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Airframe MRO Predictions: Passenger Maintenance Will Take A Hit, Cargo Work Could Pick Up

Apr 14,2020

Scheduled commercial airframe maintenance work is expected to take a significant hit during the novel coronavirus pandemic as carriers conscious of preserving cashflow are expected to either downgrade workloads or ask to defer payments to MROs. As of Apr. 3, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in more than one million cases and in excess of 53,000 deaths worldwide.


SR Technics says the fast decline in passenger aircraft traffic has prompted "several inquiries from our customers asking for payment deferrals and we expect this to increase further,says its spokesperson.


However, it is still seeing requests to keep aircraft airworthy in a time of mass aircraft groundings, with the possibility of up to 80% of the entire global fleet being eventually parked. Short-term aircraft storage maintenance, out-of-storage checks and return-to-service maintenance is high in demand and we are prepared in case our customers require long-term storage care and maintenance,the SR Technics spokesperson says.


A wave of maintenance work order cancellations are anticipated across the industry, with Oliver Wyman estimating between $17-35 billion of its original $90.7 billion 2020 MRO forecast demand to be wiped out as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.


So far, larger players such as AFI KLM E&M and Lufthansa Technik have kept their shops running to some degree but have acknowledged the disruptive effects of the novel coronavirus.


AFI KLM E&M told Aviation Week that is has chosen to focus on maintaining airworthiness for temporarily grounded aircraft and for the flights dedicated to repatriating European residents from all around the world or supplying respirators, test kits and masks.


Some smaller scale operations, such as Polands Aviaprime Group, which is the parent group for Linetech, Serbias JAT Tehnika and Slovenias Adria Tehnika, has seen fewer than five cancellations across all three businesses to date. 


However, further east in Europe in Estonia, maintenance provider Magnetic MRO is seeing a mix of customer reactions ranging from paranoia to optimism, from panic to sober-minded approach.Risto Mäeots, CEO at Magnetic MRO, says there is still some work in its hangars, but as airlines decrease their flight hours, the MRO expects downgraded workscopes enabling [them] to fly the lower utilization.


Mäeots doesnt foresee a wave of airlines bringing scheduled maintenance forward during groundings. Some might, but it is rather rare,he says. Scheduled maintenance can be afforded by those who have such capital reserves. I do not expect it happening too much, because as everyone understands, each day of delay in getting operations back on track means the recovery extends exponentially.In the near-term, the companys investment plans have been placed on hold until its sees liquidity coming back.


One small crumb of comfort for some MROs is a possible spike in storage requests for grounded aircraft. U.S.-headquartered STS Aviation Group is one company seeing this. Since the pandemic started, we have had dozens of requests for aircraft storage and parking at our base maintenance facilities,Mark Smith, group president, and Lena Watters, senior vice president and general manager of STS Aviation Services, told Aviation Week via email.


The company has two base maintenance facilities in the UK at Birmingham and Newquay, both acquired last year, along with a hangar in Melbourne, Florida. As of April 2020, all continue to run on normal schedule albeit with additional staff safety measures in place.


Other providers, such as UK-based Caerdav, has also publicized requests to store aircraft, with its site in St. Athan, Wales able to hold up to 50 aircraft at a time.


While passenger airlines are scaling back their MRO requests, the opposite is true for freighter carriers. We are seeing increased maintenance schedules from cargo carriers,says STS. As the world continues to battle COVID-19, we will see a rise in demand for cargo and supplies to be shipped globally. This trend isnt going anywhere so long as this pandemic lingers.


Examples of this include American Airlines converting passenger aircraft into cargo-only flights to transport medical equipment. Cargo carriers are maxed out right now, and commercial operators are starting to step up and fill the gaps, so to speak,they say.


This hasnt gone unnoticed by the likes of Magnetic MRO, which has its DOA team set up to provide customers with cabin modifications for COVID-19 medical cargo transportation in primarily passenger cabin aircraft.


Over the next decade, the global aviation maintenance market will remain a huge opportunity, benefiting from the emergence of new models, engines and components, as well as the need to replace old and damaged aircraft and engines. Under this background  the 4th Annual Civil Aircraft Operation Support Technology International Forum will be held on September 24th-25th, 2020 in Qingdao, China, the forum was hosted by Shanghai Society of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Civil Aircraft Operation Support Technology Sub-committee of CSAA, organized by Taikoo (Shandong) Aircraft Engineering Company Limited , COMAC Shanghai Aircraft Customer Service Co., Ltd & Galleon (Shanghai) Consulting Co., Ltd. Will mainly discuss Domestic Policies and Development Trends, Big Data and Predictive Maintenance, Spare Parts and Cost Management , Maintenance and New Technology, Modification and Testing.


Register your interest or get in touch with marketing@galleon.cc for more details.

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