15 Nov 2019
Aircraft commerce recently published an article highlighting an increase in shop visit (SV) activity, leading to a backlog of engines requiring maintenance.
Aircraft commerce reports that several factors have compounded to produce a surge in the shop visit activity of CFM56-5B, CFM56-7B and V2500 engines over the past three years. Engine maintenance providers have faced difficulties with rising demand, as shop visit turnaround times have increased by up to 50%.
Alun Roberts, AJW’s vice president of engine leasing and trading says:
“The number of SVs is expected to keep increasing up to 2024, given the build profile of the related aircraft types, and the intervals to first engine SV.
“The recent surge in SV activity has caused a considerable increase in demand for engine material. The first issue with this surge is that it has been compounded by factors such as the simultaneous occurrence of first, second and mature SVs in recent years. This has then been compounded by the unexpected continued operation of relatively large numbers of A320ceos and 737NGs.
“This is partly explained by reduced deliveries of new generation narrowbodies, but also by economic circumstances that have led to continued demand for aircraft. The problem of life extensions for these aircraft will relax in four to five years. There will, however, always be a demand for these older engines from certain airlines. A high portion of both A320ceo and 737NG fleets is expected to be converted to freighters, and so have extended service.”
Alun reports that waiting times for available maintenance slots, in many cases, are now six to eight months.
“This is not just because of the demand for maintenance. The lack, or slow supply, of material for engine SVs, has increased the turn time from the usual 70-80 days to 110-120 days.
“It is not abnormal for engines to be stuck in shops waiting for material. These delays have therefore reduced the number of effective slots at engine shops. The knock-on effect has been to lengthen the waiting time for maintenance slots.
“AJW performs a lot of engine management services, and we have to find maintenance slots as part of this activity, this has been helped by the slight reduction in V2500 SV activity over the past six months.”
Brendan McIntyre, our head of engine material adds:
“The poor parts and material availability stems from the engine OEMs. The capacity issue of engine shops goes right down to the part number (P/N) level.”
“The parts that have caused the biggest problems include the fan blades, which have a 90-day lead time. The high scrap rate of fan blades has lengthened lead times overall.”
Aircraft commerce reports that one effect of this has been for airlines to send engines further around the world to shops with a limited amount of capacity. Examples are airlines in South America sending engines to Europe.
“The engine shops are limited by four main factors. These are the number of slots they have available per year, the rate of supply of material from the engine OEMs, the infrastructure within the shop, and the rate at which parts can be repaired.
“There have also been other smaller but contributory issues, such as an airworthiness directive (AD) on the -7B. This was actually expected to cause a surge in maintenance activity, which did not actually materialise.”
Alun says to avoid SV delays, maintenance providers will need to pre-plan workscopes and have all the predicted required parts in place about one month in advance.
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