Although Latin America accounts for 6% of the world’s commercial aircraft, it buys only 3% of PMA parts, according to Richard Brown, a principal at ICF. Can this imbalance be changed?
Lee Kapel is CEO of TSI Aviation, which sells OEM and PMA parts, as well as repair services, mostly to Caribbean and Latin American carriers. TSI distributes OEM parts for major aerospace OEMs like Honeywell, United Technologies and L3, and also offers PMA parts. However, “PMAs are very difficult to sell in this market,” Kapel says. “You mention PMAs, and you run into tremendous resistance.”
Kapel recalls one major PMA sale about ten years ago, a set of engine blades to GOL, with significant savings. But there has not been much since. “We tried to sell PMA seating, and other non-safety-critical parts,” she says. “But they still say PMA is a bad word, it diminishes value and PMAs are hard to track.”
Engine PMAs are of course the toughest sell. TSI once tried to sell a PMA starter for a Honeywell engine. The OEM parts were taking 90 to 120 days to deliver, and Wencor had the PMA substitute part in stock. Moreover, the PMA was significantly less expensive. Still, no deal.
Kapel says many Latin American carriers now send out purchase orders with no-PMA clauses.
Kapel, who is a member of several aviation supply committees, is meeting on October 26 with a Latin airline committee, including a vice president of Avianca who has favored PMAs, to see if PMA hurdles can be overcome.
She says by far the biggest hurdle has been lessor resistance to PMAs. Latin regulators generally do not get involved in PMA use. “There is so much testing to prove PMAs are equal to or better than OEM parts,” Kapel notes. So progress depends on breaking down lessor resistance, or getting airlines to resist lessor demands.