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Cracks in the MRO supply chain | Asian Aviation

3 May 2023

Established markets in North America, Europe, and the Middle East have dominated the aviation industry in recent years. As demand for flights in Asia returns and the region establishes itself as the centre of global aviation, the inevitable MRO supply chain and skilled workforce shortages loom, threatening to slow this expansion.

In the May-June issue of Asian Aviation Michael Doran seeks insight from industry stakeholders on the impact of the ongoing supply chain challenges within the MRO industry.


Resources and supply chain issues have been global challenges for the aviation industry since before the Covid pandemic, but as the Asian market demand shows immense growth the cracks in the MRO supply chain are expanding. Subhas Menon, director of the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines, notes that although passenger demand is growing, capacity growth is much lower than it was in 2022. He attributes this mainly to a lack of resources but remains positive that the summer season in the northern regions will bring about better results.


David Shorter, Head of PBH (power by the hour), AJW Group, told Doran that the availability of spare parts, lack of raw materials, and longer lead times due to reduced manpower remained significant risks to MRO recovery. AJW Group performance results reflect a more positive future,


‘Our customer base in the Asia region has increased and was particularly strong in the final quarter of 2022. Looking at AJW Group stock sales from the latter part of 2022 moving into the first quarter of 2023, we have seen a 50 percent increase in the third quarter from the first, and a 100 percent increase in the fourth over the first,’ says the PBH specialist at AJW.


Cracks in the MRO supply chain | Asian Aviation


AJW is optimistic about the growth of its operations in Singapore and China with significant new orders emerging on the strength of the Group’s sole distributor agreement with Honeywell for Air Data Inertial Reference Units (ADIRU) used on Airbus A320/A380 and Boeing 737NG/MAX aircraft.


‘Running a global business relies on efficient logistics and that has challenged AJW, pushing the group to find new ways to deal with the current environment,’ says Shorter. Transatlantic route inconsistencies have affected the supply chain driving this independent industry leader to establish a sophisticated pooling strategy across the globe to ease distribution.


The Group has also implemented digital strategies to transform their operations and increase efficiency in their operations. ‘As industry leaders, we are adapting to the changes that need to be made to strengthen and grow our business.'


The article goes on to discuss engine technology and issues relating to supply chain disruptions, servicing, and engine endurance. ‘The problem boils down to lack of replacement engines, MRO capacity, and spare parts,’ say representatives from Pratt & Whitney who give further insight into GTF (geared turbofan) engines, time on wing statistics, and interim solutions being addressed while waiting for the supply chain issues to ease.


Doran says, ‘The slower and more gradual recovery in Asia-Pacific has masked some of the supply chain issues that have affected airline performance in Europe and the USA over the last 12 months.’ He offers insight into various airlines and the challenges they continue to face due to supply chain fractures and how this is affecting the travel industry.


Doran concludes his article by noting that aviation industry stakeholders are collaborating to adjust their business operations and are looking for new ways to manage their spare parts operations to adjust to ongoing challenges. While certain issues may stabilise as the year progresses, other problems such as the European energy crisis threaten to disrupt an already crippled MRO supply chain.


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