By Lee Ann Tegtmeier

By Lee Ann Tegtmeier
Billionaires Still Buying 

A solid sector of the aviation aftermarket not slipping is buoyed by money, and lots of it. Narrowbody and widebody VIP/VVIP aircraft completions seem to be sheltered from the economic turbulence, sheltered because of the owners and operators of these large luxury jets.

Paradigm Shift For MRO 

SINGAPORE—“We are moving into a new MRO paradigm where doing more of the same is no longer enough,” said William Tan, president and CEO of SIA Engineering Co. Operators mandating integrated service packages and OEMs expanding their MRO services have broadened the expanse of aftermarket contracts, which often means fewer suppliers providing more.

However, these packages require stronger relationships and alliances, said Tan. Combining strengths and growing synergies across the supply chain will be an integral part of MRO in the future, he believes.

Upgrading U.S. Navy Avionics 

The term ``net-centric warfare'' easily slips off people's tongues and often appears in the general news media. The concept seems simple and easy to understand: Coordinate all of the services so they can communicate with each other to be more effective during battle. Sure, easy. But think about coordinating all of the aircraft of a particular type, then coordinating all of the U.S Navy's aircraft, for instance, so they can communicate with each other.

Engine Diagnostics: More than Engines? 

The technology stemming from engine monitoring and diagnostics systems may save operators big bucks in the future. It appears engine OEMs and third-party sources are testing their technologies on things like auxiliary power units (APUs) and would be able to move beyond that if a customer awarded an application contract.

Goodrich Brings Technical Manual Production In-house 

Goodrich Aerostructures expects to save as much as $1.5 million a year in production costs as a result of its recently completed initiative to bring production of its component maintenance manuals and catalogues in-house. The project, which entailed integrating Enigma 3C Version 8, software that integrates content and commerce, into Goodrich's product lifecycle management system, ``generates a payback in about six months,'' said Jerry Kaptis, regional information technology director, Goodrich Aerostructures.

New Spec 2000 Boosts Data Reliability 

The industry has a new tool to decrease maintenance costs and improve component reliability. Air Transport Association's Spec 2000 Chapter 11 is a standard for aircraft and component reliability data that should save the aviation industry money by streamlining the way data is shared.

RFID Knowledge Enabled LOGISTICS 

The Department of Defense manages 4.5 million stock numbers, parts that are scattered around the world, and it needs to have a better sense of when items are used to make its logistics chain more efficient, said Michael Wynne, DOD acting under secretary.

LHT Finds North American Home in Tulsa 

This Oklahoma city is becoming Lufthansa Technik's North American home. Its corporate aviation MRO company BizJet International continually is adding services, including a 50,000-lb.-thrust test cell; Lufthansa Technik Composite Tulsa's revenue grew 40% in 2003; and its completions engineering company is broadening its base and clientele. With LHT planting its roots in Tulsa, should the industry expect Tulsa to be sprouting new aviation support businesses?

Honeywell Military Aftermarket Strategy 

With many U.S. military aircraft expected to operate for decades and with new airframes representing only a small fraction of the fleet for the foreseeable future, Honeywell has set its sights on the military modifications and upgrades market. An aircraft's life expectancy in the U.S. military is 40 years, and ``new aircraft represent only 1.5% to 2.5% of fielded inventory'' from 2004 to 2013, said Nasos Karras, Honeywell vice president of military and helicopter propulsion engines, systems and services.

PMA-OEM Competition Heats Up 

Independently produced Parts Manufacturer Approval (PMA) parts have gained credibility and volume over the past decade, yet they represent less than 5% of the total $8 billion parts market value, according to Eric Mendelson, Heico Aerospace president and CEO. That 5% has captured OEMs' attention, however, and several independent PMA manufacturers report that competition with OEMs ``is heating up.'' Competition usually drives down prices. Will increased competition from PMAs force the traditionally higher priced OEM parts lower?

Boeing's AHM Testing Almost Wrapped Up 

Boeing Commercial Aviation Services and its airline partners are expected to finish testing the initial version of the Boeing Airplane Health Management (AHM) system by the end of March. The airframe OEM has been working with American Airlines, Air France and Japan Airlines to test the AHM system, which monitors the health of aircraft inflight and relays color-coded maintenance faults in real-time so staff on the ground can ascertain how and when to correct a fault before the flight lands.

JetBlue Selects Jouve 

JetBlue took another big step toward a totally paperless environment, from flight operations to the maintenance hangars, by installing various Jouve Aviation Solutions' products in January. And by the end of February, Jouve's AirGTI's Task Manager will be integrated into the airline's VisAer's ERP system, which will go live by the end of the year, so they can feed into one another for further efficiencies.

OEMs Complicate MTU's Transition to Paperless System 

MTU Aero Engines, working with IT vendor Engima, hopes to complete an integrated web-based electronic information center in June 2004 to enable it to manage all its maintenance information. Enigma, which supplies MTU its support chain solution, said the companies are starting to migrate existing Xtend systems from CD to web, which will enable each system to become part of that centralized web-based solution. But some engine OEMs have injected a major complication into the process by switching the formats they use to disseminate data.

Fort Rucker Switches Maintenance Vendors 

The U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command (AMCOM) plans to award a newly formed joint venture company a one-year, $225 million helicopter maintenance contract that could grow to $2.7 billion if it exercises all options over 10 years. DynCorp Technical Services, which has held the contract since 1998, lost the bid to Army Fleet Support (AFS), a joint venture between L-3 Communications Integrated Systems, Vertex Aerospace (formerly Raytheon Aerospace), Paragon Systems and U.S. Helicopter.

Mood Upbeat at Convention 

Signs that the business aviation industry is recovering were evident at this year's upbeat National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) annual convention held Oct. 7 to 9. OEMs introduced new products; business aviation MRO executives said, ``We're actually signing contracts here;'' and a pent-up demand for aircraft and services was evident. ``People are jumping off the sidelines and are spending money on discretionary items,'' said a BizJet International executive.

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