Aviation Prepares for New AgeFri, 12/01/2017 - 10:50
It stands to reason that every technological advance that improves safety should be embraced. Yet, Mexican aircraft owners are dragging their feet to equip a surveillance system that, due to its benefits, will soon become mandatory. To help them, Mexican MRO Monterrey Jet Center has incorporated capabilities to install this game-changing system.
Radar technology has been directing air control operations at most airports since the 1950s. Over the past few years, this technology has been gradually replaced by automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS–B). The FAA indicates that this technology benefits pilots, passengers, controllers, airports and airlines by facilitating precise tracking of aircraft via satellite. Using this system, aircraft determine their own position using satellite technology and autonomously broadcast it to air traffic control and other aircraft. While this technology is already implemented in Europe, Canada and Australia, both Mexico and the US will not make it mandatory for most aircraft until 2020.
Besides its advantages for pilots, passengers and airports, ADS-B is also a good business opportunity. “As aircraft will be unable to fly without being equipped with this system, a large market for its installation will emerge,” says Roberto Marcos, Vice President of Monterrey Jet Center. The MRO, which specializes in Hawker aircraft, has almost 40 years of experience providing aircraft maintenance. While maintenance is its core, the company also provides painting services and repairs interiors. Its long experience in the market has allowed Monterrey Jet Center to identify potential opportunities, such as the installation of the ADS-B. The MRO expects the installation of this system, for which it is already certified, to boost its business.
Marcos is also making significant efforts to communicate the importance of this system to Mexican aviation companies. He organizes Amigos de la Aviación (Friends of Aviation), a 30-year old event that “aims to solve the problems general aviation and airlines are facing, especially regarding the relationship between the US and Mexico, in terms of regulations and equipment.”
US pilot owners, aware of the importance of this system and the deadline for its implementation, are actively installing it. Mexico is behaving differently. “Very few have installed the system,” he adds, “as many are waiting to install it at the last minute. This will create problems down the line because the equipment takes 15 days to install and more to gain DGAC’s authorization.” Waiting too long could effectively ground some planes.
Marcos believes that the sector is fully aware that it will need to install this system, but that one reason for postponing its installation might be the significant investment needed. “Aircraft with an old system require extensive changes to their cockpit, which can reach US$200,000,” says Marcos. “Owners of aircraft worth US$400,000 are unlikely to make this investment as they would prefer to sell it.” This situation might lead to an increase in the sale of small aircraft, but sellers might have trouble finding buyers who are willing to pay both for the aircraft and for the ADS-B installation. As the use of this system becomes more widespread, aircraft that do not include it will find their flight possibilities limited.
While attractive, the installation of the ADS-B system is not the only area that interests Monterrey Jet Center. The MRO is also analyzing other possibilities. Just in 2016 it signed a partnership with Duncan Aviation to provide maintenance for the TFE731 engine and the MRO is looking for more. “We plan to increase the number of services we provide to them,” says Marcos, “and we have similar partnerships with StandardAero, Dallas Airmotive, Garmin and JSSI and GOGO Wi-Fi system.” Marcos comments that the most common aircraft he receives are Hawker Beechcraft, followed by Embraer 500, 600 and 650. Hawker Beechcraft are the most popular aircraft landing at ADN and Marcos expects this trend to continue for the next five to six years.
During 2017, the company will focus on acquiring more tools to increase its service range, especially for Embraer aircraft. This will be a significant investment. “Tooling is expensive but there are maintenance processes that cannot be done without the right tools.” For 2017, the company expects to grow by 5 percent but believes that 2018 will be a better year.