Aviation Maintenance Industry
Samuel Clemons a/k/a is the author of the phrase “News of my demise is greatly exaggerated” and the predictions of the MRO industry have qualified for the Mark Twain reprise. Many aerospace pundits have forecast that the demand for independent repair stations would decline. The reasons for their dire predictions run the gamut-scarcity of qualified AMTs, increasing regulation, claims of low quality, difficulty of the Part 145s to acquire the equipment and manuals needed for the new aircraft, the desire of some airlines to control these critical MX functions in-house.
The below three articles suggest that the MRO business is doing well, is working to train its future AMTs and is actively attracting future MX talent.
The AviationPro’s article counters the bearish projections with solid facts:
- “’Advanced bookings for slots — heavy maintenance slots in particular — is quite solid, right now…Supply is limited, and there’s a lot of demand for heavy maintenance activity.’ A precious few bays are being chased around the globe by a bunch of aircraft. MRO providers ‘are projecting very full hangars, many of which are pre-sold out for the year.’”
- 1st Tier MROs are or are planning to add capacity:
- Guangzhou Aircraft Maintenance Engineering Company opened a new 66,000-square-meter hangar
- AAR added a Lake Charles, LA and Rockford, IL widebody hangars
- Delta TechOps MRO Services Jack Arehart calls the “world’s largest engine test cell to accommodate our new aircraft orders.”
Jerome Greer Chandler, the author, then recites an impressive set of numbers about future growth in the MRO business:
- “China is projected to grow at 9.4 percent, from US $5 billion, 347 million in 2016 to US $8 billion, $371 million in 2021.
- Middle East is forecast to post 7.0 percent CAGR, going from US $5 billion, $706 million to US $8 billion, $11 million.
- Africa’s MRO activity is forecast to increase at 6.5 percent CAGR. That means a rise from US $1 billion, $826 million to US $2 billion, $498 million over the next five years.
- “Asia-Pacific is next, with a CAGR of 5.4 percent. In 2016 CAVOK estimates the compound annual growth rate at US $12 billion, $284 million…
- India is up next, growing at a clip of 5.2 percent, increasing from a comparatively modest 2016 starting point of US $1 billion, $115 million and rising to US $1 billion, $435 million five years down the road.
- Eastern European MROs’ projected CAGR is 4.1 percent, increasing from US $2 billion, $713 million to US $3 billion, $316 million over the coming five years…
- Latin America and the Caribbean’s MRO work will grow $3.6 percent, rising from US $3 billion, $455 million to US $4 billion, $120 million.
The market is adopting different strategies:
- Delta’s TechOps MRO Services’ Arehart explains that there is enough capacity in its network to be able to support DL’s MX needs plus outside work. Most of its 3rd party work, “about 70%” is powerplants and he expects that demand to grow “about 14 percent, year-over-year in 2016 vs. 2015.”
- AAR is already heavily booked; that’s why the company is trying to expand its facilities.
- HAECO, GAMECO and Lufthansa Technik all have different approaches to deal with the growth. Some indicate that the increase in MX requirements reflects the airlines’ increased flying due to cheaper fuel.
There is no indication how long the “Rosie Scenario” will last.
One approach to the need for AMT talent is to wait for the qualified applicants to enter through the front door. A tactic, likely to be more successful, is highlighted in the second article; it tries to develop a cadre of AMTs through a public-private partnership (PPP). An advocate for this “priming the pump” method is Snap-On Tools. The company espouses a collaborative program. The goal is to identify trade schools, community colleges and junior colleges with student bodies looking for jobs, willing to learn a demanding trade and with some propensity to deal with mechanical repairs. Once such an institution is located, then the PPP works to make sure that the curriculum/instructors can train and certify students on the proper use of tools and equipment for the aviation industry.
Getting any learning organization to enter aviation education is not easy. The tools and equipment required are not cheap. Snap-On gives a candidate school a College of William & Mary study, Policy Solutions for a Stronger Technical Workforce. It is a convincing statement of the MRO segment’s need for AMTs. To facilitate the growth in supply, Snap-On has included both the American Association of Community Colleges and National Coalition of Certification Centers. These two organizations have the networks to expand the local learning options to transform students into much needed MRO human resources.
The fruits of the Snap-On PPP are shown by the addition of electrical measurement (multi-meter) and torque (mechanical and electronic) subjects to Part 147 aircraft maintenance schools’ curriculums. Courses for these two certifications have been integrated into an impressive list of schools:
- Wichita Area Technical College in Wichita, KS;
- Pima Community College in Tucson, AZ;
- Teterboro School of Aeronautics in Teterboro, NJ; and
- Wayne Community College in Goldsboro, NC,
The last point of the second article points to the subject of the third link– Aerospace Maintenance Competition, which Snap-On sponsors.
The AMC is the Super Bowl of the AMT profession. AMC is THE venue for teams of certificated Aircraft Maintenance Technicians, Aircraft Maintenance Engineers, students and other classes of MX professionals to demonstrate their skills. The teams compete against their peers as defined by these categories:
- Commercial Aviation
- General Aviation
The skills tests are truly representative of the work which these professionals perform and the time constraints any MX operation faces:
The AMC is an exciting competition which is closely judged and the winners get prestige plus very attractive prizes. One of the impacts of this annual event is the participants must constantly upgrade their standards and skills to which today’s skilled Aviation Maintenance Professionals hold themselves.
The state of the MRO world is better than forecast and it is working hard to keep the pipeline full of capable professionals.