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How Honeywell Aerospace is helping to support aircraft demand in Asia-Pacific

Air travel demand in the Asia-Pacific region is expected to exceed pre-COVID levels in 2024. 

According to the IATA, Asia-Pacific airlines saw a 45.4% increase in January 2024 traffic compared to the same month in 2023. This is a solid indication that the region is continuing to recover at a strong pace following the lifting of pandemic restrictions.

Boeing’s aircraft forecast data for 2023–2042 shows that within that time period Southeast Asia alone will experience airline fleet growth of 6.9% and airline traffic growth (RPK) of 9.5%. 

But how can the industry ensure that fleet demand and growth is properly supported at this time?

At the 2024 Singapore Airshow, AeroTime sat down with Eric Ai, Vice President of Asia-Pacific Airlines at Honeywell Aerospace, to discuss the role of MRO (Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul) companies and the importance of enhancing safety during the surge in demand for air travel.

More importantly, he addressed the hurdles and opportunities presented by airline expansion, and Honeywell Aerospace’s ongoing initiatives to support a growing travel sector in the Asia-Pacific region.

The role of MRO in a fast-growing APAC region

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) identified Asia-Pacific to be the fastest-growing economic powerhouse globally.

The growing middle-class population in the region is driving the huge demand in air travel. 

According to Ai, Honeywell forecasted 2024’s flying hours to either return to or exceed the figure recorded before the pandemic. The business of MRO, Ai said, is driven by flight hours, so the role of maintenance, repair, and overhaul is crucial to support this growth. 

Ai said that he sees the demand for heavy and component maintenance. Among the different types of aircraft maintenance, heavy maintenance is performed less frequently, but the checks are more in-depth, thorough, and longer. Component maintenance, on the other hand, consists of working on specific detached parts of the aircraft.

Image source: aappp / Shutterstock.com

“Utilization is driven by RMO [Retrofit Modification Order], and that will definitely drive the demand for MRO,” Ai said. “We have actually been seeing that the first level of demand is in aircraft heavy maintenance, and component maintenance [is] next.” 

To support this demand, Ai referred to Honeywell’s strategic stronghold in the Asia-Pacific region.

Image: Honeywell Aerospace

“Here in Singapore, we have our APU [Auxiliary Power Unit], one of Honeywell’s biggest APU shops in the world,” Ai said. “We also have our avionics repair shop located in Penang, Malaysia, which is not only an MRO shop but also an OEM [Original Equipment Manufacturer]  parts manufacturing shop.” 

“And that’s just outside of China. Within China, we have positioned ourselves very well. We have a facility in Xiamen that’s doing APU repair. Honeywell also has a center in Shanghai doing avionics,” Ai added.

Ai also emphasized that when it comes to MRO, Honeywell endeavors to get close to its customers.

“As close as possible, so we are well-positioned within the region,” he added. 

A renewed look at MRO

Ai said that while the demand for MRO is growing, the pandemic made Honeywell “more open” with how it viewed the activities and processes. Before the global crisis, Ai noted, Honeywell handled all its MRO capabilities within the company.

Juice Flair / Shutterstock.com

“We wanted to manage and establish MRO on our own,” Ai said. “But during and after COVID, we took a different and more open approach.”

Honeywell Is now open to licensing out some of its MRO capabilities to its channel partners in the region. 

“Our channel partners will be utilizing Honeywell’s IP Tech knowledge, and we will deeply look into their procedures to make sure they are following our quality standards,” Ai said. “Our channel partners act as an extension to servicing our customers.”

Safeguarding against challenges and seizing opportunities

A fast-growing market also comes with its own set of challenges. One of these, Ai said, is supply chain constraint, which is not just concentrated in one region, but is being experienced globally. 

With Honeywell having such a broad product line, including avionics, mechanical components and engine and power syste m parts, the company formed two special task teams to ensure the smooth flow of operations and minimal disruption. 

The first team, which is customer-focused, works directly with its suppliers in relation to short-term or immediate fixes. The second, which ensures customer-readiness, is assigned to work on long-term services.

To address the increased demand, Ai said that Honeywell is growing its talent in the Asia-Pacific region. 

Image: Pavel Mikheyev / Shutterstock.com

“We are expanding our workforce in some of our high-growth countries,” Ai said. “Last year, we expanded our staff in Vietnam and Indonesia to catch up with the demand in those regions.” 

Ai added: “It’s about getting the right talent, and making sure we build and help them.”

Ai forecasted an opportunity for more widebody aircraft in the Asia-Pacific region, an opinion shared by Airbus APAC President Anand Stanley. 

“The aircraft heavy and component level maintenance business is moving a lot towards APAC,” Ai explained. “So our major strategic partners are getting a lot more footprint, and attracting more widebody aircraft to the region.” 

Honeywell’s safety enhancement and innovation

Although we are seeing an impressive demand for air travel in 2024, there have also been a number of safety-related incidents worldwide in commercial aviation.

How is Honeywell placing safety at the forefront of its services and products?  

“If you look at Honeywell, our product line in the aircraft and aerospace technology product line always focuses on two things: safety enhancement and efficiency,” Ai said.

Ai named a number of Honeywell products that help facilitate a pilot’s situational awareness and improve an aircraft’s safety enhancement:  EGPWS [Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning Sys tems] ,radar transponders and Surface Indications and Alert Sys tem [SURF IA], a safety technology that is intended to reduce accidents and collisions on runways. 

Image: Honeywell Aerospace

“We are also continuing to enhance weather radar capabilities like providing the ability to detect hail or traumatic weather conditions so that pilots can make much better decisions to improve flight safety,” Ai said.

As for runway incursions, Ai said that Honeywell developed the Runway Awareness and Advisory Sys tem (RAAS), a heads-up advisory sys tem with aural alerts to increase the pilot’s situational awareness during ground and air operations relative to the runway. This helps minimize the risk of runway incursions and reduce operational costs.

“From a product perspective we continue to provide technology upgrades towards safety enhancement,” Ai said. 

Ai added that Honeywell also has an Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) Team to make sure that the company and its channel partners are achieving high standards in safety.

Ongoing efforts to minimize operational disruption

Ai emphasized that Honeywell’s priority when supporting airlines is to ensure they have enough materials and products to avoid any aircraft on ground and disruptions, which often result in a heavy financial toll on companies.

To help realize this kind of support, Ai said that Honeywell is continually enhancing its AOG (Aircraft on Ground) Center, which has dedicated support teams that are available 24/7. 

Image: Honeywell Aerospace

On top of this, Honeywell is also making sure that customer experience is convenient and smooth. Ai said that the company has a Customer Portal site where Honeywell customers can track orders, get 24/7 technical help, access technical publications like operating manuals, and get customized updates such as ETA of parts delivery. Honeywell is also gearing up its customer service and support team accordingly. 

The Airports Council International (ACI) is projecting passenger traffic in Asia-Pacific to reach nearly 3.4 billion passengers in 2024, an increase of about 14% from 2023. 

It appears that Honeywell is well-positioned and armed to support this growth. 

The post How Honeywell Aerospace is helping to support aircraft demand in Asia-Pacific appeared first on AeroTime.

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