Boeing’s recent contract to provide landing gear exchange and overhaul for Aeromexico’s 787 fleet was another win for the OEM’s growing services business.
Overall, however, the landing gear aftermarket offers less potential for new-generation aircraft than for older models.
This is because mean time between overhauls is rising as advances in materials and coatings help to extend maintenance intervals.
“OEMs and airlines are both driving for increased time between overhauls, and as the effective on-wing life of gear increases, new equipment sales naturally become more dominant [than aftermarket sales],” says Paul Lavigne, director, landing gear engineering, UTC Aerospace Systems, in an interview with Inside MRO.
Lavigne says that typical overhaul intervals are stretching from eight to up to 14 years, meaning that some aircraft only require one landing gear overhaul in their life, rather than the more typical two.
In time, landing gear systems might even evolve from life-limited parts to on-condition components – parts that only need replacing if they break of fail inspections.
The journey towards that state will feature increased use of composites, titanium and stainless steels; wear performance improvements such as non-metallic bearings; and enhanced corrosion protection through augmented use of nickel plating.
Health monitoring systems and attendant data analysis will further refine maintenance planning, allowing predictive and preventive maintenance and feeding into additional design improvements.
Meanwhile, higher system hydraulic pressures will enable smaller and lighter actuation systems, thus improving operational performance.
To find out more about how landing gear design and engineering has advanced over the last 20 years, and where it is going in the future, pick up the May issue of Inside MRO.