With nine decades behind them, Air France Industries KLM Engineering & Maintenance (AFI KLM E&M) is showing that old MROs still have new tricks. The company is global; they’re 14,000 employees serving 200 customers and nearly 3,000 aircraft.
“To guarantee a rapid response, we ensure we are located close to our customers’ own operations. Wherever they are, our global network means that they have tailored, fast-turnaround and cost-effective services on their doorstep,” said AFI KLM E&M spokesman Nicolas Robineau.
Working with airlines a world over requires innovation and adaptiveness, two traits that Robineau said are precisely what make up the foundation of AFI KLM E&M’s DNA. “As an airline MRO, we have developed a unique portfolio of expertise and engineering capabilities that have resulted in a vast number of high-value innovations,” Robineau stated.
These innovations are a part of AFI KLM E&M’s “MRO Lab” – a program where all of the company’s innovations and its network affiliates converge.
“Specially tailored to the challenges of aircraft maintenance, the innovations are the fruit of continuous development aimed at satisfying the requirements of airline operating performance,” Robineau said. “It generates scale effects, optimizes fleet performance and improves airworthiness. All our innovative solutions are tested and trialed in-house to ensure our customers get the BEST4YOU.”
The predictive maintenance tool Prognos is one of the MRO Labs’ creation, developed in 2015. Prognos retrieves data daily from an aircraft, both inflight and during turnarounds, to be securely stored and analyzed daily by AFI KLM E&M’s engineers.
“[Prognos] is continuously in improvement for new generation aircraft. Easily implemented, this Big Data solution for maintenance services is both a tool and an analysis,” Robineau added. “We have developed and consolidated a portfolio dedicated to the new platform for Next-Gen aircraft and engines as A350, 787, A330neo and A320neo, but also on an engine like LEAP that includes a wide range of offers and covers the full range of technical maintenance services.”
Robineau said that the MRO sees predictive maintenance as being key to AFI KLM E&M’s future.
“We are convinced that predictive maintenance and innovation globally have to be part of our growth. We continue to explore and develop new technologies and new products to make sure we keep our competitive advantage and provide value to our customers,” he said.
Adaptive tools such as Prognos allow AFI KLM E&M to keep on top of the needs of their hundreds of customers and the range of support the MRO provides them. AFI KLM E&M’s technical support includes:
- Line maintenance.
- Engine overhaul.
- Aerostructure maintenance.
- Technical training.
- Consulting, on-wing services.
- Cabin modification.
- Predictive maintenance with Prognos.
- Military products.
- Logistics and APU.
“Our portfolio of capabilities, well-positioned on next gen aircraft and technologies, is very extensive and adapted for all airlines, operators or lessors worldwide,” Robineau noted.
AFI KLM E&M’s activity is backed by an efficient global network of subsidiaries, joint-venture and partnerships worldwide and growing their global presence is something the company says it will continue to do. “We will continue to extend our worldwide footprint by building new partnerships and consolidate others already existing. Of course, we will continue to develop our capabilities portfolio on the new platforms and aircraft,” said Robineau.
To make sure they are well connected to the “real problems,” AFI KLM E&M have Innovation Leaders from the MRO Lab based in the different business units and, in some cases, with strategic customer like Air Asia locally in Kuala Lumpur. Robineau said this presence with customers allows for co-innovation and the development of new digital solutions such as stock optimization and benchmark best practices.
Meeting Challenge with Innovation
As Robineau describes, the MRO industry closely follows that of the world's commercial fleets and their use, and with the world still well in the grips of the COVID-19 pandemic, what exactly the future holds is unknown.
“The depth and length of the crisis is not yet known, but it will depend on several factors, including the reduction in flight hours, fleet management and optimization of maintenance actions, the accelerated transition to new generation aircraft, but also possible bankruptcies or attritions,” he mentioned.
Unpredictability and the need to preserve cash flow will lead airlines to demand more flexibility in maintenance offers, with MROs having to adapt their offers and models accordingly by providing tailor-made solutions adapted to each customers situation, Robineau said.
And AFI KLM E&M sees themselves well-positioned and able to adapt to the demands of the crisis.
“We have all the ingredients we need to keep the lead and drive our environment. We can count on the strong skills of our employees, our state-of-the-art facilities and the huge investments made during the 15 past years. We are perfectly in line with the evolution of the market and consistent with a positioning deliberately focused on the latest generation of aircraft. It is with these assets that we intend to provide solutions adapted to the MRO market following the COVID-19 crisis,” Robineau said.
Another major factor that AFI KLM E&M is preparing for is the need to meet the environmental concerns around aviation. Robineau said this will be a major challenge for the MRO industry.
“Airlines around the world, in particular in Europe, are challenged regarding the impact of their operations on the environment; maintenance activities must play a role and take their full place in meeting this challenge. This is not a new issue for AFI KLM E&M, as we are already well advanced in terms of circular economy or the reduction of polluting emissions. As an example, by reducing the stocks, by repairing instead of replacing and reducing the fuel consumption, big data technologies participate to reduce the impact of the aeronautic industry on the environment,” Robineau said.
Robineau added that Prognos was identified and certified last year as an environmentally efficient solution by the Solar Impulse Foundation.
With the world in a constant state of flux, AFI KLM E&M sees innovation and adaption as the only certainty to driving their business and, as Robineau said, the MRO has all the ingredients it needs to keep the lead and drive their environment through the MRO Lab.
“In this spirit, the MRO Lab program, where all the innovations of AFI KLM E&M and its network converge, will be very useful to adapt us in the coming years. Specially tailored to the challenges of aircraft maintenance, The MRO Lab, which already proves its efficiency, focuses on strategic areas of the MRO industry, ranging from technician mobility to customer experience through the Internet of Things, Big Data applications, predictive maintenance, digitization, additive manufacturing and artificial intelligence,” he said.