Why the A220 represents an opportunity for the Air France-KLM engineering unit | Analysis
Air France Industries KLM Engineering & Maintenance strengthens the support capabilities of Airbus A220 as it sees an opportunity to establish itself as the airline’s first MRO supplier to offer nose-to-tail services on new generation aircraft .
In September, Air France is expected to receive the first of the 60 A220-300s ordered in 2019. The French national carrier has also taken 30 options and 30 acquisition rights for the Pratt & Whitney PW1500G jet, which has entered service – under its origin Image Bombardier CSeries – in 2016.
Benjamin Moreau, vice president of component product at AFI KLM E&M, tells Cirium that the MRO provider sees a growing market for A220 support services “in all regions” over the next decade. He describes the A220 as “one of the most resilient types of aircraft” amid the pandemic and predicts that it will play a key role for many operators in the post-Covid world.
Data from the Cirium fleet shows that out of 163 A220, 32 – 13 A220-100 and 19 -300 – were listed as stored on May 24. In addition to the aircraft delivered, Airbus obtained 494 orders, 130 options and 167 acquisition rights for the two models.
Among the largest such operators are Air Baltic, Air Canada, Delta Air Lines, EgyptAir, Korean Air and Swiss, while the largest order holders are Air France, US start-up Breeze Airways, JetBlue Airways and various donors.
Like other airline-affiliated maintenance companies, AFI KLM E&M views the operational experience gained through its parent operator as a differentiator from pure MRO and OEM after-sales service providers. . “We believe that airlines around the world need an MRO airline providing solutions on the A220,” says Moreau. “No one is on the [A220] market with this type of knowledge and added value for airlines. “
Moreau acknowledges that other MRO providers affiliated with A220 operators have made inroads in establishing support capabilities for the aircraft. Delta TechOps serves the PW1500G as a partner in the P&W aftermarket network – a role AFI KLM E&M is establishing for its engine shop in Orly – while Lufthansa Technik supports the PW1500G in its regional engine shop in Alzey.
The German supplier is also strengthening the capabilities of Poland-based PW1000G overhaul supplier EME Aero, jointly owned with partner P&W MTU.
However, according to AFI KLM E&M Moreau, no other airline MRO provider today offers a full range of A220 services. AFI KLM E&M will carry out cell checks for its parent fleet and does not exclude that such services may be offered to third-party customers. “Let’s see how the market evolves on this,” says Moreau. But the MRO Group’s third-party business is primarily focused on more lucrative component and engine services. Moreau sees a particular opportunity by offering component services in combination with predictive maintenance solutions based on the experience of operating A220s and developing analyzes for other types.
While predictive maintenance was a hot topic for some time before the pandemic, Moreau believes that the demand for intelligent MRO services that promise to increase aircraft reliability through targeted maintenance actions will be particularly high in the post environment. -Covid. According to him, AFI KLM E&M is in talks with several airlines to develop such solutions for the A220s.
In addition to the components of the airframe, AFI KLM E&M wishes to ensure the maintenance of the auxiliary power units (APU) and the nacelles. Earlier this year, supplier MRO announced that its Dutch subsidiary Epcor will maintain the Honeywell APU for the A220 and that AFI KLM E&M will form a joint venture with US aerospace manufacturer Triumph to overhaul the ‘new’ nacelles. generation ”for customers based in the Americas.
The partnerships AFI KLM E&M previously had with Collins Aerospace, Honeywell, Liebherr, Meggitt and Parker are being extended to cover A220 equipment, Moreau says. And new partnerships have also been developed – the PW1500G will be the first modern Pratt & Whitney engine AFI KLM E&M will service its overhaul shop in addition to the Engine Alliance GP7200s, which the US manufacturer has produced jointly with GE Aviation as an option for the ‘Airbus. A380. Air France-KLM is a long-standing customer of GE and its CFM International joint venture with Safran.
For the Embraer E-Jet family, which Air France and KLM operate in their regional subsidiaries, AFI KLM E&M has chosen to provide component support through its subsidiary Spairliners. The Germany-based company – jointly owned by AFI and Lufthansa Technik – was originally formed in 2005 to pool resources for the support of A380 components at their parent carriers and third-party customers, in a spare parts context. costly and fleet replacement for the type.
In 2013, Spairliners’ mission was extended to the E-Jet family despite the aircraft’s relatively large operator base and installed fleet. Like the A380 at the time, the E-Jet family is operated by both parents of Spairliner.
Moreau claims that AFI KLM E&M has decided to independently support the operators of the A220, mainly because he sees sufficient market volume to make the necessary investments to support the aircraft, but also because the MRO provider could develop the required technical capacities more quickly on their own initiative.
He says that while AFI KLM E&M considered supporting A220 via optional Spairliners, he suggests that such an effort might not have been shared equally between the parents of the joint venture. “When you build partnerships, you look at what other partners can bring to that partnership; what is the base load; what is the market; what are the capacities brought by the parts… You always look at all these combinations and make your choice. “
Lufthansa group carrier Swiss operates the A220, but the airline chose to maintain it through Bombardier’s component support program when the aircraft entered service in 2016.
A220 VERSUS EMBRAER E2
Moreau reveals that AFI KLM E&M has decided not to develop support capabilities for the second-generation E-Jets – the main competitor of the A220 – even though KLM Cityhopper introduced the E195-E2 earlier this year. The carrier has a total of 25 E195-E2s to replace the older first-generation E190s in its fleet, which also includes first-generation E175s. The decision against E2 support capabilities was made because AFI KLM E&M sees fewer MRO prospects for the re-winged and re-engineered aircraft than the A220.
Data from Cirium’s fleets shows that Embraer delivered 39 E2s to airlines, seven of which were listed as in stock on May 24. The Brazilian aircraft has secured 166 additional orders, 52 options and 265 purchase rights for the E2 family.
Moreau says that while the E2s have “some commonality” with the first generation E-Jets, supporting the E2 generation would require the development of new capabilities and substantial spare parts. He refuses to disclose how KLM will support its E2 fleet, but insists the decision not to support E2s internally will not endanger Spairliners’ operations.
Hamburg-based Spairliners has a “good future” as a service provider for the initial E-Jet family, says Moreau. He argues that Spairliners remains a “very efficient” company even though several A380 operators have said they do not see a post-Covid future for ultra-wide aircraft. Air France prematurely withdrew its entire A380 fleet in 2020.
At the same time, AFI KLM E&M is setting up a component pool for the inbound A220 fleet of its parent company and third party customers. Several operators have expressed interest in joining the pool, the MRO provider said.
Moreau notes that building a component pool is an ongoing process that depends on the size of the fleet supported and the age of the aircraft. Starting with a minimum range of spare parts required when the first aircraft enters service, the inventory will be gradually expanded as the demand for spare parts increases. Aircraft reliability data and projections of when equipment is likely to need to be replaced are critical to managing the procurement of spare parts and the associated capital investment.
This involves what Moreau describes as a “very dynamic” process of balancing customer service requirements against the cost of putting spare parts on the shelves. “You can still buy a lot of inventory,” he says. “But that’s not the best way to provide service to airlines.”
This analysis is written by Michael Gubisch, member of the Cirium reporting team based in London.