USM Demand Swings To Widebody Engines

Credit: Getty Images/S3studio

SINGAPORE—Engine MRO companies specializing in used survivable material (USM) are noticing an uptick in requirement for widebody engine parts thanks to newfound air cargo demand brought about by reduced belly capacity. 

Airlines are also starting to explore using parts manufacturer approval (PMA) components as a way to save costs during the long-drawn-out pandemic. 

Speaking at Aviation Week’s virtual MRO Asia-Pacific, AAR’s VP of sales for Asia-Pacific Colin Gregory told a panel that the region has seen “large growth” in recent months. He said this has been fueled by high cargo traffic volume by freighters such as the Boeing 747F, 757F and 767F. This has resulted in demand for parts for engines—notably Pratt & Whitney PW2000s PW4000s—some of which currently are harder to find than narrowbody parts. 

Gregory added that China is currently a “large step ahead” in terms of USM demand, primarily due to its early recovery. Another factor is the increasing number of facilities in China certified to conduct engine strip down. 

However, Mario Romano, StandardAero’s Airlines & Fleets regional sales manager for Asia-Pacific, noted that engine parts retrieved from some engines are increasingly at end-of-life stage. This means they are less valuable, as cash-strapped airlines push older aircraft into early retirement and deploy newer aircraft to fulfil routes traditionally operated by the older aircraft. 

Francesco Baccarani, Technical VP at SGI Aviation, echoed that sentiment, and added that parts coming from harsher environments like China, India and the Middle East tend to be rejected due to the poorer condition they are often in. Baccarani said that while USM prices are usually pegged at 65-70% of OEM catalogue price, a surplus of parts—which could be due to high volume of retirements—can bring prices to as low as 60%. 

Gregory also flagged that the company has observed an increasing trend of airlines looking at PMA parts as a way to save costs, although these carriers would prefer to repair than to replace. In addition, an important factor for airlines when making the move is whether the aircraft is owned by the airline, since a lessor would usually not approve the installation of PMA parts on its aircraft.

Chen Chuanren

Chen Chuanren is the Southeast Asia and China Editor for the Aviation Week Network’s (AWN) Air Transport World (ATW) and the Asia-Pacific Defense Correspondent for AWN, joining the team in 2017.