PMA prospects in China appear to be very encouraging. At least that’s the assessment of Joe DePaoli, Heico sales VP in Asia-Pacific. PMA usage depends on many factors, the top typically being fleet size, depth of maintenance level and fleet age. “As we all know, China’s commercial aviation fleet is the second largest in the world, so fleet size is massive and growing.” China’s maintenance level, capabilities and skills are on par with those of any market in the world, including North America. Over time, the average age of Chinese aircraft will increase, thus requiring more replacement parts. “All the ingredients for increasing PMA opportunities and needs are increasing.”
Another favorable factor is competition in Asia. DePaoli says Heico parts are increasingly used by operators that compete with Chinese operators. PMA reductions in costs and delivery times should encourage wider use of PMAs by competing carriers, including Chinese airlines. This competitive logic would obviously apply most strongly to China’s international airlines, which compete directly with non-Chinese long-haul operators. But experience with PMAs built up by international carriers can spill over quickly to domestic airlines as well.
In any case the PMA market is broad. The Heico exec notes his company offers PMAs in virtually all ATA chapters, for almost all commercial aircraft and engine types operated in China.
DePaoli argues that the largest hurdle to PMA use in China has simply been lack of familiarity. “Compared with other regions of the world, China has been fairly slow to fully embrace PMAs. But we have seen many times over the years that once a customer, or even a region, embraces PMAs they never look back.”
DePaoli acknowledges that there are lessor issues and, compared with other regions, major OEMs have a much more significant presence in China. However, “all hurdles lessen over time. At some point, China will see the great benefits of using PMAs and they will become part of normal maintenance, as in many other places in the world. Regional competition will have much to do with this.