Slow Growth and Mounting Challenges

EUMRO251The European MRO market is a mature sector, with great technical expertise but with relatively high costs and slow growth rates. It is home to some of the most successful airline, independent and manufacturer-based maintenance, repair and overhaul facilities, which are especially well-versed in the support of aircraft engines and complex components.

Within the approximately $61 billion global MRO market, Western and Eastern Europe accounted for about $16 billion, or 26 percent in 2013, says David Stewart, global managing director for aerospace with ICF International.

The Western European MRO market hit about $12 billion in 2013 and is expected to grow to about $13 billion—a one percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR)—over the decade through 2023, Stewart estimates. Eastern European MRO is expected to grow from a much smaller base, about $630 million in 2013, to about $880 million in 2023, or about 3.3 percent CAGR, he says.

Stewart expects that Europe will show strongest growth in the 2013-2023 period in modifications and upgrades (about 2.5 percent a year). He pegs growth in the European airframe business at about 1 percent per year over the same period.

Last year ((2013)) was a good year for airline MROs, Stewart says. Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) also enjoyed growth in the period. European engine OEMs—including companies such as Rolls-Royce, MTU, Snecma Services and General Electric (GE) in the UK—add to the region’s maintenance strength. OEMs are well-positioned in the engine and component markets, especially on the newer platforms, where they have better control of the parts and knowledge of the technologies, Stewart says. This contrasts with airframe maintenance, which is handled more frequently by the airlines and independent MROs, he says.

Yet growth will be a challenge—especially for independents—in the years ahead. “We see the business in Europe as rather flat and under a constant or even growing [cost] pressure, which results in price wars and payment issues,” says Sébastien Weber, vice president of marketing, product support & development for Air France Industries KLM Engineering & Maintenance (AFI KLM E&M). “Chasing bright spots only in Europe is virtually impossible,[so] most of the large European MROs have a global footprint.”

Because big airlines like Lufthansa, Air France-KLM, British Airways and Iberia effectively keep their maintenance work in-house, the number of available contracts may not be so high as in other regions of the world, Stewart says. So there is strong competition for every opportunity. One of the sizable contracts coming up for renewal in 2015 is easyJet, Stewart says.

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By Jason Dickstein

In “The Tempest,” Shakespeare wrote “Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows.” This was the inspiration for the nineteenth century comment from Charles Dudley Warner that “Politics makes strange bedfellows.”

And what stranger bedfellows could you find in the twenty-first century than the United States and Iran. Yet these two nations have set aside (some of) their differences in order to permit the sale of aircraft parts from the United States to Iran.

With skirmishes between our maritime vessels, disagreement over the Gaza Strip, and differences of opinion concerning nuclear material, it might seem unlikely for the two nations to set aside their differences and permit trade – especially in an area as strategically sensitive as aerospace – yet that is exactly what is happening right now.
In an agreement signed late last year, Iran and the United States agreed that sanctions would be relaxed with respect to certain trade in civil aircraft parts. The Agreement between the United States and Iran provides that the U.S. would license (i) the supply and installation in Iran of spare parts for safety of flight for Iranian civil aviation and associated services and (ii) safety related inspections and repairs in Iran as well as associated services. Licenses applications will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, though, and there is no guarantee that a license will be issued in any case. Nonetheless, following this agreement, Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization head Alireza Jahangirian asked the Iranian National Development Fund to release $400 million to purchase aircraft parts from the West.

Aircraft parts exports from the United States still require licenses from the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC). Treasury issued guidance on its Iran Licensing Policy that clarified that “license applications will also be evaluated in light of the Iran-Iraq Arms Non-Proliferation Act and any other relevant statutes, as appropriate.

The first iteration of this agreement was short-lived (it was scheduled to expire June 20) but it has already been extended once, through November 24.

OFAC published guidance explaining that the U.S. Government will permit financial institutions to facilitate financial transactions relating to the covered aircraft parts transaction.” In other words, U.S. sellers will also be able to get paid. One important caveat is that these payments will only be authorized if the activities are initiated and completed entirely within the period covered by the agreement (the period beginning on January 20, 2014, and ending November 24, 2014).

