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MRO movement

Increasing OEM interest in aftermarket services, tailored support, training and real-time, paperless IT processes has shaped MRO provision over the past 12 months. Paul E Eden looks at how the maintenance industry is improving efficiency and adding value to operations
 

Emerging from the confusion as Monarch Airlines and Monarch Tour Group entered into administration, the survival and subsequent growth of Monarch Aircraft Engineering (MAEL) is perhaps the MRO story of the past year. Looking ahead, David Doherty, Head of Commercial at MAEL, confirms the company’s increasingly strong presence in base and line maintenance, and Aircraft on Ground (AOG),  and its preparations for the future.


“We have line stations in the UK, Spain, Poland and Ukraine, supporting aircraft including the Q400, 787 and A350. Customer requirements differ, based on whether they have aircraft based at the line stations overnight or they’re transiting through as an out-station. Some customers pay a retainer for guaranteed support, while others have an on-call agreement in place and we only attend if they have an issue.

 

“AOG support usually comes from our main UK bases where we have more staff flexibility. AOG resolution is critical for all carriers, especially given the implications of EC261[Passenger Rights] compensation regulations, but given their short sector and turn times, they have greater impact on regional and low cost carriers.”


In July, MAEL announced the planned opening of a new component maintenance centre in Northampton in September 2018. The new centre, in which MAEL has invested approximately £2 million, is being located in Northampton as that is midway between its Luton and Birmingham base maintenance facilities, and on the motorway network within four hours’ drive of all of its UK line maintenance stations.


Respected throughout the industry, MAEL’s training schemes are essential to its future. In mid-August 2018, Doherty noted: “We have 20 apprentices due to graduate this year and a further 40 in training at the apprentice academy. MAEL’s commitment to supporting the aviation industry and upholding the training school’s excellent legacy means that for the first time we are doubling our intake in the forthcoming academic year, with 22 apprentices starting in September and another intake of 22 in January.


“We also have an adult trainee programme allowing individuals transitioning into aviation from other sectors to transfer their existing skills. As part of our continued commitment to the Armed Forces Covenant, we are also working with a manpower supplier that offers a transition pathway for military personnel into the civil aviation industry. These initiatives are helping us address the imbalance in engineering skills, which has been eroded over the last few years.”


Historically an industry stalwart, Fokker became a GKN company in 2015. Today, GKN Fokker Services offers aircraft and component MRO services through sites in Asia, North America and Europe. It is also part of the type certificate-holding organisation for Fokker aircraft; in mid-August, some 400 Fokker machines were supported.


Fokker’s MRO presence at Seletar Airport, Singapore dates back to 1997 and the facility now operates as GKN Fokker Services Asia (FSA). Its portfolio includes regional aircraft types – Fokkers, inevitably, but also the ATR series. In February 2012, FSA became the first member of ATR’s MRO network, and therefore offers heavy maintenance, plus engineering, OEM mod-kit acquisition, special repairs, OEM airframe parts supply and other services. Fokker Techniek provides similar ATR options in the Netherlands. Meanwhile, component repair and 24/7 global customer service are available for Fokker, ATR, Dash 8, CRJ, Boeing and Airbus types through facilities in the Netherlands and US.

 

Fokker develops supplement type certificate (STCs) in response to emerging requirements and regulations, recent work including the development of TCAS7.1 (traffic collision avoidance system) STCs for the Dash 8 series and provision for a Class 2 Electronic Flight Bag (EFB). Recognising upcoming mandates for underwater locator devices, ADS-B Out and Controller Data Link Communications (CPDLC) GKN Fokker Services is working on STCs for a number of types, including the A320 Family and Next Gen 737s.


Noting a trend where the major OEMs are keen to increase their interest in aftermarket services, GKN Fokker Services has concluded partnerships with UTC Aerospace Systems and Honeywell, for example, acting as a global channel partner for avionics and mechanical maintenance on the latter’s behalf. The result enables efficient, cost-effective support for multiple types, including the CRJ and Dash 8, ATR42/72, A320 Family, Boeing 717/737 and Fokkers.


It is a trend GKN Fokker Services expects to continue. Consolidation Solution With its vast components business and other MRO interests, AAR’s market perspective is a little different, Deepak Sharma, President, Integrated Solutions – Commercial, noting service consolidation and digital tools as increasingly important to its regional and low cost customers.

 

“We have several regional airline fleets under long-term contract. We have observed that many regional airlines outside North America feel their small fleet size and variations in configuration between aircraft tend to deny them leverage with the OEMs. Consolidating more services and additional equipment under one supplier, like AAR, can be more efficient and cost-effective for them. We provide flight hour services, component repair and landing gear services, which are particularly important to low cost and regional operators.


“AAR’s offering is tailored to customer requirements. Virgin Australia Regional Airlines is a great example. It has three A320s, all different in engine and component configuration. Given these variations, the customer has no appetite to invest in component inventory, but we are able to provide components from our rotable parts pools, and repair capabilities, creating a nose-to-tail solution that keeps the airline operating in a competitive market place.


“We have realised that communication and service delivery are key for regional airlines. AAR therefore offers digital tools, in combination with complex logistics and warehousing support solutions, that enable low cost and regional carriers to maintain regulatory requirements and keep up with emerging technologies.” „>>

 


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