Deferring maintenance happens, and postponing a component overhaul or two that is not time-sensitive should not have a big impact on an operation or maintenance lines.

But what happens when you have to cut your maintenance budget by 5-9%? That might cause a bit of pain, but it still should be doable. However, when you take those cuts and compound them with the billions you already slashed from your budget earlier in the year, and log higher operational costs than planned, there's a multiplying effect.

And if you are the U.S. military, sequestration hits, on top of limitations associated with the Continuing Resolution, and you have to cut billions and billions of dollars within six months—but you must retain your workforce to protect critical capabilities in uncertain times—and you generate negative net operating results. With the magnitude of the reductions and shortfalls anticipated, the military will suffer unprecedented losses in its working capital fund, says John Johns, deputy assistant secretary of defense for maintenance policy and programs. Without money, the forces cannot induct maintenance, which, as an example, could impact over 300 U.S. Navy and Marine aircraft and 1,200 engines and modules alone. With no more work coming in, many product lines could shut down by the end of the year, predicts Johns.

In addition, think of what the deferral of sustaining engineering, such as structural integrity, and software engineering and updates does to a fleet. Degrading material condition degrades short- and long-term fleet health.

Now more than ever it's important to understand the aviation supply chain and how its components relate. What are your options when a whole fleet type is grounded? Do you know the leasing and finance avenues that could support you? What logistics services streamline your operations and cut costs? What happens when vendors can't deliver a critical part?

Questions like these are part of the reason Aviation Week divided its MRO Americas Conference, which will take place in Atlanta April 16-18, into focused content tracks. You can take a deep dive into your core business area and participate in a few other sessions that will stretch your knowledge. You can register for one session or the whole conference. Tracks include advanced materials, avionics, engineering, ground support, leasing, airline operations, cabin/IFE, finance, IT/data, logistics and supply chain, propulsion, skills/training and MRO military.

I urge you to explore the learning and networking options at www.aviationweek.com/events. Nothing can replace the face-to-face advantage, and MRO Americas really provides personal and business development opportunities.

Our industry is a complex one, but MRO Americas breaks it into pieces and provides the aggregate—as well as 670 showcases of innovative products and services. If you have any questions about the event's new content structure, please send me an email: leeann_tegtmeier@aviationweek.com

—Lee Ann Tegtmeier

Chief Editor MRO