It is no secret that the rapidly developing economies in Asia and the Middle East have been one of the main reasons for the recent improvements within the aviation industry - from the significantly growing global fleet to consequently increasing demand for MRO services. Nevertheless, the emerging markets have found themselves unable to meet their local demand for qualified pilots and technical personnel as quickly as they would have wanted to, thus having to hire the right specialists from abroad. It seems, though, that the situation in terms of the appropriately qualified local MRO personnel is finally taking a turn for the better.
The processes that can be observed in the emerging markets are anything but surprising. With the number of newly bought airplanes steadily going up, the MRO sector eventually had to undergo the same changes. According to the most recent forecast by TeamSAI, the $56.2B worth MRO market will grow to $76B in the upcoming ten years and most of this growth will be driven by Asia, which is expected to be the largest MRO market in 2023. At the same time, what seems like good news for the entire industry has created some problems in the emerging markets themselves, since the growth of the local MRO market had to be accommodated by the appropriate growth in the number of adequately qualified technicians.
“With the steady growth of commercial and business aviation markets in the emerging economies, the symmetrically increasing demand for local up-to-date MRO facilities was the first thing to be expected. It is only natural that such a large number of newly delivered aircraft has to be maintained somewhere. Thus the issue of sufficient MRO capabilities became an especially pressing one, especially in Asia,” says Kestutis Volungevicius, the Head of FL Technics Training. “Of course, as concerns MRO services, especially when talking about engine maintenance, there is always an option to outsource major work, shipping the parts and components to a provider of your choice. Nevertheless, in terms of time and efficiency it is definitely more effective to do as much work as possible locally.”
Naturally, creating the necessary environment for the development of such capabilities isn’t something that can be achieved overnight, mainly because it requires investments in infrastructure and technologies, designed to support the growing demand in the MRO sector. That includes training of engineers and establishing the necessary training facilities. The recent Boeing forecast indicates that by 2023 the demand for new aircraft maintenance specialists will reach 601 000. It spells trouble for the emerging markets as it will definitely become impossible to continue recruiting the existing technicians from outside the region.
“Since almost half (approximately 40%) of the new personnel will be needed in the Asia-Pacific region, and over 53 thousand – in the Middle East, some important steps needed to be taken. The decision to create joint MRO ventures with some of the giants of the industry was definitely an important one, yet it is only the tip of the iceberg. The establishment of world class MRO facilities produces an even stronger demand for engineering talent and it is in the best interest of investors to ensure that they can train the necessary certified personnel who can work in these newly established facilities,” explains Kestutis.
As most well-known MROs are luckily concerned with the quality of specialist training, huge EASA approved training facilities are being successfully launched in the regions. As a result, the landscape of global MRO market is gradually changing, which is primarily reflected in the situation of air safety. Philippines have already been removed from the EU air safety list, while the progress in Libya and some African countries is also being noticed by the authorities. Moreover, according to the recent forecast of TeamSAI, the salaries paid to MRO technicians in the emerging markets are continuously rising and should reach the levels of the developed countries in 10 years’ time, indicating the raise in competitiveness and the quality of services provided. Thus, the signs of improvement with regard to the qualification of technicians in the emerging regions are already noticeable.