By Elyse Moody

By Elyse Moody
Focus On Fuel Savings
Airlines push old programs and new technologies to deliver big fuel savings.
Narrowbody Workload 

The narrowbody airframe MRO market continues to show signs of recovery from the worst points of the economic downturn, when even relatively young aircraft were parked to defray operational expenses and defer maintenance costs. The narrowbody airframe MRO market value grew slightly less in 2011 (which exhibited a rate of 0.6%) than it did in 2010, when market value increased by 1.4%. However, it continues the generally positive reversal from the same 12-month period in 2009–10, when the market value for narrowbody airframe MRO services contracted by 12.6%.

Widening Widebody Work
The Airbus A330 and Boeing 777 will dominate visits; hangars will get larger.
Middle East MRO Momentum

The Middle East aircraft maintenance market has commanded much growth and development in the past decade, driven largely by the success of Dubai International Airport and other hubs. Market-watchers expect the expansion of air traffic volume and fleet sizes in the region to continue, and MRO along with them. By 2015, the UAE will have more commercial aircraft than Japan, now the world's third-largest economy, says Bill Lay, PricewaterhouseCoopers' Dubai-based partner.

Top 10 Airframe MROs
O&M's comprehensive look at who's who in the post-recession airframe maintenance market.
O&M Salutes MRO of the Year Award Winners 

O&M picked this year’s MRO of the Year award winners based on their contributions to military and commercial fleet readiness, championship of new technologies, inclusion of methods to drive efficiency and outstanding customer service. Our 2011 honorees—Air New Zealand Technical Operations, Northrop Grumman Technical Services, Airworks India and Big Ass Fans—provide exemplary models for business leadership, particularly in the areas of smart expansion and green energy.

Geared Toward the Aftermarket

Pratt & Whitney has long touted the technological step-change its geared turbofan engine, which will first enter the market as the PurePower PW1000G on the Bombardier CSeries, will bring with it. The engine maker now has set its strategy to support the new engine family and plans to launch its PureSolution program on April 12 at Aviation Week’s MRO Conference & Exhibition.

Desert Storm 

DUBAI—Temperatures as hot as 50 degrees C and sand as fine as talcum powder wreak havoc on aircraft in the Middle East, making operational efficiency a challenge for commercial operators here. These conditions translate into engine removals and system maintenance that come well before manufacturer-mandated repair cycles—as well as higher operational costs. To combat these conditions, maintenance managers at Saudi Aramco and Oman Air have worked with OEMs to correct problems and find ways to stop them before they begin.

Air Filtration Technology 

While photo-catalytic cabin air filtration systems provide benefits such as reduced weight, an alternate system is passive and has been shown to generate no contaminants that could make their way into the cabin. This alternative, developed by The Donaldson Co., combines a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter with an activated carbon filtration medium and will equip the Boeing 787.

Recognizing Innovation 

The AVIATION WEEK MRO of the Year Awards honor the best MRO and aftermarket entities around the world for value-adding achievements and innovations. This year, our winners realized marketable opportunities from merged airline maintenance departments, new material support and multi-skilled workforce strategies, restructured airframe and engine MRO processes, and innovative inspection methodologies. They’ll be recognized during a special ceremony at MRO Americas 2010 in Phoenix.

OEMs, Lessors See Opportunity in TurbopropsSpecialized Services 

While it doesn’t specialize in turboprops, BAE Systems sees signs that customers want specialized solutions, says spokesman David Dorman. One such customer is Condor Flugdienst, which enlisted BAE Systems' remarketing services for its 13 Boeing 757-300s.

Condor's aircraft will remain in operation while BAE seeks a financial institution or leasing company to buy its aircraft then lease them back to Condor. No modifications or upgrades are involved in the work for Condor; BAE purely will seek out entities interested in buying the 13 aircraft.

Stronger Structures 

The continued structural soundness of composite parts remains paramount as aerospace manufacturers embrace composites. One firm that produces adhesives for use in their making looks to tailor its product to the aviation industry’s specifications. Westech Aerosol primarily markets its InfuZene adhesive, which is designed to increase composites’ resilience, to the marine industry, but it aims to offer the product to aerospace repair and manufacturing operations, too, says Jennifer Downes, director of sales and marketing for Westech.

Civil, Military Support Buoy Middle East 

DUBAI—As O&M went to press, the financial uncertainty in Dubai had not been resolved. Abu Dhabi was considering whether to bail out its smaller, northeastern neighbor after the biannual Dubai Airshow came to a close. The November aerospace and defense event subtly foreshadowed this shift in capital and influence. Aftermarket requirements spurred several new developments in the down economy, and Abu Dhabi-based firms seemed to move into prime positions to take advantage of these opportunities.

Technology Tools 

PHOENIX—Using technology, aviation maintenance providers can find ways to optimize their customer service and support from the inside out. Honeywell Aerospace is one example of a firm that has used select, innovative communication and data tools to streamline its technical operations group. Its integrated components are designed not only to benefit Honeywell’s customers but also to give its engineers, field service representatives, sales staff and other employees a new resource for information on its products’ service histories.

ToP 10 AirframeMRO Providers 

Singapore Technologies Aerospace again sits atop our charts with more than eight million man-hours amassed in 2008, but O&M's biennial survey of the airframe MRO market reveals burgeoning competition in the lower ranks and changes in the middle ground. Data points to a shift among top players and illustrates the impact of the down economy on business. Companies interviewed by O&M cited negative market conditions ranging from parked aircraft to loss of major customers and shut downs of major facilities.

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