24 Jun 2021
The need for LRU services decreased dramatically over the past year. AviTrader MRO’s, Keith Mwanalushi spoke to Chas Richardson, Commercial Manager at AJW Group, and Allan Pennycuick, VP Operations at AJW Technique to see how the pandemic affected the management of these components.
The MRO industry has seen some significant changes with the management of Line Replaceable Units (LRUs) during the pandemic. From an aftermarket perspective several different scenarios are playing out. Keith Mwanalushi investigates.
The conditions facing airlines created the need for flexibility and pragmatism in an aftermarket that was suddenly heavily disrupted. Chas Richardson, Commercial Manager explains that with many operators seeking suspensions, amendments and even terminations of their aftermarket support contracts, AJW has seized the opportunity to offer solutions that are flexible and fair. “Offering short-term contract suspensions, ‘pay-as-you-go’ stop-gap solutions and the opportunity to evolve the commercial framework of the service provision as flying resumes has been particularly successful for AJW.”
In the component MRO world, Allan Pennycuick, VP Operations at AJW Technique saw that the immediate change was to put a hold on component maintenance, and only send LRUs for repair in line with operational requirements. “Many airlines, with a proportion of their fleet parked, elect to take LRUs from non-flying aircraft, in effect delaying the maintenance on unserviceable components,” he adds.
As airlines then restart flying and ramp up their flying schedules, AJW Technique have seen a significant increase in volumes from certain customers, in support of aircraft resuming more regular operations. “We have been able to adjust skills and capacity in response to these changing requirements, ensuring we are able to support our customers with optimal turnaround times in active cells,” says Pennycuick. The pandemic has had the effect of reducing the market value of serviceable LRUs, so again AJW have seen an increase in the number of LRUs declared BER (Beyond Economical Repair). Pennycuick expects values to bounce back at some point, but in the meantime, AJW is being flexible and support operators with exchange units at attractive prices.
AJW offer several supply chain support solutions to customers to facilitate optimal inventory management based on fleet and size of operation. For example, exchange solutions for smaller fleets where volumes do not justify extensive inventory ownership. “We also offer shared strategic customer pools, with multiple user access to a defined stock holding in a region or geographic zone. This allows a service-level guarantee of LRU availability, with the stock holding cost spread across several customers to achieve economies of scale,” states Richardson.
Additionally, Pennycuick adds that AJW Technique offer specific programmes for time-controlled units, escape slides being a prime example. “Slides are time-controlled on a calendar basis, so overhauling them before they are required for installation results in the burning of on-wing or green time. With several customers, we have established direct links with their planning teams and are able to provide overhauled slides 10 to 14 days ahead of the required aircraft installation date via a joint-forecast and fulfilment model. This enables our customers to maximise on-wing time and optimise inventory,” he says.
Aircraft do not fare well while they are inactive, requiring daily, weekly, and monthly checks to keep them in airworthy condition. These checks can sometimes lead to unscheduled replacement of LRUs and components while they are grounded prompting the operator to either replace company owned stock or rely on readily available components in the market. At AJW they continue to work very closely with all the key OEMs to ensure they can support their products via licensing agreements, without compromising the OEM strategy. “This enables us to find win-win solutions to establish relevant capabilities in partnership with the OEMs, ensuring essential support on piece parts and technical data for AJW Technique. Furthermore, as a group, AJW have put significant focus on consolidating core spend into clear and sustainable OEM centric contracts,” concludes Pennycuick.
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