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Can humanizing hangar design promote safer and better practices?

hangar251Development, or redevelopment of hangars and workshops is one of those necessary evils where aircraft maintenance is concerned. During the 30-plus year life of large maintenance facilities, those involved with the specification and ultimately implementation of any hangar or workshop based solution needs to get it right on so many levels. Topping the list is long-term capability planning for the facility. However, when speaking to a number of commentators, a lack of balance in terms of safety protection against production still seems apparent.

Hangar or workshop design, particularly for those aircraft/component MROs that work through the night is “very much neglected.” History has often proven in this regard that if anything does go wrong, the origins of the incident, more often than not, start during the night-shift and in a hangar. Good examples include the BAC 1-11 incident and the engine cowling latches episode, earlier this year. A great number of these incidents can be ironed out through better aircraft and component design, and to a greater extent through the introduction of human factors influenced training.

However, there is a limit to just how much can be designed into an aircraft or a maintenance procedure. If human factors issues are to be further resolved, maintainers and operators must now consider other areas of aviation infrastructure with regard to procedural design as well as concentrating on the actual facility itself.

When it comes to the way we operate and maintain aircraft, good ergonomic design, well thought-out maintenance practices and procedures are already in place, and have had very positive influences on aviation over the years. We have even further studied the effects of fatigue, and have installed effective policies in that regard. Yet, there is little research regarding hangar/workshop development or re-development that considers maintenance human factors as a part of the design specification. Surely, a well thought out hangar/workshop specification, would make all of our lives easier when it comes to combating some, if not all of the “Dirty Dozen”? Not only that a well laid out hangar solution must also promote best maintenance practice, and contribute to the overall safety objective of aviation.

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by Dale Smith

SuperiorCylinder251Ever since the issuance of Civil Air Regulation (CAR) 1.55 nearly 60-years ago replacement parts created under FAA Parts Manufacturer Approval (PMA) rules have suffered with a serious identity crisis: Aircraft owners, operators and maintainers continually struggle with what exactly these parts are and where they come from.

The simple definition is that PMAs permit persons other than the original FAA Type Certificate (TC) holder to produce and sell “FAA-approved” replacement parts for installation on airframes and engines.

There you go. Class dismissed. Unfortunately, in the 10,000 shades of grey world of aircraft maintenance, things just can’t be that clear-cut. You have to ask, what am I missing?

“While, overall I think the PMA business is pretty good today, the industry’s understanding of what we really mean by that term is not so good,” stated Sarah MacLeod, executive director of the Aeronautical Repair Station Association (ARSA). “PMAs have always been misunderstood and when you try to differentiate between the various kinds of PMAs it gets even more convoluted.”

One area of the PMA maze that seems to give so many ARSA member shops the most cause for concern are what MacLeod calls “captive PMAs.”

“These captive PMAs are actually those an original TC (Type Certificate) holder has another company make for them under license if you will,” she said. “Some suppliers think that creating a PMA part under license eliminates all their responsibility – not even close.”

“For example, lets say this aircraft OEM needs you to PMA a constant-speed drive unit that has to meet a specific set of specifications,” MacLeod said. “So you get a licensing agreement from the TC holder to make that part to meet those precise specifications. Job done, right? Not on your life.”

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by Joy Finnegan, Editor-in-Chief, Aviation Maintenance Magazine

Collaboration. What does it truly mean? It’s defined as working jointly with others especially in an intellectual endeavor. How is your company encouraging collaboration among its employees? It’s a crucial point to consider when working to achieve that competitive edge that is so needed in today’s market place.

It’s possible to work as a solo act and achieve great things, but most great advances and inventions are the result of a collaborative process. An idea is hatched, but perhaps falls flat at first attempt to implement. Next, someone else who watched the process fail the first time, says, “how about we try this”…and someone else says, “how about we also do this additional thing”…and the next thing you know, with input from multiple sources, something amazing happens.

