Judging by the mood at MRO Europe in London in October, the industry is in pretty good shape right now. This is partly due to technical problems at Airbus and Boeing and their associated powerplant partners, which has seen older aircraft staying in service longer than expected in some cases, so generating additional maintenance work.
This increased demand has resulted in more hangars projects being planned around the world, both for maintenance and for paint. The latter market has been stimulated by airlines closing their own paint shops, forcing them into the third party market.
Of course, those older aircraft are the feedstock for the freighter conversion market and it seems there have been fewer announcements this year than before. However, GECAS and IAI have teamed to develop a freighter version of the 777-300ER and we take a detailed look at the programme. This has been dubbed ‘The Big Twin’ by the partners, as it will be the largest twin engine freighter aircraft. It is interesting that Boeing already has a freighter version of its yet to fly 777-X under consideration. One cloud is that air cargo volumes have decreased this year as a result of political tensions and trade wars, but the inevitable growth of e-commerce is likely to remain a strong driver of demand.
Sustainability in aviation is here to stay and one of the biggest trends is eVTOL. However, it is all a bit smoke and mirrors at the moment. There are lots of projects around but very few will ever enter service. While EASA produced certification standards in July, big questions hang over just how autonomous vehicles will fit into the current air traffic environment and how the public will react to them and their associated helipads. In this issue, we look at some electric alternatives for remote areas that can use existing aircraft and infrastructure and maybe have a chance to get to market faster.
Finally, as this is the last issue of the year, the MRO Management team wishes all our readers and advertisers very best wishes for a peaceful and prosperous 2020.