November 05, 2012
Henry Canaday Washington
Even if making money in the airframe maintenance business is hard to do, a lot of companies still want to get into it. The latest entrants are aircraft manufacturers seeking more customers and steadier revenue over the order cycle.
Airframe OEMs may need to offer maintenance services to secure customers, especially the new, smaller, lean airlines that are increasing their share of the market and do not have—and may never want to have—major in-house maintenance departments. Manufacturers also stand to gain from steady maintenance income, in contrast to the wild swings in revenue from new aircraft deliveries.
Maintenance offers naturally started among manufacturers of smaller aircraft, whose business charter or regional airline customers did not have the maintenance resources of major airlines. These OEMs are now expanding their offerings. And the comprehensive support approach has spread to Boeing and Airbus, which are now selling much more complex aircraft to airlines that are small, cost-conscious or just not eager to get into the MRO business.
Bombardier has provided parts under cost-per-hour (CPH) agreements for business jets for a quarter-century and now supports 1,200 business aircraft from 10 part depots on five continents. The program has been highly popular and is offered to commercial airlines. “We have a lot more experience than other airframe OEMs,” emphasizes Gary Martin, vice president of sales, marketing and service programs.
Parts support is offered for the Dash-8 Q400, and Martin says Bombardier is winning the majority of support deals against MRO competition. A total of 80 Q400s are now enrolled, by carriers such as SpiceJet, Luxair, Republic and Jazz. Poland's Eurolot recently exercised options on parts for six Q400s.
Bombardier's part business has quadrupled in the last 12 months. It is offering airframe maintenance as well and has a new MRO center in Singapore. “We are receiving more and more requests for this and are now discussing it for all platforms, including CRJs and CSeries,” Martin notes.