This is true whether we are talking about inventions of things and products or whether we are talking about business processes and procedures. I’m sure you have heard the old saying “standing on the shoulders of giants” in reference to a person’s success. And often, when success is achieved, it is through the efforts of many and the collaboration of a team.

The car, the light bulb and yes, even the airplane were collaborations. Many people worked on these inventions at once in different areas and even shared ideas. If you consider aircraft, it started with DaVinci and moved to Liliental. A small improvement on what ultimately was a failure to achieve the desired result was then incorporated in the next iterations by the next inventor (and the next and the next) until—voila! Orville and Wilbur’s tweaks created a craft that stayed aloft for those amazing 12 seconds. It should also be noted that the Wright Flyer wouldn’t have succeeded without the input (collaboration) of famed first mechanic, Charles Taylor, who designed and built the aluminum, water-cooled engine based in part on drawings done by the Wright Brothers.

More recently, we have the creative and brilliant mind of the late Steve Jobs to thank for the strong understanding and encouragement of tech companies to build collaborative work environments. Jobs believed spontaneous, random encounters often lead to the most interesting developments. In the Walter Isaacson biography of Jobs, the president of Pixar, which was owned by Apple and a personal project of Jobs said, “Steve had this firm belief that the right kind of building can do great things for culture.” Known for his obsessive ways, he was no different when helping design both the Pixar headquarters, and later, the new Apple complex in Cupertino, Calif.

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TTTech, technology leader in robust networked safety controls, and European space market leader Airbus Defence and Space signed an agreement to bring the benefits of the fully deterministic and scalable TTEthernet products to the global space community. Under the guidance of the European Space Agency (ESA) Airbus Defence and Space will work with TTTech on the adaptation and qualification of existing TTEthernet products for space applications according to the regulations by the European Cooperation for Space Standardization (ECSS).

ECSS is an initiative established to develop a coherent, single set of user-friendly standards for use in all European space activities.

While the joint work of TTTech and Airbus Defence and Space initially focusses on network interface cards, one of the objectives is the establishment of the capability to build and test complete TTEthernet networks (including qualified space-graded switches and complex ground testing equipment) in Europe. This promises to enhance the international competitiveness of the European space industry just at a time when the competitive landscape of the global space market is changing.

“We have been cooperating with TTTech since 2012 in a project funded by the German DLR which explores highly efficient on-board computing architectures for autonomous spacecraft and satellites, and we are now looking forward to extending this partnership by joining forces to foster the use of Deterministic Ethernet also in future launchers and in human space flight,” explains Dr. Georg Willich, Head of Space Research and Development Germany at Airbus Defence and Space. “TTEthernet simplifies the integration and testing of complex space systems significantly.”

“TTEthernet technology uniquely addresses crewed spaceflight requirements for safety, reliability and maintainability. Teaming with Europe’s leading space company will provide key capabilities to offer its customers new levels of modular computing power and safety while further optimizing size, weight and power,” says Matthias Maeke-Kail, Senior Marketing and Sales Manager at TTTech. “In short this partnership will allow Airbus Defence and Space and its customers to do more with less.”

Time-Triggered Ethernet, the open standard for highly Deterministic Ethernet, was introduced to the global space market a few years ago when NASA decided to use Gigabit TTEthernet as avionics network in the Orion program. In 2012 NASA and ESA agreed on developing the service module for the Orion multi-purpose crew vehicle (MPCV) in Europe. This way Time-Triggered Ethernet (TTEthernet) will become more rapidly adopted in European spaceflight programs.

ge9x200MTU Aero Engines will be taking a four-percent workshare in General Electric’s GE9X program. The German engine manufacturer will be manufacturing and assuming design responsibility for the engine’s turbine center frame. Taken over the life of the program, the workshare will be worth around four billion euros in revenue for MTU.

The new engine will be designed to exclusively power Boeing’s 777X long-haul airliner, which is slated to enter service around 2020. 300 aircraft are already on firm order or option. The contractual details still need to be finalized between the parties to the deal. MTU will participate in the engine’s sales and profits in proportion to its program share.

