine families such as the CFM56 and the V2500 isn’t likely to alleviate over the next 18-24 months, a panel at MRO Asia-Pacific heard.
James Bennett, director of sales and marketing at UK-based mid to end of life aircraft specialist AerFin, doesn’t see things changing in the short-term, which he categorizes as a 12-24-month period. However, a possible wave of aircraft retirements could have a significant impact. “If the retirements then start picking up, then we might see some relief,” he says.
Mike Stengel, senior associate at AeroDynamic Advisory, agrees with Bennett’s assessment of the USM market. “Retirements are the best thing near-term to provide relief to the supply chain,” he says. “The only other relief valve I see which is far less likely is if you could suddenly start additive manufacturing cast turbine blades on a mass scale but that is certainly not going to happen in the next five years. OEMs are still being cautious about how far they implement these kinds of technologies and processes."
Stengel says narrowbody aircraft being centered on two engine types has led to OEMs establishing support centers, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region, focusing on services for these models.
“If an operator isn’t using a CFM56 or a V2500, and instead operating a CF34 or an RB211, then support options are far less limited,” he says. Eventually, Stengel believes there needs to be some realignment of the OEMs focus on how they balance capacity across different engine models.
The future role of parts manufacturer approval (PMA) components was also discussed, with PMAs accounting for a very small part of the market at around 3%. AerFin’s Bennett doesn’t see PMA market penetration growing in core engines, but it may do outside of this in areas like accessories and non-engine parts.
“Even if you allow PMA, you still face the choke point of castings and their suppliers are not investing in additional capacity--instead choosing to enjoy the pricing power they have right now,” AeroDynamic Advisory’s Stengel adds.