Fast 5: TrueAero’s Digitalization Journey

Nicole Ellis, senior director of business intelligence at TrueAero

Nicole Ellis, senior director of business intelligence at asset management and end-of-life service provider TrueAero, speaks with Lindsay Bjerregaard about how the company is leveraging digital capabilities and diversity initiatives to drive growth.

There has been a lot of flux in the global commercial aircraft fleet over the last few years. What trends is TrueAero seeing when it comes to in-demand assets versus those that are prime candidates for retirement and part-outs?

As companies look to reduce their carbon footprint and meet emissions regulations, they are increasingly looking to replace older, less efficient aircraft with newer models. Overall, the trend toward newer, more fuel-efficient aircraft is likely to continue in the coming years, although the pace of this transition is uncertain.

In terms of used serviceable material, TrueAero has noticed a faster engine market recovery over airframe. The demand for commercial aircraft engine parts is more stable and less cyclical than the demand for airframe parts. We expect this trend to continue, given more rapid technological advancements of engine material and the shift in commercial airline fleets toward newer material with more advanced engines.

The aftermarket’s leasing and parts segments have faced many challenges in recent years. How is TrueAero using technology to cope with or overcome headaches?

TrueAero began its digitalization journey in 2017. We were lucky in terms of timing—the implementation of cloud technologies across all major systems before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic allowed for a near-instant cutover to remote work.

Though TrueAero did not experience many of the early headaches we observed organizations across the world wrestle with from a technology perspective, the past few years have had no shortage of learning moments. We can summarize TrueAero’s use of technology in three key areas:

Digital transformation: TrueAero embraces ongoing digital transformation to streamline operations, improve efficiency and reduce costs. This has involved the adoption of cloud-based systems, big data analytics and, most recently, artificial intelligence to better manage operations, improve customer service and optimize the supply chain.

Remote work: With the rise of remote work, TrueAero uses technology to facilitate virtual collaboration and communication between employees, customers and partners. This includes the use of shared documents, video conferencing, instant messaging and project management tools.

Cybersecurity: With the increasing threat of cyberattacks, TrueAero uses technology to strengthen its cybersecurity defenses. This includes the use of encryption, firewalls and multi-factor authentication to protect sensitive data and systems.

What strategies should aftermarket companies be using to ensure their digitalization efforts are successful?

Any organization looking to begin, continue or refine its digitalization journey can follow a few basic strategies. Before embarking on a digitalization initiative, define clear goals and objectives that align with the overall business strategy. This can help ensure that digitalization efforts are focused and that they are tied to specific business outcomes.

Once goals and objectives are defined, develop a roadmap that outlines the steps necessary to achieve those goals. This can include identifying the technologies and solutions that will be required, defining implementation timelines and allocating resources.

Digitalization requires a shift in mindset and culture, as well as the development of new skills and capabilities. Invest in training and development programs for employees to ensure they have the necessary skills to support digitalization efforts. It is also essential to foster a culture of innovation and continuous improvement.

What types of initiatives does TrueAero have in place to build and diversify its workforce pipeline?

TrueAero is proud to have built and maintained a diverse workforce. Today, over 41% of our team members identify as female and in 2022, 50% of our new hires and 62% of promotions and job moves were female.

TrueAero believes that supporting and encouraging gender diversity is not just about providing opportunities, but about providing the support that makes those opportunities possible. For instance, we recently implemented paid parental leave and formal hybrid and remote work policies, which are available to the entire workforce, regardless of gender. Today, over 43% of our female team members work fully remotely, and the remainder have the option to work from home on a hybrid basis.

We understand that one of the top factors in encouraging diversity is by having more role models in senior positions. In one example of our commitment to diversity, we have recently increased female representation on the management team from two to five.

Once it has these new employees onboard, how does TrueAero tackle the issue of training—particularly in light of its digitalization investments? Are there certain strategies aftermarket companies should deploy to modernize their internal training efforts?

Most of our training is led internally by subject matter experts. This allows TrueAero to remain lean and agile, keeping related costs in check and the subject matter customized to fit the immediate needs of the business. We believe internally led training facilitates high-quality knowledge transfer by experienced team members, increases overall employee engagement, and leads to a workforce that feels valued and empowered to take on new challenges.

We also make use of a learning management system, which supplements the training we provide internally, provides a central repository of training data and allows team members the ability to self-educate on any available subject.

Organizations looking to modernize their internal training program should consider a top-down approach to training, starting with company values. From there, make training delivery part of job scopes starting at the mid-senior level, and empower a company of learners by creating a versatile learning program that meets the team where they are.

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.