As engine manufacturers continue their focus on aftermarket services, most have been ramping up their capacity and capabilities in Asia-Pacific to better serve their largest customers.
FlightGlobal's 2018 Commercial Engines report shows that the most widely used engines in the region are CFM International CFM56s and International Aero Engines IAE V2500s.
In Asia-Pacific, there are over 7,700 CFM56 engines in service, with the V2500 in second place with more than 2,400 in operation. That reflects the combined fleet of over 4,300 Airbus A320s and Boeing 737s in the region.
Brendon McWilliam, Pratt & Whitney's senior director of aftermarket operations for Asia-Pacific, says that half of the 6,000 V2500 engines in service around the world have not had their first shop visit and forecasts the engine type could see "more than 1,000 shop visits annually over the next seven to eight years globally".
While P&W will not disclose how many V2500 shop visits are expected in Asia-Pacific, it is estimated that the region could see around 400 visits per year.
The large volume of CFM56s and V2500s has also created ample room in the market for independent engine shops.
ST Engineering Aerospace operates engine shops in Singapore and Xiamen that focus on CFM56 overhauls. The company says this gives it "in the region of 400 CFM56 overhauls for -3, -5B and -7B variants, as well as extensive part repair capabilities associated with all engine types".
MTU Maintenance Zhuhai also specialises in V2500 and CFM56 overhauls and maintenance. The shop is a 50:50 joint venture between MTU Aero Engines and China Southern Airlines, and it says it has the largest market share for engine MRO in China
But as A320ceos and 737NGs gradually make way for the re-engined Neo and Max variants, manufacturers and other service providers are gearing up to service the Leap and PW1000G geared turbofan engines. The Commercial Engines report shows that there are 150 PW1000Gs in service and nearly 1,300 on order in Asia-Pacific, while on the CFM side, 224 Leaps are in service with just over 3,500 on order.
P&W is in the process of commissioning a dedicated PW1100 line at its Eagle Services Asia facility in Singapore, with certification expected to be received by the end of the year, allowing for the first engine to be inducted "early next year", says McWilliam.
Although the company has not revealed any plans for MRO work on new-generation engine types, ST Engineering Aerospace's executive vice-president of total engine support, Choo Han Khoon, says that is "exploring investments in new-generation engine capabilities".
While narrowbody engine MRO is popular, widebody jets in Asia-Pacific remain a large portion of the fleet, with GE Aviation and UK engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce particularly focusing their efforts on servicing the engines for those aircraft.
GE says Asia-Pacific is a "strong widebody market", with the GE90 and GEnx "representing a significant portion".
"About 20% of the GE90 fleet in service operates in Asia-Pacific, while for the GEnx engine, about 250 aircraft are powered by GEnx engines in the region, with one-third of the GEnx-powered Boeing 747-8s in Asia-Pacific," says the company.
GE expects there to be “continued interest” in widebody aircraft engines – particularly for the new GE9X powerplant that will power the forthcoming 777X. It says it has already received orders for more than 100 of the engines from carriers in Asia-Pacific.
In a similar vein, R-R says the region accounts for 20% of its commercial large engines in service around the world. By 2027, the manufacturer predicts there will be more than 7,000 of its Trent powerplants in service, the bulk of which will be in Asia-Pacific.
Most of its success in Asia has been with the Trent 700 engine, which is a popular choice to power Airbus A330s in the region. In China alone, the Trent 700 powers nearly 90% of the country's A330 fleet. However, in the years to come, R-R expects the Trent XWB to lead the fleet in the region as the number of A350s grows in that part of the world.
For its part, P&W is seeing a peak in PW4000 MRO work – particularly at its Eagle Services Asia facility, where the engine maker says it has increased MRO market share for the engine type by around 5%. That growth comes amid a declining market, however, with PW4000 MRO forecast to decline by some 6% per year as the engine matures.
As the PW4000 work slows down, Eagle Services Asia is ramping up its capabilities on the Engine Alliance GP7200. This year, it has added full MRO capabilities for the A380 powerplant in Singapore.
GROWING PRESENCE IN ASIA-PACIFIC
P&W has a significant presence in the region, with more than 10 facilities offering various services from manufacturing to training and MRO. Its three engine shops are all joint ventures with local carriers.
Complementing Eagle Services Asia, P&W also has the Shanghai Engine Centre – a joint venture with China Eastern Airlines that overhauls CFM56s and IAE V2500s, while the Air New Zealand-linked P&W Christchurch Engine Centre overhauls V2500 and PW110G-JM engines.
R-R also has a substantial presence in Asia-Pacific. Alongside its manufacturing facility in Singapore, its joint venture with SIA Engineering Company (SIAEC), Singapore Aero Engine Services (SAESL), is the only approved maintenance centre in the world with the capability to perform MRO work on every variant of the Trent engine. It has a capacity to overhaul 250 engines each year.
In 2016, SAESL announced a $150 million expansion and a new engine test facility that will take its capacity to 320 engines per year, while an additional 46,000m2 (495,000ft2) in floor area will help it prepare for future Trent 1000 and XWB work.
