MRO Management

EirTrade sees soaring demand but warns of MRO shop capacity challenges

Dublin-based supplier of parts to the MRO Sector EirTrade Aviation predicts sustained high demand but expects shop capacity issues and a skills shortage to hold back growth.

The firm, which opened a stock hub and warehouse facility in Dallas, Fort Worth, two years ago and now has a team in Atlanta says it is seeing similar trends across the globe.

Bill Thompson, director – Americas, said EirTrade is witnessing strong resurgence in demand for airframe and engine material in the US driven by increased demand for shop visits.

“Used serviceable material [USM] is needed by both airline and independent MRO facilities throughout the Americas region,” he said.

“The demand trajectory for material in support of narrowbody engine shop visits is climbing exponentially and we’re also seeing a large increase for widebody-related engine shop visits that have compatibility with cargo aircraft.”

EirTrade says airline-sponsored engine MRO facilities in the US appear to be operating close to full capacity and forecasting continued strong demand throughout 2023.

The company said it is seeing similar trends in other regions of the world with engine shop visits steadily increasing, primarily in Europe.

Thompson said: “The combined effect of the strong demand and scarce shop capacity worldwide means that many of the operators and lessors that we support are having difficulty securing engine induction slots on certain high-demand engine product lines.

“Experienced aviation technicians are also in short supply following the pandemic which caused many to leave the profession. When this factor is mixed in with supply chain problems, and delays in the supply of new engine material, the overall aftermarket industry is disrupted.”

Thompson added that while EirTrade can take advantage of this opportunity if it can supply the parts needed, the fact that engine turn-around times at MRO facilities will continue to increase until the situation resolves itself “cannot be ignored”.

He added EirTrade is also a victim of the supply chain shortages that are affecting OEMs and independent component repair facilities alike.

“Turn-around-times on the components that we have identified for repair are being extended as the shops struggle to keep pace and sustain commercially realistic prices.

“We are fortunate to have built excellent long-term relationships and fair price agreements for repairs so we are minimising the impact on customers as best we can, but the impact on the market is being felt by all.”

Thompson said the industry is continually looking for ways to extract maximum value from older assets and source equipment quickly and cost effectively.

EirTrade’s Dallas facility together with the Atlanta team work with the organisation’s existing infrastructure in Ireland to support US contracts from stock located stateside.

The firm said this delivers improved TATs and generates new opportunities for part-outs, storage, and consignments.

“In the US we are primarily focused on CFM56 and V2500 engines, but other engine types like the CF6, and RB211 are also well supported,” said Thompson.

Despite the current challenges, EirTrade says the future of the global commercial aero engine MRO market looks promising.

It estimates the global aircraft engine MRO market size will reach $66.97 billion by 2028, from $37.34 billion in 2021, growing at a CAGR of 8.6% during 2022-2028.

North America is the largest market, with a share of over 35%, followed by Europe and Asia Pacific together at around 40%.

The major growth drivers for this market are technological advancements for lower emissions and less maintenance, use of advanced materials, and demand for more fuel-efficient engines.

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