1-Expanding MRO Networks For Growing Next-gen Fleets
Pratt & Whitney
OEMs have continued adding to their existing MRO networks as new aircraft and engine types enter the market. A key announcement at MRO Americas was the addition of Delta TechOps to Pratt & Whitney’s aftermarket network for the GTF engine. The Atlanta, Georgia-headquartered maintenance provider becomes the second facility in North America capable of repairing and overhauling the GTF. The other is a Pratt & Whitney shop in Columbus, Georgia.
2-New Technology Innovation Is Happening
MRO Americas saw the showcasing of new technologies being adopted in aircraft hangars across the world including virtual reality applications and handheld tools for inspection work. PTC was one company demonstrating its IoT and augmented reality products, which include an augmented reality offering with potential industrial and training uses. Safran Nacelles meanwhile unveiled a new NacelleLife service offering, which includes a JetLife app and Presto non-destructive evaluation tool for composite structures.
3-MROs Taking New Approaches To Tackling Labor Issues
North American providers are looking to shake things up in an increasingly squeezed labor market. VT San Antonio Aerospace, an MRO under the umbrella of ST Aerospace’s U.S. headquarters VT Systems, says its work-study program used in Singapore is now being mirrored in the U.S. Aviation Technical Services is upskilling its more mature workforce while AAR, has opted to partner on programs with airlines which are dedicated facility customers, as well as with state government and local organizations.
4-More Acquisitions Are Coming
Aviation Technical Services
With the MRO market ripe for M&A activity particularly from increasingly service-centric OEMs, North American companies are expected to be very active. Aviation Technical Services, which had acquired four component specialist companies in the past few years, four acquisitions have been component repair businesses, is executing a strategy aiming “to fill out complimentary areas to what we have today so we can expand our offering to customers," its president Brian Hirshman told Lee Ann Shay in Orlando last week.
5-North American Regulatory Issues
The FAA told Aviation Week’s Sean Broderick that its transition to a risk-based oversight philosophy is progressing well, but change remains at its early stages. For now, the agency is listening to industry feedback as part of making the new approach more effective, FAA Associate Administrator of Aviation Safety Ali Bahrami said. Looking further afield, the regulator also revealed it is prepared to take over surveillance of its 180 approved repair stations in the U.K. if a new regulatory bilateral agreement isn't in place when the country leaves the European Union in 2019.
6-Airlines Look To Upgrade
In these buoyant times for the U.S. airline industry, carriers are looking to capitalize from their position of strength by investing further in their operations and fleets. American Airlines is set to begin a sizeable aircraft retrofit program in the fall, fitting new cabins on about 250 737-800s and 200 A321s. Cargo carrier UPS Airlines says it plans to operate its fleet of 52 Airbus A300 freighters, through 2035 or longer by upgrading systems on the aircraft, Ed Geers, VP-aircraft maintenance and engineering revealed at MRO Americas. Meanwhile, Southwest Airlines hopes to achieve ETOPS certification by the end of 2018, says Mark Wibben, the carrier's senior director - service engineering and powerplant programs.
7-Independents Eye ADS-B Airline Work
With the FAA-imposed deadline for all North American carriers to become automatic dependent surveillance — broadcast (ADS-B) compliant approaching in January 2020, the region’s independent MROs are anticipating work arising from carriers seeking compliance. Two MRO providers, Avocet Aviation and Airborne Maintenance & Engineering Services told MRO-Network.com at MRO Americas that they are both looking to provide ADS-B support over the next year.