Problems or Prospects for PMA Parts?

PMA parts remain one of the few means available to airlines of mitigating parts price inflation – with some being 20 to 40 per cent cheaper than their OEM equivalents. This potentially means big savings in maintenance materials budgets, which run to about five per cent of an airline’s total operating costs today.

However, several factors still inhibit the further adoption of PMA, including the growing prevalence of OEM aftermarket programmes, fears that warranties could be voided, and the long-standing problem of lessors worrying that such parts will reduce the residual value of their assets.

OEM penetration into the aftermarket runs deepest in the engine market, which covers some of the highest value PMA parts. “Although there is a lot of money in engines, the greatest potential [for PMA] is in airframes [because] the engine aftermarket is more tightly controlled by OEMs and leasing companies,” says Jason Caldwell, EVP global sales and marketing for Wencor. 

However, the relationship between OEMs and PMAs is, in some respects, changing. “A lot of PMAs today are suppliers to OEMs because OEMs recognise that these guys are making good parts and that they can make them just as cheaply as other suppliers,” observes Jason Dickstein, president of the Modification and Replacement Parts Association (MARPA), which represents the PMA industry. “When one of them can help the other make money they set aside their differences and work together.”

But other challenges are emerging for PMA companies. The shift to new generation aircraft and engines limits the potential market somewhat, as these programmes won’t require replacement parts in large quantities for many years to come. And as growing numbers of older models are sold for scrap, the market for spares becomes saturated, potentially depressing PMA values as cheap, refurbished original material becomes available.

Counterbalancing all these challenges are new market opportunities. Latin America may represent PMA’s biggest growth market, while Asia should be seen as one of the best long-term opportunities for PMA providers. Dickstein singles out Japan and China. “The Japanese market is cautious with PMA but very accepting of it once they have gone through the due diligence and the engineering,” he comments. Rapid fleet growth in China also makes that market extremely attractive, and the country does not need to be won over by the advantages of PMA, according to Dickstein.

For the full article on the PMA parts market, see the upcoming October-November issue of Aircraft Technology Engineering & Maintenance, out soon.

TAGS: Components
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