Avionics repair for foreign customers has relatively high barriers to entry due to the sophisticated test equipment and training needed to deal with modern systems, software development and capability upgrades, UKTI adds.
But there has been growth in agreements using performance-based logistics, where suppliers are contracted to deliver performance outcomes against MRO objectives for systems or products, rather than simply agreeing to provide goods and services.
Spending by airlines on asset management is rising, meanwhile, and the increasing use of composites in new aircraft means there is “a corresponding need to be able to support it and undertake the necessary repairs once in service,” says UKTI.
The demand for non-destructive testing and appropriate repair derives from the Airbus A380, A350, A320neo, Boeing's 787 and Embraer's 175 and 195.
As the OEMs target greater volumes of aftermarket work, independent MROs are moving from “heavy, detailed, in-depth services to more frequent, light-touch services,” says Kakkad.
Many MRO companies benefit from the aerospace clusters that have developed around Britain, offering easier access to OEMs and the range of work they can offer.
The aerospace cluster in South East Wales is one such example, and is dominated by the British Airways maintenance center in the Vale of Glamorgan, which employs more than 700 people to maintain the airline's Boeing 747, 777 and long-haul 767 aircraft.
David Jones, the secretary of state for Wales, says the center has had “a very positive impact” on small and medium-sized firms (SME).
“There is the very beneficial effect of larger companies being able to assist the smaller companies in developing their business models, because they've got a great deal of expertise in terms of running business, giving advice and so on,” he says.