1 | Airframe Capacity Constraints If operators want to schedule narrowbody maintenance, book early—2021 will not be the year to count on getting a slot when you want it. Cargo conversions, lease returns and last-minute shop inputs could cause bay backups.
2 | Regulatory Roundup Additional regulatory scrutiny of certification projects and designee programs could lead to a backlog in product approvals.
3 | Supply Chain Destocking is the name of the game. Suppliers will continue to work through their inventories, which analysts think for some could last into 2022, depending on what components they supply. So far, there have been few bankruptcies, but consolidation of some Tier 2 and 3 suppliers is likely.
4 | Mergers & Acquisitions While 2020 ended up being a wait-and-see moment for most M&As, expect activity to pick up in 2021.
5 | Harmonized Fleets As airlines fine-tune their fleets for the recovery, they will harmonize fleet types to reduce complexity and costs. Newer models will definitely outlast older ones as carriers consider efficiencies and sustainability.
6 | Engine Customization Operators will be in the driver’s seat and won’t want to pay for overhauls if they don’t have to. Virtual inspections rolled out during the pandemic will continue—and are to be expected.
7 | Innovation If you’re not innovating now, you’ll be left behind. Downtime during the pandemic was a time for reshaping your business.
8 | Sustainability While we predicted in 2019 that 2020 was going to be the year of sustainability, we were off by a year due to the pandemic. However, the emphasis on cutting emissions gained momentum in late 2020.
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9 | All Eyes on Summer The first quarter of 2021 is expected to be a challenging time for airlines as they continue to burn cash and bookings remain low. However, as more people are vaccinated and travel picks up, all eyes are on mid-year—in the Northern Hemisphere’s summer season. If flight-hours resume, aftermarket needs will follow.
10 | Brain Drain Many thousands of people left the aviation industry, which has led to an enormous loss of talent. This could make it more difficult for companies to reemerge nimbly and efficiently.
Top 10 MRO Predictions for 2021: What to watch for in the civil aviation aftermarket in 2021