Consultants have long recommended consolidation in the aerospace supply chain, especially in the aftermarket. By acquiring Goodrich Corp. in July 2012, United Technologies Corp. (UTC) moved in the recommended direction. But acquisition by itself is just a rearrangement of numbers on a ledger. Reaping the potential efficiency gains requires hard work to integrate newly acquired assets effectively.
Another kind of investment relates to but is not the same as investment in new-model support. LHT recently announced it will put €200 million ($276 million) into innovation and research over the next four years. The commitment should improve LHT’s overall capabilities on both legacy aircraft that show up in shops more frequently than new models and on new types that pose novel challenges.
Maintenance execs frequently worry about the supply of well-trained technicians, yet somehow skilled technicians always seem to be forthcoming as long as wages are sufficient. But will there always be enough well-trained maintenance managers? Here, the challenge is quality, not quantity. How can managers up their game as the demands of aircraft maintenance change? New models, new systems and new materials are always coming into fleets, and OEMs generally supply the training to handle the new technologies. But maintenance is changing in more fundamental ways, too.
With aircraft retiring younger, used parts will play an increasing role in the aftermarket. As volumes increase, parts dealers, lessors, MROs and others seem to be moving into the aircraft disassembly business, rather than relying on independent teardown facilities to feed them. Does this upstream integration make sense? Will it work?