Airlines want to share risks with their supply base, a practice that has become increasingly important since fuel constitutes about 30% of an airline’s expenditures, says Jean Clermont, VP-supply chain management for Aveos Fleet Performance.

The change is driving airlines to offload more material support to suppliers, which drives supply chain innovation. “They increasingly want to focus on options that provide liquidity” and drive asset efficiency, he told the Aviation Suppliers Association annual meeting this week in Washington.

The push for efficiency prompts more focus on availability instead of turnaround time, which is a big change in customer requirement, says Clermont. To do this, Aveos is promoting end-to-end supply solutions that will integrate information across its networks to “right-size investments.”

Aveos intends to partner with “like-minded organizations” that complement its core capabilities, he says.

John Hunter, Heico’s executive VP operations, agrees that the focus on new parts alternatives will continue to increase and distribution lines will grow. “Replacement material is the third-largest airline operation cost behind fuel and labor,” and it is the highest cost for MRO facilities, he says.

Because “nearly all types and sources of materials (surplus and new) in the aerospace MRO supply chain are controlled by distributors,” Hunter sees a bigger role for distributors in the parts manufacturer approval (PMA) market.

Because PMA technical and regulatory acceptance is understood, Heico has grown its distribution worldwide, with the Americas representing 47%; Europe, the Middle East and Africa 35%; and Asia and Australia 18% of its sales in 2009, says Hunter. In 1997, the Americas accounted for 76%.

Consulting firm AeroStrategy predicts the PMA market will grow from $367 million in 2010 to $665 million in 2015, which would mean its total percentage of material consumption would increase from 2.4% to 3.4% of the market.