The demand for a wider range of qualified component repair specialists rises as manufacturers continue increasing the delivery rates of the latest generation aircraft and MRO companies are further developing alternative component support, including tear downs, PMAs, DER-repairs and other. However, ICF SH&E reports that today only around 22% of all technicians worldwide are certified. Along with retiring current generation of technicians, the segment of component MRO might experience a shortage of qualified specialists really soon.
‘Avionics and composite specialists will obviously be in the highest demand in every region across the world. What we see today is that airlines are increasingly shifting towards more efficient and thus technologically way more sophisticated aircraft. The trend is being observed not only in America, Europe and Asia-Pacific, but also in the emerging markets. However, one needs to take into account the labour cost gap between developed and developing countries, based on which some markets might experience a higher spike in demand with more limited supply than others,’ comments Kestutis Volungevicius, the Head of FL Technics Training.
Average labour rates in the developing countries are approx. 45$, while in the developed economies they may be as high as $70, reports TeamSAI. However, while attracting specialists from the emerging markets, higher labour rates also drive MRO companies to seek for new cost-optimization solutions. With this trend in mind, some companies prefer to invest in the qualification of non-certified technicians rather than employ new specialists thus supporting the demand for technical training.
Table 1. Breakdown of Component MRO Costs. Source: ICF SH&E
Following the success in the engine aftermarket, OEMs are expanding their playground to other segments, including components maintenance which currently constitutes a market worth $12-13 billion. Whilst seizing the technical information of their products, OEMs are also contributing to a higher demand for qualified technicians who already have the experience necessary for servicing certain components.
‘At the same time, independent MROs are developing their own DER-repairs or choose to utilize PMA parts as a counterbalance to the ever-rising presence of OEMs in the aftermarket. In 10-15 years time we are certain to see a larger share of PMA/DERs in the global component repair segment. However, airlines and leasing companies are the ones that have the final word in whether to apply alternative solutions or not, and the assurances given by sales managers are not enough to persuade conservative customers. The qualification and expertise of technical specialists is a major factor while considering the application of PMA-parts or DER-repairs. But regardless of whether these are original or alternative solutions, the industry is clearly becoming even more knowledge-intensive and information sensitive than it has ever been. Without any doubt, investing in human resources is vital for any company, but when developing the qualification of one’s technical specialists it is also essential to understand which particular repair segment will have the highest demand in the future,’ concludes Kestutis Volungevicius.