The global maintenance, repair and overhaul industry may have reached the "bottom of the business" in 2009 but today is still "clearly a turbulent time" for the sector, Chris Doan, chief executive of consulting firm TeamSAI, told Aviation Week's MRO Europe 2011 conference in Madrid today.
He argued that the airline and, consequently, maintenance industry has become much more sensitive to external influences, such as fuel price, the macroeconomic environment, terrorism, geopolitical issues and significant weather events, than they have been in the past. This is largely due to the increasing globalisation of the aviation business.
The impact of such recent events had a much more pronounced effect on the MRO industry, which is at the bottom of the aviation value chain, than in the past. When global airline capacity was cut by 1% in 2010, this led to a 7.5% decline in global MRO business volume, he said.
"The MRO business has changed...the good life from before 2007 has gone forever," he said.
While the cost to service airframes has continually come down with new aircraft, improved designs and longer maintenance schedules of modern aircraft, the cost to support new-generation engines - and arguably components too - are instead going up. The more sophisticated equipment requires more high-value support.
Doan appealed to MRO providers to reflect upon where they add most value for their customers and to concentrate on those areas rather than trying to offer a broad as possible range of services. He added that it was important to be innovative, develop expertise and further build up individual areas of strength in future.