How Spirit AeroSystems Is Localizing Aircraft Maintenance, Repair, And Overhaul

Last month, Spirit AeroSystems announced the expansion of its aftermarket footprint in Asia through a multi-year partnership with Evergreen Aviation Technologies Corporation (EGAT), along with a maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) customer agreement with Eva Air for Boeing 777 GE90 nacelles. Simple Flying recently had the honor of speaking with the world’s largest first-tier aerostructures manufacturer’s senior director of aftermarket services, Jim Lickteig. He shared with us how the firm is going for a localized yet global approach with its operations.

Spirit Aerospace
Spirit AeroSystems is showing its intent to be on hand to support companies in the current climate within the aviation market. Photo: Spirit AeroSystems

A local presence

Notably, EGAT is an award-winning aircraft MRO facility based in Taiwan, and it is trusted in airframe component and composite repairs. Therefore, the agreements help Spirit to grow and considerably reduce MRO costs for passenger and freight carriers in the region by keeping repairs local.

Lickteig spent 18 years with Boeing, and then when the manufacturing powerhouse sold its Wichita division in 2005, he spent the last 15 years with Spirit. He shared that with September’s announcement, customers can expect the best quality in component repair because Spirit is a designated original-equipment manufacturer that produces what it repairs.

So, in the case of EVA’s fleet of 777s, the Taiwan-based carrier is going to get proficient repair services, along with faster turnaround times. This is because Spirit will be able to forward-locate end-item rotables at EGAT. Ultimately, everything is on location, and Spirit staff have trained the maintenance technicians. Moreover, this process allows both and a material-cost reduction.

In some cases, previously, if there were a complex repair, the company would have to route the asset or the rotable unit or the component that was damaged back to Wichita. This procedure doesn’t have to happen anymore unless it’s a considerably catastrophic event.

Eva Air Boeing 777
Currently holding a total of 39 Boeing 777 aircraft, Taiwanese carrier Eva Air will benefit highly from this approach by Spirit AeroSystems. Photo: Getty Images

Savings to be had

It previously was more of a customer-supplier relationship with EGAT. If Spirit had customers in the region that needed MRO work accomplished, it would utilize EGAT to do that work. However, the pair have now entered into a strong, trusted partnership, working side by side to more efficiently provide customers with innovative solutions and to offer all the capability they’re looking for efficiently.

“The biggest cost savings are going to be in time, obviously, because we’re going to be able to do it faster. There’s not going to be freight charges that would have to be incurred if you did need to move an asset that needs repair to another repair station whether it’s in the US or even somewhere in Asia. The real savings is in cost to the customer. We’ll be able to reduce our cost to them, which is very important to us. This isn’t all about what’s in this for Spirit by being a partner with EGAT in Taipei; this is really also about, number one, our expertise in composite repairs but, number two, ‘how can we help our customer?’ ‘How can we take their problems and help solve them?'” Lickteig told Simple Flying.

“So that’s the savings they’re going to get. Time savings, because we’re going to be able to do the repairs faster. And cost, we’re going to be able to lower the cost of the repairs. We’re not going to have to worry about freight. We’re going to help them reduce their costs because, that knowledge and repair process that we’ve developed, we’re able to leverage it there, so they won’t have to go any farther than EGAT.”

Spirit Engine
Spirit AeroSystems is a trusted partner for many aviation organizations across the whole industry. Photo:Spirit AeroSystems

Across the continents

Spirit is actively engaged in similar partnerships with some other customers, partners, and suppliers across the globe. However, this model with EGAT is something that the firm would like to focus on across Europe, the Middle East, and China in the future. This is the situation in the US already. So, the company wants to spread this approach worldwide.

Altogether, Spirit’s target is to be the first call the customers make if they need help around the world. In the first instance, the company is excited to progress this partnership that is has with EGAT to support the Asia region. It recognizes that this is where there’s a high level of fleet demand.

The firm also understands that this is an area where it has to increase the readiness of the growing fleets. It is determined to be ready for the growth that will occur after this pandemic’s over. So with this project, the end-goal is to be the place in Asia where most customers want to send their repairs, such as composite work, flight controls, and cell components.

bombardier belfast
Spirit AeroSystems also recently confirmed that it will soon take over Bombardier’s Northern Ireland operations, once again furthering its own presence across the continents. Photo: Getty Images

Looking forward

Lickteig took a moment to talk about what to expect from the firm and its operations for the time between the end of the global health crisis and the end of the decade. He said that there are expectations of growth. However, this is not just growth for Spirit, but also growth for its customers. The organization is showing its dedication in helping the development of the institutions that use the firm for their aftermarket needs. Ultimately, it sees these opportunities in Asia and other areas worldwide.

Altogether Spirit wants to solve its customers’ problems. It knows there’s a need for innovation, specifically in MRO component repairs. So, it wants to be the aftermarket provider of these creative solutions for its customers.

What are your thoughts about the approach that Spirit AeroSystems is taking on with its operations? Do you feel that this is a good move for the company and its customers? Let us know what you think of the firm’s initiatives in the comment section.