In Hong Kong, R-R, SIAEC and the Hong Kong Aircraft Engineering Company (HAECO) have a joint venture, Hong Kong Aero Engine Services (HAESL). In 2015, HAESL was equipped with Trent XWB overhaul capability. The MRO company also overhauls the RB211s, and Trent 500s, 700s and 800s. It says it also has repair capabilities for "up to 90%" of engine components.
R-R is seeking to deepen its relationship with major customer Thai Airways International, which is the only airline to have operated every version of the Trent powerplant across its fleet. In February, R-R announced an agreement with the carrier to deliver further testbed capacity at Bangkok Don Mueang International airport to support its Trent XWBs.
Meanwhile, GE has two MRO facilities in the region, with a centre at Kuala Lumpur that focuses on CFM56 engines, and another in Singapore that carries out component repair for high-pressure compressor and turbine blades.
The manufacturer is engaged in two MRO joint ventures in the region. Evergreen Aviation Technologies Corporate in Taiwan, which overhauls CF6, GE90 and GEnx engines. It is also working on a joint venture with SIAEC to establish a facility in Singapore to overhaul GE90s and GE9Xs.
SERVICE PACKAGE TRENDS
Engine manufacturers have attracted airline customers with comprehensive service packages, which include P&W's EngineWise programme, GE's TrueChoice packages and R-R's TotalCare platform.
The recent Farnborough airshow in July saw a flurry of Asian carriers sign onto the programmes, including Tianjin Airlines and West Air for EngineWise, as well as Zhejiang Loong Airlines signing a rate-per-flight-hour agreement with CFM to support 24 Leap 1-A and 11 CFM56-5B engines.
AirAsia X also committed to R-R's TotalCare programme for the Trent 7000 engines that will power the 100 A330-900s on order.
Choo adds that ST Engineering Aerospace is seeing a trend for more Asia-Pacific airlines signing up to its power-by-the-hour service packages, which he says can help "lock in capacity".
"While time-and-material service packages are still popular, operators are increasingly exploring power-by-the-hour programmes to lock in capacity for their maintenance needs, knowing that the global overhaul capacity in the near future could be constrained as the demand for CFM56-7B and -5B maintenance service continues to rise," he says.
P&W says that globally, it is seeing a 40% take-up rate for its PW4000 fleet management programmes, while that figure is 60% for the V2500. The take-up rate for PW1100G FMPs is expected to reach 80%.
"For new engines, high FMP acceptance is common. Operators prefer to rely on OEM expertise and cost assurance aspects of FMPs until the product is mature. We expect this high level of FMP demand to reduce over the life of the programme," says McWilliam.
Meanwhile, R-R says its TotalCare programme has allowed it to extend intervals between engine overhauls "by around 25%".
"Keeping engines flying for longer translates into reduced demand for new products and components that require complex materials that are expensive and resource-intensive to manufacture,” the company says.
GE Aviation also has a strong offering for its engine operators in its TrueChoice programmes.
"Customers have been interested in our TrueChoice Flight Hour in which GE Aviation manages the MRO needs of the engine through its lifecycle, meaning for customers who operate overhaul facilities, our TrueChoice Material agreements allow them to utilise OEM parts," the manufacturer says.
INDEPENDENT VERSUS OEM
GE bucks the trend somewhat, however, with its "open network approach" to MRO, whereby GE engines can be overhauled and repaired by GE facilities and other third-party providers.
"This choice drives competition for engine overhauls among providers and allows our customers to receive high-quality MRO offerings at a lower cost," adds the manufacturer.
Some airlines bemoan the lack of competition for engine services as more OEMs move into controlling aftermarket spares and services.
McWilliams acknowledges that OEMs have contributed to the sector's intensity. However, he says that as engine manufacturers launch "smarter" powerplants, the OEMs have the expertise needed to maintain them. This is driven by the growth of data that the company can use "to drive efficiencies across the entire enterprise", which will eventually lead to lower costs for customers.
Independent players still see that they have a role to play. For one, ST Engineering Aerospace is confident of success by harnessing technologies and being a "strategic partner" to the manufacturers. In that sense, it is focused on being a licensed MRO provider for the various powerplants, and is part of the OEMs' maintenance network, which they are also expanding.
There are indications that the added capacity of third-party engine shops does play a vital role in supporting the market. In April, P&W added five third-party providers – Turbine Controls, StandardAero, Twin MRO, ACMT and Lewis & Saunders – to its PW1000G maintenance network.
In part, that seems to be aimed at opening up more capacity to overhaul some of the troublesome GTF engines, which have suffered from combustor and knife-edge seal issues and thus have required more time off wing for repairs.
Some Asian carriers have noted that the GTF issues have had an effect on restoration times for CFM56s and V2500s, as capacity is diverted to fixing PW1000Gs, which, in turn has impacted on the A320ceo fleet.
"The restoration lines are being devoted to dealing with quick turnaround [of GTFs], and that's actually meaning that we are having trouble with the existing fleet getting engines restored," said Cebu Pacific Air's chief operations adviser, Rick Howell, in May.
Jetstar Pacific's chief operating officer, Les Stephens, echoes that, pointing out that the industry has a shortage of spare engines, which has caused lease rates to rise, although that is less of an issue for operators enrolled in by-the-hour agreements.
Updated to reflect ST Engineering Aerospace's annual overhaul capacity for CFM56 engines
Source: Cirium Dashboard