“Our stake in the GE9X program gives us a significant market share in one of the most important next-generation engines in the upper thrust category. At the same time, it helps us further balance the mix of our product portfolio,” explains MTU CEO Reiner Winkler. “Some 30 percent of today’s active aircraft have MTU modules on board. We are going to increase this share in the worldwide engine fleets appreciably over the next five to ten years.”

Eaton has appointed AAR as the exclusive distributor for aircraft fluid-distribution products, oil debris-monitoring technology, engine seals and other products for commercial airlines. The new, 10-year agreement goes into effect October 8.

“This new agreement with Eaton expands our relationship from military and defense into the commercial parts market and reinforces AAR’s ability to provide efficient and cost-effective solutions for Eaton’s aftermarket,” said John Holmes, Aviation Services Group vice president – Aviation Supply Chain for AAR. “We are thrilled to deploy AAR’s global supply-chain infrastructure and sales team to support Eaton’s expansive portfolio of products.”

The new agreement includes Eaton’s high-temperature and high-pressure duct joints, static and dynamic engine seals, pressure sensing and control products, and oil debris-monitoring products and systems.

“Eaton’s new agreement with AAR is designed to provide airline customers with around-the-clock access to products they need to support aircraft availability and reliability,” said Lasse Ostergaard, vice president, Aftermarket Division for Eaton’s Aerospace Group. “Our expanded relationship with AAR also increases Eaton’s capability to provide value to our airline customers by optimizing efficiencies in our customer’s Repairs and Spares supply-chain processes.”

Oil Eater Brake Washer150The new Oil Eater professional brake washer is an energy-efficient washer that needs no electricity to function. Powered by air, it thoroughly cleans through the gunk and dirt found on brake parts.

Included with the washer is a cover that catches any debris that might otherwise fall on the floor while washing. And the washer can also be used as a portable parts washer.

Eco-friendly Oil Eater Original cleaner/degreaser is included. It is non-toxic, non-corrosive, non-flammable and biodegradable.

The brake washer is made of industrial-grade HDPE plastic. Features include: a heavy-duty air pump with adjustable regulator; flow-through brush with adjustable solution valve; dual filtration systems and four swivel casters, two of which lock.

Fluid capacity ranges from a minimum level of 8-gallons to a maximum level of 12-gallons.The basin is 20-inches wide by 24-inches long and 7-inches deep.Overall dimensions are 28-inches wide, 28-inches long, and 41-inches high.

Vector251Vector Aerospace Helicopter Services – North America (HS-NA) announced that it is an Airbus Helicopters D-Level certified repair center for the AS350/AS355 and EC130 helicopters.

“Our ability to perform D-Level repair on Airbus Helicopters products allows us to provide fast, approved service for our customers without sacrificing quality,” says Craig Pluim, director of sales, USA at Vector HS-NA. “We are pleased to offer this service to our current and future customers as the only OEM certified D-level repair center in North America for the AS350/AS355 and EC130 platforms.”

D-Level structural repairs include landing gear, main gear box, engine and component attachment points as well as fuselage / tailboom, vertical fin and horizontal stabilizer junction. Vector HS-NA’s technical specialists are trained and certified by Airbus Helicopters. Vector HS-NA is authorized by Airbus Helicopters to perform Incident Investigation and to develop and issue Repair Designs for AS350/AS355 and EC130 models not published in Airbus Helicopters Technical Documentation. Vector HS-NA’s repair jigs are validated by Airbus Helicopters offering primary structural repair to the most recent OEM regulatory requirements and standards for quality.

Vector HS-NA is also an authorized repair and overhaul facility for Airbus Helicopters components, Turbomeca Arriel 1 and Arriel 2, and an Approved Maintenance Repair and Overhaul Centre (AMROC) for Rolls-Royce M250 engines providing an all inclusive repair center for Airbus AS350/355 and EC130 models.