Always On Call 

Forrest Gump once quipped “Life is like a box of chocolates: you never know what you're going to get.” The same can be said for the business of repairing aircraft on ground, or AOG. When the phone rings, AOG professionals never know what kind of repair they're going to get or where they're going to go—or whether customs will even let them into the country.

Composite Evolution

Composite structures have been around for decades, but the last few years have seen explosive growth in their use and development. Forthcoming jets like the Airbus A350 and the Boeing 787 boast that at least half their airframes are constructed from these advanced materials, compared to with just 11% on the Boeing 777 or, to go way back, just 1% on the early 747-100. Composites have taken a foothold in large, primary structural areas—for instance, the Learjet 85 will have both its fuselage and wing built primarily from carbon composites, the first business jet to do so.

Safety on the Front Lines

Here’s a wake-up call to the maintenance industry: More than half of all maintenance managers in a May 2010 Baines Simmons Americas survey* think their employees complete jobs despite the non-availability of specified tools or equipment. Another 16% said they believe their employees have signed off for uncompleted work due to limited time or resources. And one in 10 managers admitted their line supervisors would approve a mechanic’s actions if he didn’t follow procedures in order to get an aircraft out.

Airbus Aircraft Present Opportunities for MROs 

Look up, and you'll notice something new in the skies over North America -- a steadily growing fleet of Airbus aircraft. Today there are more than 900 Airbus aircraft operating here, up from just 380 in 1998. Or look at it this way: Five years ago, the European planemaker was delivering about one aircraft per month to operators across the Atlantic; today, it delivers two per week to its North American customers. Boeing-made aircraft still comprise a significant majority of the North American and worldwide fleets (see chart, p.

Component Support Seen in New Light Companies large and small are expanding their capabilities to capture the increased airline outsourcing business that many predict. 

Growth in the component support business is a lot like the search for extraterrestrial life: many believe it's out there, but few have seen any evidence of it. Like almost every other facet of aviation, component support has experienced a sharp slowdown over the past year-and-a-half or so, but those in the business say a rebound is coming and they are investing millions of dollars in new facilities and new capabilities for when that day arrives. It may not be far off.

A Futuristic LOOK AT MRO 

Year: 2020. En route from New York to Los Angeles, the condition monitoring system aboard a Boeing 737 detects an impending part failure. It alerts ground staff, who run a quick analysis of the plane's schedule over the next few days and a history of the part's performance in that specific airplane. They determine the part has six cycles remaining before failure, but opt to fix it on the ground in Los Angeles, dispatching to the gate a technician with a replacement part and the correct tools to install it.

Aerospace Expo: Survival of the Fittest 

The aerospace industry is a tough place to be right now, and it's not simply the events of Sept. 11 that have made it so. Consolidation continues; major manufacturers are signing longer-term agreements with fewer suppliers; and customers increasingly are demanding lower costs, faster turntimes and higher quality. These combine to present suppliers with a unique set of challenges, many of which were addressed at Aviation Week's Aerospace Expo 2001 held Oct. 16-18 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Eye on the Prize 

One year after it took over the maintenance assets of Philippine Airlines (PAL), Lufthansa Technik Philippines (LTP) is preparing to transform the former PAL facilities at Ninoy Aquino International Airport here into a modern Airbus A330/A340 overhaul center. The facilities today remain largely unchanged since LTP opened last September, but Marc Szepan, vice president of aircraft overhaul, said there will be ``a major push'' to upgrade and modernize beginning this month [in December].

The e-Commerce Revolution: Is it Living Up to Expectations? 

What a difference a year makes. Twelve to 18 months after the heady launches of roughly a dozen aviation e-commerce sites, all dizzy over the untapped potential of e-commerce in the aviation industry, that seemingly fertile ground is starting to look an awful lot like a battlefield. It is strewn with the now-lifeless bodies of companies such as AviationX,, and Other companies have been bloodied in the battle for survival -- PartsBase, for instance, was struggling in August to keep its sagging stock listed on the Nasdaq.

