Aftermarket Begins Staking Claim On AAM Segment

Credit: EHang

Aftermarket services providers are beginning to stake their claims on the emerging advanced air mobility (AAM) segment. In recent weeks, multiple MROs have signed partnerships with AAM OEMs to explore cooperation on aftermarket support.

Earlier this week, HAECO Group signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with China’s EHang, which is working to certify its EH216-S electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) vehicle. The companies plan to cooperate in areas including aircraft maintenance, continued airworthiness, digital platforms, technical training and manufacturing.

“Advanced air is a blooming new segment in the aviation industry. We are excited to take part and look forward to developing this together with EHang," says Jacqueline Jiang, group director of airframe services at HAECO Group. She adds that HAECO is “well positioned to support EHang and jointly develop the systems, standards and services required in advanced air mobility.”

At MRO Europe in October, AFI KLM E&M signed agreements with two AAM manufacturers related to maintenance collaborations. On Oct. 18 it signed and MOU with Ascendance Flight Technologies to explore potential collaboration on areas such as line maintenance, component repair, technician training and airworthiness management for the company’s Atea eVTOL. The following day it signed an MOU with Ampaire to explore collaboration in mutual interest areas such as maintenance training and support, aircraft development and data analytics for the OEM’s hybrid-electric Eco Caravan aircraft

At the time of the announcements, Gery Mortreux, executive vice president of Air France Industries, noted that AFI KLM E&M is “very interested in electric and hybrid electric propulsion technologies, which are set to be future business drivers over the next decade.”

According to a spokesperson for AFI KLM E&M, its extensive global capabilities have given it the opportunity to explore the innovative new AAM segment. The spokesperson notes that AFI KLM E&M is also working with other parties in the AAM ecosystem. “In order to get AAM viable, we really need cooperation with institutions such as schools for technicians and technical universities. These sorts of partnerships are important to couple knowledge from research with commercial needs and the needs of MRO with the curriculum of practical schools.”

The MRO already has a leg up in the technical training segment. Ton Dortmans, executive vice president of KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, says AFI KLM E&M’s experience leveraging augmented and virtual reality to train technicians could be useful in preparing technicians to obtain required licenses to perform maintenance on electric aircraft.

Robotic Skies and Continuum Applied Technology's SPAN software
Robotic Skies recently launched its SPAN software for managing AAM maintenance.
Credit: Robotic Skies

Several aftermarket technology providers have also moved into the AAM space this year. In August, MRO software specialist Continuum Applied Technology partnered with Robotic Skies, which is building up an AAM MRO network, to create a cloud-based software platform to manage MRO requirements for the emerging AAM segment. The companies officially launched the new software platform—called SPAN—on Oct. 18.

SPAN is powered by Continuum Applied Technology’s Corridor aviation service software. According to Robotic Skies, the software facilitates scheduled and ad hoc maintenance activity management and tracks aircraft compliance. The companies say the platform’s data can be used to establish optimal maintenance intervals and improve aircraft reliability.

“Reliable data collection, analysis and prediction will be essential to safe and productive remotely-piloted aircraft operations, and SPAN encompasses all aspects of service and maintenance activity across our global network,” says Brad Hayden, CEO and founder of Robotic Skies.

Robotic Skies will begin rolling out access to the platform across its service centers for beta testing in the first quarter of 2023.

Lindsay Bjerregaard

Lindsay Bjerregaard is managing editor for Aviation Week’s MRO portfolio. Her coverage focuses on MRO technology, workforce, and product and service news for, Aviation Week Marketplace and Inside MRO.