The Commercial Aircraft Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) Market was valued at USD 33 billion in 2021 and is expected to be over USD 34 billion by 2026, registering a CAGR of over 1% during the forecast period (2021-2026).
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a full-scale crisis with the imposition of travel restrictions and suspension of flights in a global effort to contain the spread of the virus. The aviation industry is in survival mode, crippled by the loss of traffic and revenues. According to the latest updates from IATA, ICAO, the Airports Council International (ACI), the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the World Trade Organization (WTO), and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the international air passenger traffic in 2020 is expected to experience a drop of about 50-55% as compared to 2020 baseline. Airline Revenue-Per-Kilometer (RPK) is anticipated to drop by 48% compared to 2019 value. The airlines are expected to record potential losses amounting to USD 289 million to USD 387 billion in gross operating revenues. Europe and Asia-Pacific are anticipated to be the worst hit in terms of international passenger traffic and revenues.
Airlines are inclined towards maintaining the optimum health of their fleet and choose to procure new aircraft only as a last resort owing to the high investment required for it. With COVID-19 severely hampering revenue sources and eroding the profit margins of the airlines, more airlines are expected to resort to MRO to maintain fleet efficiency. Furthermore, several government initiatives have been formulated to encourage airports to support MRO as a strategic activity. Various holistic approaches are now being undertaken by the governments to ensure that adequate space is allocated at various airports within the country for MRO, which may lead to an enhancement in terms of commercial aircraft MRO activities during the forecast period.
However, the advent of predictive maintenance has flooded the MRO industry with a flurry of problems, both technological and manpower-related. Since the concept of predictive maintenance powered by innovative technologies such as digital twins is still in its infancy, rapid improvements and growth are visualized within a short span of time. This implies that not all firms are equipped with the required infrastructure to harness the true potential of machine learning and other advanced emerging concepts. This also indicates the limited reach of the concept as comparatively few MRO organizations are keen to invest capital for developing these skills among their personnel, while the domain is not well represented in industry-focused education and training curricula. Moreover, there is limited cooperation between MROs and OEMs pertaining to the repair standards for new equipment and components, which has made the MRO process highly complex and demanding. Such disruptive threats endanger the growth of the market in focus during the forecast period.
Key Market Trends
Engine MRO Segment to Dominate the Market During the Forecast Period
Engine MRO includes both field maintenance and depot maintenance checks. Depot-level maintenance entails material maintenance along with major repair, overhaul, or complete rebuilding of engines, parts, end items, assemblies, and subassemblies. It also includes the manufacturing of parts, technical assistance, and testing. Field-level maintenance comprises shop-type work as well as on-equipment maintenance activities at levels different to depot maintenance. Intermediate or shop-type work includes limited repair of commodity-oriented assemblies and end-items, job shop, bay, and production line operations as per requirement, software maintenance, and repair of subassemblies such as fabrication or the manufacturing of repair parts, assemblies, and components. In the engine-maintenance sector, OEMs control approximately half of the market, with the other half roughly split between independent and airline overhaul shops. For new powerplant generations specifically, operators frequently outsource engine maintenance and use full MRO-support programs. For instance, within a span of five months or from June 2017 and October 2017, and after entering into an agreement with Rolls-Royce to service the engines powering the A350s ordered by Air France, Air France KLM's MRO unit launched support services for the CFM International Leap engines that power the A320neo-family and B737 MAX jets. Such developments are anticipated to drive the engine MRO segment of the market during the forecast period.
Asia-Pacific to Witness the Highest Growth During the Forecast Period
The commercial aviation industry in APAC is expected to grow at a rapid pace over the next decade in the wake of strong demand for new narrow-body aircraft, which will enhance the need for MRO operations. Countries such as China, Japan, India, South Korea, Singapore, and Australia are significant contributors to the growth of the commercial aircraft MRO market in the region. The commercial aircraft fleet size in Asia-Pacific is estimated to grow from 7,954 to 8,216 during the forecast period, which depicts the rise in demand for MRO services in the region. The outcome of China’s maturing aviation industry is aging fleets requiring the replacement and disposal of outdated aircraft components. Airline carriers in the country have placed huge orders for new aircraft. For instance, China Eastern Airlines has an order backlog of 20 A350s and 54 B737-8s. Such huge procurements offer greater scope for regional MRO operators in terms of component pooling. Developing countries, including India, project a tremendous scope for MRO operations based on the number of new aircraft orders and the maintenance opportunities resulting from them. For instance, Airbus has a total order of around 500 aircraft in the country and is exploring the possibilities of establishing an MRO unit in the country. Singapore is also expected to achieve a dominant position in the commercial aircraft MRO market. Moreover, low-cost labor markets such as Vietnam and Thailand are getting increasingly attractive to OEMs and MROs for setting up new facilities to cater to growing demand across the region. Such developments are certain to drive the growth of the market in focus in the region.
The commercial aircraft MRO market is highly fragmented, with many players with different MRO capabilities offering services both globally and regionally. TAP M&E, GE, AAR, United Technologies Corporation, L3 Harris Technologies, Lufthansa Technik, and ST Aerospace are some of the prominent players in the market. With the advent of newer generation aircraft, the TBO (Time Between Overhaul) of the aircraft is increasing, which may challenge the existence of the smaller players in the coming years. Presently, the global commercial aircraft fleet has an average age of more than 11 years, which is expected to reduce further in the coming years. As the average age of the aircraft to be maintained decreases, the overhaul costs are projected to decrease as a whole. However, the revenue generated from regular maintenance and repair of the aircraft may continue to increase with the growing fleet.
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