E-commerce: The Supplier's View 

When a dozen or so aviation e-commerce companies announced plans to launch online exchanges last year, there was concern among suppliers that prices would fall, profit margins would erode and business would become predominantly about price rather than quality and service.

Ramp Rash Burns the Bottom Line 

There are three guarantees in life: death, taxes and the fact that if you have aircraft and ground equipment moving in close proximity to one another, eventually they're going to make contact. With the number of passengers and flights in the U.S. continuing to rise, that means more aircraft and equipment moving around the ramp and thus more potential for aircraft damage.

Tough Times in a Tough Business 

If you want to start some heads nodding, ask anyone in the aircraft component maintenance business whether things are tougher today than they were even as recently as two years ago. You'll get an emphatic ``yes!'' from companies of all sizes and specialties, and their reasons will read like a roller coaster blueprint: costs are up, prices are down, quality is up, turntimes are down.

P&W Chases Green by Going Green 

Pratt&Whitney has been pushing hard to incorporate environmentally friendly manufacturing and repair processes throughout its engine businesses. The OEM has been working on ways to eliminate hazardous materials from its engines for 10 to 15 years, but formalized the initiative in mid-1999. Most of the ``green'' processes developed so far are being used on the manufacturing side, but ultimately they'll be shifted to the repair side and in some cases that shift has already occurred.


The aircraft engine component repair business these days is not for the faint of heart. Heightened customer expectations and aggressive competition from original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are forcing companies -- OEMs included -- to find ways to decrease turntimes, lengthen part life cycles, lower prices and bolster customer service. Businesses also are developing new technologies to repair parts that even a year ago routinely were replaced when damaged.

Raising the Bar: Creating a New Breed of AMT 

Picture this: You've just hired a new maintenance technician right out of A&P school and he has the knowledge and hands-on skills to quickly become productive maintaining large commercial aircraft. What's more, his certification meets FAA, JAA and Transport Canada requirements.

Special Topics
May 18, 2015

Fire In the Cabin 2

While installing a fireplace in a cabin clearly would be a bad idea, Lufthansa Technik develops a technology that uses illuminated water mist with an image of burning wood to create a fireplace for VIP aircraft....More
May 15, 2015

Cardington: Britain’s Airship Heritage 2

Construction of Cardington’s Number 1 shed, currently housing the HAV project, began in 1916 when Construction of Cardington’s No. 1 shed, currently housing the HAV project, began in 1916 when Short Brothers was awarded an Admiralty contract for the development of dirigible airships....More
May 11, 2015

NavWeek: China Coastal Catch 8

China last year accelerated its plans to “reclaim” areas like the Spratly Islands, and the Asian giant is banking on its coast guard to protect its disputed maritime stakes in the region, according to the Pentagon....More
May 10, 2015

Ethiopian Airlines Takes Delivery Of Newest 737-800

Ethiopian Airlines' fleet renewal and growth continued this week with the delivery of a new Boeing 737-800 from Seattle. Routing through Washington-Dulles and then Dublin, Ireland, the latest 737NG is Ethiopian's 16th. Since 2010, the East African carrier has taken delivery of 25 Boeing 737/777/787s as well as 13 Bombardier DHC8-Q400 regional turbo aircraft. One of the fastest-growing and most modern of African airlines, Ethiopian also has a burgeoning MRO business....More
May 7, 2015

Vantage Searches For An Advantage 3

It's easy to see why the composite machine turns heads; it sits high on a fighter-jet type landing gear, has a spaceship-like cockpit and those forward-swept wings, which beyond looking awesome, allow for a larger cabin as the main structure for the wings can be behind the seating area....More

Sign up to Aviation Week Newsletter

Daily analysis on technology advances impacting the global aviation, aerospace & defense industries.

Sponsored Introduction Continue on to (or wait seconds) ×