Roberto Corral
Vice President and General Manager

Interior Expert Sees Significant Opportunity in MRO Market

Fri, 12/01/2017 - 10:30

With NAICM on the horizon, the aerospace industry in Mexico is expecting the MRO market to take off, says Roberto Corral, Vice President and General Manager of Innocentro, which consults, engineers and manufactures aircraft and train interiors and component. He sees MRO services as the company’s next growth opportunity, especially in Queretaro and northern Mexico.
“This project has been on the back burner since 2011. Our analysis of MRO operations at Los Angeles airports showed the market is very segmented in the region. Large aircraft, used mostly by commercial airlines, are a good business for line maintenance, which requires close collaboration with OEMs and to have their certified approval to work on their aircraft. Our goal is to become an in-shop line maintenance supplier as an addition to our current interiors business. At this point we plan to focus on all types of aircraft.”
Corral acknowledges that the road to becoming an MRO might not be an easy one. “It is difficult to invest in an MRO without assured clients, especially for line maintenance. We are in conversations with several potential customers to make alliances with MROs in the US to take advantage of their experience,” he says. “We have been studying this project for the past six years. This segment requires many certifications and trust from clients.”
The company sees the MRO market as a significant opportunity, especially in the long term. “Once NAICM is built the opportunities for MROs will skyrocket, especially since the airport will have the capacity to receive more aircraft.” The opportunity lies in the competitive offer available close to the US border and the technical and engineering talent the region has. “Unlike in other countries, most airports in Mexico do not have the capabilities to provide line maintenance.” But while the country has varied talent, it is not always of the right kind. “Countries such as the US, Germany and Singapore have the culture of working directly with MROs, but Mexico is still fairly new in such operations. MRO services require extremely skilled technicians and finding them will be a challenge in the country. It will be hard to acquire and retain them if we do not have sufficient volume to keep them busy at all times.”
To get ahead of the game, Innocentro is investing in training. “We are collaborating with universities to ensure their curricula are up to par with the requirements of the sector. This has not been the case so far with most universities. We recently allied with UANL, which has a strong aeronautical engineering department, to develop a internship prototype to compete initially in Europe for 2018,” says Corral. Most recent graduates have little experience in aerospace, as most are trained for the metal-mechanic or the automotive industries. “The aerospace industry as a whole is facing a potential lack of talent as most engineers and experts from the baby boomer generation have retired. We are working with the aerospace clusters and FEMIA to fill the need for personnel in the sector for the next five, 10 and 20 years.”
Innocentro has one facility in the US and two in Mexico and is leveraging its experience and increasing its mechanical and electrical capabilities. Interiors will continue to be the core of Innocentro’s business. The company has also won a shared Crystal Cabin Award for a trolley that is now used by Lufthansa in its Airbus fleet.
The company, which celebrated its 15-year anniversary in 2017, has enjoyed stellar growth but is being conservative in its expectations. “Innocentro will grow by 100 percent in sales in 2017.” Corral says. “Our forecast for 2018 will be more modest. We have investments in the pipeline, we are continually analyzing how the market will behave towards 2020.”