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Mission ready

The commercial air transport MRO market will revolve around the growth and changes in the global fleet. Keith Mwanalushi reports on the implications for the narrowbody and regional aircraft segment

It’s anticipated that the global fleet mix will change appreciably over the next decade. Experts at management consulting firm Oliver Wyman, in their latest 2017 assessment and 10-year outlook for the commercial airline transport fleet and the associated Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) market, revealed that narrowbody aircraft will grow faster than any other aircraft class. 


Oliver Wyman predict that by 2027, the fleet shifts will result in a narrowbody share of 65% and widebody share of 21%, while the smaller regional jet and turboprop fleets will have a combined 14% share.


Globally, the reports say MRO spend related to narrowbody and widebody aircraft will comprise $67.5 billion of the $75.6 billion total, with regional jets and turboprops combining for an MRO spend of just $8 billion. For 2017, the narrowbody MRO market share mirrors that of the fleet itself – that is, roughly 50%, according to the assessment.


Certainly, the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 platforms will dominate the narrowbody aircraft market in the years to come. Dr Felix Flöter, Manager of Corporate Product Management, Corporate Strategy and Business Development at Lufthansa Technik, observes that due to the high commonality between both A320neo and 737 MAX and their predecessors, synergy potentials on all levels are increasing.


“Since high numbers of those aircraft types will be operating in all world regions, the challenge from an MRO perspective is also to balance global synergies and regional footprints,” says Flöter. 


Lufthansa Technik is striving to offer excellence on both the 737 and A320 platforms. “The high number of service and repair events drives efficiency but also enables us to quickly develop new – especially data-driven – MRO solutions.”


Flöter says these platforms offer huge opportunities for AVIATAR – which is Lufthansa Technik’s open platform for digital products and services. He points out that the neo and the MAX generate much more data than their predecessors and that this data can be exploited to gain far more efficient maintenance processes. “Good examples are predictive maintenance use cases: due to the high number of these aircrafts, you can quickly get a very reliable database and use cases can be developed quickly.”


Jakob Straub, Head of Aircraft Services and Line Maintenance at SR Technics, says by focusing on certain aircraft platforms with higher volumes, MROs will be able to standardise maintenance processes, making it easier to predict maintenance needs, ensure materials are available, optimise stock and thus increase the overall efficiency.


“When serving a large number of similar aircraft types, fewer part numbers are required and stock turnover is faster, facilitating better inventory management,” Straub states. 


In an industry where cost is a major driver, economies of scale contribute to greater efficiency and a more optimal cost structure. “This also applies to the technical training cost as highly skilled technicians will potentially work on an increased standard fleet,” Straub adds. 


The business model at Czech Airlines Technics (CSAT) is tailored to the 737 and A320 fleets, along with the ATR turboprops. “The production rate of narrowbody platforms will not support all requirements for new aircraft and this will result in the prolonged operation of older aircraft,” believes Pavel Haleš, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Czech Airlines Technics. “We see this trend already as modification and refurbishment of passenger cabin requirements are becoming more frequent.” >>

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