If a non-Latin American company is looking to establish a strong foothold in the Latin MRO market, it is a big advantage to specialize in supporting narrowbody aircraft, according STS Marketing Director Bryan Shaw. Latin America is expected to receive 1,000 additional aircraft over the next decade, and the great majority of those will be narrowbodies. “There is simply no capacity to support widebody maintenance in Latin America at this time,” Shaw says. “Third-party hangars just aren’t equipped. Narrowbody specialists have the edge in the region, and that likely won’t change in the near future.”
Shaw acknowledges that finding the right local workforce is often a hurdle for companies like STS. “Finding maintenance workers, onboarding them, training them and putting them to work takes a fair amount of time and effort for an American-based company conducting work in the region.”
But STS has some advantages in addition to its focus on narrowbodies, says Tom Covella, president of STS Component Solutions. Its nine divisions enable STS to offer an all-in-one solution to MRO demands. “Need narrowbody maintenance or overhaul support? We can do that. Need parts? We can do that, too. How about engineering or the creation of custom maintenance programs? At STS Aviation Group, we offer all of that and more under a singular corporate roof.”
The component exec believes Latin America is a great opportunity for surplus parts. “The airlines that we work with do not have issues with surplus parts, as long as the trace documents meet internal requirements and local aviation authority regulations.” STS is also seeing a growing acceptance of PMAs in Latin America. “But it is much more selective and based upon operator, lease terms and criticality of the component,” Covella says. “The biggest hurdles usually lie in an airline’s understanding and acceptance, local authority approvals and lease terms.”
Covella says Latin carriers have been open to flight-hour maintenance support, particularly in early stages of programs. Many major operators have entered into flight-hour agreements, but some also have exited programs. “Some programs have been cancelled and others added, so the net use probably hasn’t changed all that much.”
Covella says it is critical for any Latin supplier to support a broad range of OEM products. “We are seeing more airlines looking to consolidate their vendor bases, and the ability to provide a broad range of products and services is a key factor for success.” It is also helpful to offer vendor managed inventory programs, flexible credit terms and local part support.
STS Components plans on continuing to expand its presence in Latin America. “We have already increased staff and stock levels in the region,” Covella says. “We will continue to this on an as-needed basis.”