In the air transport business, the maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) is a crucial requirement to ensure the safety and continuing airworthiness of an aircraft or aircraft component by international standards. Commercial aircraft MRO includes the performance of several tasks such as maintenance, replacement, overhaul, defect rectification, inspection, repair, and the embodiment of modifications. The global commercial aircraft market accounted for over USD 191 billion in 2018 and is projected to reach USD 255 billion by 2028, expanding at a CAGR of 2.9%.
As the aviation market grows in size, essential operations such as the MRO market will stand to progress its business, simultaneously facing many challenges to meet the growing demands. As per Straits Research's latest report on the aircraft maintenance, repair, and overhaul market, the overall market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 46.6% during the forecast period, 2019–2029. Travel and tourism continue to grow strong and is further envisioned to witness more aircraft usage, which in turn, will ignite the tremendous demand for industry services. Some of the key factors contributing to the growth of the MRO market are digitalization, the rising demand for air travel, and the upgradation of the legacy Management Information System (MIS).
New technologies have changed the marketing landscape to a great extent, thus radically changing the way we live and work. One such technology, the Internet of Things (IoT), has become a buzzword in the technology landscape and is revolutionizing several industries, especially the aviation industry. IoT creates value for private and public businesses alike when optimizing business processes or generating new business models out of huge volumes of data. It can maximize efficiency across industries, thereby improving operational efficiency, proficiency, and profitability.
Nowadays, IoT-based advancements are being tremendously used to augment aviation. IoT-enabled sensors and big data are helping improve condition-based maintenance (CBM), and make it more efficient. The data analytics being collected deliver key insights to streamline operations and reduce maintenance delays. The same insights allow for predictive maintenance techniques that recognize possible faults before indications begin to show up.
IoT, as an enabler for digital transformations, is likewise expected to transform MRO software in a few different ways. Some of the cutting-edge advancements set to bring change in the aviation industry are briefly discussed below:
AI is coming of age. As we thrive on finding new ways to leverage technology, more inventions are being created to increase productivity. For example, an autopilot system can help the pilot control the aircraft and make better decisions during the flight with real-time data.
Wearables and robotics are assisting airline personnel with timely repairs through innovative maintenance options. On the other hand, Rolls Royce is building a tiny "insect-like" robot to help with aircraft maintenance. The robot will improve routine maintenance checks and eliminate the need to remove the aircraft engine for service.
AR is assisting the MRO industry with the problem of a lack of skilled technicians. The technology is connecting onsite operators to licensed technicians. With the growth of the aviation industry, the global aircraft fleet count is expected to increase from 26,307 to 37,978 by 2028. Now, with an additional 11,000 aircrafts being built, more MRO technical experts will be required, and AR will help meet these needs.
The U.S.-based AAR Corporation is one of the leading independent providers of aviation services to the government, commercial, and defense aviation industries worldwide. The company's aviation segment provides maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) services, inventory management and distribution services, and engineering services. The company is the largest independent MRO provider in North America, serving a global consumer base.
In February 2018, AAR Corporation announced a joint venture with Indamer to establish a new MRO facility in India, thereby expanding its footprint in India's fast-growing commercial aviation market. For FY2019, AAR Corporation recorded sales worth USD 2.05 billion.
ST Engineering is a Singapore-based integrated engineering group in the aerospace, marine, electronics, and land systems sectors. The company ranks among the largest companies listed on the Singapore Exchange and is one of the largest defense and engineering groups in Asia. ST Engineering registered revenues of USD 7.86 billion in FY2019.
In June 2019, ST Engineering announced that its Aviation business entered into a long-term partnership with Honeywell through an agreement that will have the former acting as a licensed repair center for Honeywell components. As an official member of the Honeywell Channel Partner Network, the company will be using Honeywell's advanced technologies and solutions to provide MRO services for operators from across the world.
Lufthansa Technik AG — a part of the German airline Deutsche Lufthansa AG — is a leading provider of maintenance, completions, repair, and overhaul services for aircraft and MRO services for engines and components. The company increased its sales revenue in FY2018 by 10% to approximately USD 6.5 billion. Europe and the Middle East and Africa remain the most important market in terms of sales volume.
In March 2020, Lufthansa Technik and Safran Landing Systems entered into an MRO partnership agreement for A380 landing gear. This collaboration with Safran will enable Lufthansa Technik to offer a complete MRO landing gear service portfolio for the A380.
Hong Kong Aircraft Engineering Company Limited (HAECO) is an aircraft engineering and maintenance group. The company specializes in providing airframe maintenance, structural modification, non-destructive testing, and cabin reconfiguration services through its 27 hangars in six locations in the United States, Hong Kong, and Mainland China. In November 2018, the company became a fully-owned subsidiary of Swire Pacific. The company generated revenues of USD 945 million in 2018.
In December 2019, HAECO announced its partnership with Ramco Systems to bring the global software specialist's advanced Aviation solutions to four more business units in Hong Kong, Xiamen, and Jinjiang.
GE Aviation — a part of the U.S.-based diversified tech player GE Electric Company — is a leading aircraft engine supplier, offering engines for the majority of commercial, military, business, and general aviation jet and turboprop engines and components. It posted USD 32.87 billion in revenue in 2018, recording 5% growth over the previous year.
In November 2019, Sanad Aerotech — a leading engine Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) solutions provider — announced a partnership with GE Aviation to provide maintenance services to GE for next-gen body and wide body aircraft. Under this agreement, the company will provide MRO services on the GEnx-1B engine and continued time overhauls on CFM International's LEAP engines for GE.