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Why Next-Gen Aircraft Could Lead To More Outsourcing

Predictions for why next-generation aircraft and engines could prompt more airlines to outsource.

FRANKFURT--New aircraft fleet introductions could have a profound impact on how airlines approach maintenance. Adam Guthorn, director of Alton Aviation Consultancy, postulated this based on the fact operators could incur higher start-up costs, be required to buy expensive tooling for inhouse maintenance, and repairs will be more complex for next-gen aircraft—deterring “many operators from performing maintenance inhouse,” he said, speaking at Aviation Week’s ap&m.

If this premise holds true, that would result in in an increased demand for outsourced MRO.

Today, next-gen aircraft, such as the Airbus A320neo and Boeing 787-10, account for 13% of the 31,000 fleet, but by 2029, Guthorn says this will climb to 55% and the current generation fleet will decline to just 40%. Alton predicts the total commercial air transport fleet will grow to 46,000 over the next decade and the MRO market will climb from today’s $77 billion demand to $141 billion by 2029, which represents a 6.2% annualized growth rate.

Expect engine shop visits to grow at 3.5% over the next decade, in what is already a very tight capacity market. Not surprisingly, the majority of these engine shop visits will come from powerplants on narrowbody aircraft, which make up more than half of the fleet.

“Much to the delight of the MRO supply chain, the infamous shop visit ‘bow wave’ has finally arrived,” which is making shop visit slots very competitive given the early teething problems that engines such as the CFM Leap, Pratt & Whitney PW1000G and Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 experienced, he adds.

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