The Future of Regional, Turboprop Aftermarkets

Finnair signed a parts agrement with AerFin for its E190 aircraft which is tipped to have a robust aftermarket.
Credit: Credit: Joe Pries

The COVID-19 crisis may have made the commercial aftermarket grind to a halt for much of 2020, but signs of life are evident as some aircraft return to service.

The prognosis for the widebody aircraft segment isn't good, with Aviation Week data predicting a steady wave of widebody aircraft set to be retired or placed into long-term storage. Instead, it is smaller aircraft such as narrowbodies that have been widely tipped to bounce back faster.

Perhaps going under the radar to some degree are the prospects of regional and turboprop aircraft. Used for smaller routes, this type of travel is typically less constrained. Post-COVID-19, the need for smaller capacity aircraft in recovering markets could also increase.

Despite the novel coronavirus, maintenance agreements are being signed with Europe seeing several deals announced over the past week. These have centered on aircraft made by Brazilian OEM Embraer and France-headquartered ATR. 

Like many companies, both aircraft manufacturers have been hit hard by the pandemic. Deliveries fell 75% in the first half of 2020 compared year-on-year to 2019. Around 4.5% of its workforce was reduced, with 900 job losses occurring in its native Brazil. ATR meanwhile adapted production rates by 50% and announced more than 200 job cuts in summer 2020.

Nevertheless, the aftermarket shows some signs of promise, with Aviation Week forecasting a steady 2.8% CAGR for the E-Jet over the next decade. ATR meanwhile will see 3.3% CAGR over the same period for its ATR-42 and ATR-72 turboprop aircraft.

In Europe, MRO activity is slowly resuming on some of these aircraft, with several maintenance activities confirmed over the past week by aircraft operators. 

The largest deal by aircraft numbers involved UK-based parts specialist AerFin, which entered into an agreement with Finnair for 12 of its Embraer E190s. Under its BeyondPool agreement, covering repair, overhaul, parts pooling and on-site provisioning, the component deal will be supported from Finnair’s Helsinki hub. 

In addition, Denmark-based Great Dane Airlines has turned to LOTAMS to perform a heavy check on one of its E195 aircraft, while Sweden’s Taby Air Maintenance overhauled and refurbished the first two western-built aircraft ATR-72s to its fleet. 

James Pozzi

As Aviation Week's European MRO editor, James Pozzi covers the latest industry news from the European region and beyond. He also writes in-depth features on the commercial aftermarket for Inside MRO.