IATA’s latest forecast is for a very healthy 6.0% growth in world passenger traffic in 2019. But continued confusion over Brexit might cause concern about some local markets, for instance UK-EU MRO trade.
Nevertheless, UK-based Aeroco, which specializes in cabin maintenance and upgrades for UK and EU carriers, does not foresee any downturn yet, according to Sales Director Dave Norton. “Who knows what will happen in the future, but we are really asking ourselves what is Brexit going to mean?” Norton explains.
“It’s very hard to plan for something that’s unchartered territory. We’re working closely with the CAA and in turn they’re trying to be as helpful as they can offering guidance and regular updates. Businesses fear the unknown or are extremely cautious. which is to be expected. We like what we know, but that doesn’t mean opportunity isn’t around the corner. Only time will tell.”
Meanwhile, Aeroco has been betting on continued growth, having just opened a new facility close to Manchester Airport. The facility provides an additional 40,000 square feet of space and includes new machinery and tooling to support the company’s Part-21G manufacturing department, a new seat shop and a dedicated paint shop for aircraft components. “We will also be adding composite and other component repairs in the near future,” Norton says.
The sales exec says the new facility will also require adding staff, and that will be a challenge in his market. “There’s at least a generation of engineers missing from a lack of apprenticeships or gaps in training paths and recognized skills.” Although the industry and regulators are addressing the challenge, their long-term solutions will not provide much short-term help.
So, “we’ve taking things into our own hands and are developing bespoke internal training programs utilizing ELMS [an electronic logbook management system that evaluates and manages mechanic competencies],” Norton says. “We’re actually the first C-rated Part-145 Repair Station to adopt the system, emphasizing the importance we place on staff development, regulatory compliance and providing opportunity to grow from within.”