Green aviation: recycling aircraft parts

2021-06-28 / 2 min

On average, 92% of an aircraft’s bulk is re-used and recycled. It takes over 50 million individual components to make up 1 Airbus A320 aircraft; finding a buyer for that many parts can be a challenge.

Currently, only 700 aircraft are retired each year, however, industry analysts predict that by 2038 more than 1,100 airframes will be retired annually. An increase of such magnitude, combined with industry-wide plans to reach a nearly 100% recycling rate could prove problematic if mishandled.

The growing rate of aircraft disposal is the result of multiple airlines’ fast-tracking the upgrading of their fleets with more fuel-efficient and environmentally compliant aircraft. At present, a common practice after aircraft disassembly includes an MRO or airline company finding customers for recycled aircraft parts – usually done via trade shows, direct contacts, or social media.

While social media does seem effective, finding the right customer at the right time is as challenging as cold calling – making direct contact with prospective customers. When it comes to trade shows, the ability to meet like-minded professionals, who may be interested in the stock a company could provide, can sometimes prove positive. However, the limited reach of this type of communication is hardly ideal for the creation of an effective part procurement supply chain.

One means of increasing the possibility of reaching potential customers is by introducing an online aircraft parts marketplace into a company’s daily operations. By having a broad spectrum of destinations and clients available at once, it becomes possible to recycle virtually 100% of the aircraft in the form of spare parts, alternative use components, and recyclable raw materials.

Dainius Meilunas, the CEO at Locatory.com, an online aircraft parts marketplace, explains the company’s view on the future of the aircraft part procurement process. “As aviation continues to show signs of growth in the future – despite the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic – and the concept of a circular economy is becoming more and more appealing to companies across the globe, effective communication in the MRO and airline business will be vital to maintaining a pole position. From our clients’ feedback, we know that the global reach of our platform allows companies to offload their redundant stock, free up storage space, and take on new projects quicker. Aircraft dismantling is a competitive US$3 billion a year industry, which with effective management and trading of stock could become a lucrative business for companies worldwide.”

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What recovery looks like: increases in costs and delays in delivery?

2021-06-17 / 2 min

The aviation sector is beginning to recover from the COVID-19 crisis, with the world gradually emerging from a pandemic, manufacturers are scrambling to secure raw materials to meet demand. Unfortunately, for many manufacturers, growth is being held up by record supply chain delays. New orders are running ahead of production at the high rate.

The slowdown of the supply chain in industries around the globe is now impacting the aviation industry. Critical parts such as spark plugs and oil filters now after seeing the beginning of a shortage and significant price increases in these and other key supplies over the past several months. Further, the parts shortage is requiring additional time, given the extra effort needed to regularly check tracking numbers for parts and keeping an eye on inventory in general.

The traffic is expected to rebound earliest for single-aisle planes, typically used for domestic or regional flights. The market for civilian aircraft in this segment could return to pre-pandemic levels as early as 2023 according to Airbus. The aerospace group is urging suppliers to be ready for a sharp ramp up of production — particularly in the A320 family. This model represents the mass of its business, responsible for around 80% of both its 566 aircraft deliveries last year as well as its 7,000-strong order book for planes.

In this segment, output is expected to grow from 45 planes per month in the final quarter of this year to what Airbus calls a “firm rate” of 64 by the second quarter of 2023. The company also wants suppliers to be prepared for a pace of 70 per month at the start of 2024, rising to as much as 75 by the following year, although there is more uncertainty around these estimates the further out they go.

Yet, there is one certainty that OEMs, MROs, and USM players can 100 percent rely on — and hopefully plan for. As flying re-starts, airlines will be laser-focused on lower material costs. With USM an increasingly acceptable lower cost alternative to new OEM parts, demand in that market should be expected to be very strong. This may necessitate securing the right partnerships now to meet the inevitable future demand. In the near term, the importance of being a “smart buyer” or “smart seller” and having the necessary technical expertise will never be higher.

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