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Survey: 3-D technology may lower cost of aviation replacement parts

Use of 3-D printing in the aviation industry will most likely be limited in the near-term to replacement parts, rather than proprietary spares, according to an annual survey by management consulting firm Oliver Wyman.


In the 2014 MRO Survey, 60 per cent of respondents say the biggest benefit to the industry of the budding adaptive manufacturing technology will be a lower cost of replacement parts, and 54 per cent say the technology could cut investment in inventory. Only 40 per cent of respondents expect the technology will create another option for higher-value spare parts.

“While 3-D printing in any industry has the potential to erode existing protections of proprietary technology, the survey results suggest industry participants expect original equipment manufacturers to find ways to protect their technology from adaptive manufacturing by others,” said Oliver Wyman partner Chris Spafford, who led the survey on aviation maintenance, repair, and overhaul.

This year’s survey also shows M&A is heating up for independent maintenance companies. Most of the deal activity is from larger MROs and private equity investors.

The survey further confirms that U.S. airlines are repatriating airframe maintenance, moving work back to North America from overseas. In this year’s survey, 60 percent of airline respondents say they are willing to pay up to a 5 percent more for a domestic provider, and 20 percent indicate a willingness to accept up to 15 percent higher costs.

That’s good news for aviation mechanics: 32 per cent of the North American MROs surveyed say they are hiring to expand operations, and 48 percent are hiring to sustain headcount.

To view the entire report, go to MRO Survey 2014 Findings.

About the MRO Survey
Going on its second decade, the annual MRO survey produced by Oliver Wyman is an industry standard for information about changing trends in the MRO sector. The survey queries leaders across the MRO industry, including top executives from airline operations, procurement and engineering departments, captive and independent maintenance providers, OEM aftermarket divisions, and financing and leasing professionals.

Oliver Wyman reports that respondents are overwhelmingly in senior executive and C-suite positions and represent a global cross section of the industry.

For more information, visit www.oliverwyman.com.