Aviation Week Ranks Biggest Airframe MROs

By Lee Ann Tegtmeier leeann.tegtmeier@aviationweek.com
Source: AWIN First

Malaysian Airlines Engineering & Maintenance expects component repair and overhaul to be its biggest growth opportunities over upcoming years, too.

AFI KLM E&M is focusing on engine and component support but is developing a “worldwide MRO network, close to customers, via its subsidiaries, JVs and partnerships,” says a company spokesman. Examples include opening a component workshop in China this year, launching a joint venture in the U.S. with Bonus Tech and Bonus Aerospace that specializes in engine teardowns, and planning to build a composite and aerostructures workshop at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport.

Iberia, which became part of the International Airlines Group with British Airways in 2011, has been steadily increasing its maintenance division’s third-party component and engine business in the last couple of years. Part of its success stems from introducing Lean processes, which have increased throughput and decreased turnaround times and costs. New products include IAE V2500 engine and A340 landing-gear MRO—as well as structural and interior airframe modifications. In 2012, Iberia Maintenance performed 122 C and D checks, redelivered 26 aircraft, modified 15 aircraft interiors and completed 18 casualty checks.

British Airways Engineering, which declined to provide its 2012 maintenance man-hour numbers, is busy getting ready for BA to accept its first A380 and 787 this summer. Its Learning Academy at London Heathrow Airport added 787 and A380 and Trent 1000 engine maintenance training classes for customers to leverage the airline’s experience with the new aircraft and systems. In related news, in April it announced that it partnered with AJ Walter Aviation to support Azerbaijan Airlines’ 787 components starting in 2014.

The largest European MRO group in our survey—by both airframe man-hours and revenue—is Lufthansa Technik, whose 4.1 million airframe man-hours include its European facilities in Berlin and Hamburg; Budapest, Hungary; Malta; Shannon, Ireland; and Sofia, Bulgaria, as well as Lufthansa Technik Philippines. Its Malta facility, which celebrated its 10th anniversary last month, logged 750,000 total labor hours—including structural work, painting and cabin modifications—in 2012 for Lufthansa, Brussels Airlines and other international operators.

Lufthansa Technik already offers a comprehensive one-stop shop approach, as well as “total” bundled airframe, engine, material, technical support, landing gear and component packages. And on June 14, it signed a long-term cooperation agreement with supplier Liebherr Aerospace to exchange component process and document management. This could signal prospects for deeper customer-service packages for Liebherr products.

In addition to components and engine capabilities, MROs are expanding backshop offerings—especially for facilities that produce fewer than 1 million man-hours.

Take Adria Airways Tehnika, which is adding interior, sheetmetal, composite and paint services, reports Deputy CEO Mirjana Ceh, whose Slovenian MRO performed 300,000 base maintenance man-hours, plus another 65,000 for line maintenance at its Ljubljana Airport base. She expects a 15% growth in airframe-related services this year, some of which will come from increasing demand for modification work.

Given the MRO market consolidation, strong pricing pressure, overcapacity in some of the mature markets, and declining maintenance requirements for next-generation aircraft coming online, MROs will need to focus on productivity, competitive services and value. And expect the biggest to become even bigger.

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