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June 2017

UPS A300 cockpit modernisation bookmark

UPS is planning a major cockpit upgrade with Airbus and Honeywell for its Airbus A300F4-600R freighter fleet of 52 aircraft that will enable it to operate the aircraft until 2035 or later. Airbus is the prime contractor, with responsibility for type certification of the modified cockpit, a modification SB and a modification kit including all parts required to modify the aircraft. Honeywell is the primary supplier for the avionics, which is based on its Primus Epic range.


Kevin O’Hara, Avionics & Systems Engineering Division Manager, UPS Airlines, said the main reason for the upgrade was the capabilities of the current avionics fit, which has severe limitations. Storage space is so limited that the entire US database could not be loaded, leading to extra workload for crews. Future airspace and technology changes would also make these systems redundant in a few years. The investment for the upgrade is justified as the aircraft were delivered new between 2000 and 2006, are relatively young and operate only two or three cycles a day, which means that there is plenty of structural life left.


The avionics package includes new larger captain and first officer LCD displays (replacing obsolete CRT displays and mechanical instruments); Vertical Situational Display (VSD); new integrated standby instrument system; new next-generation Flight Management System (FMS) that supports a worldwide navigation database and Future Air Navigation System (FANS); new weather radar system with improved capabilities such as predictive hail and lightning, and turbulence detection; new ACARS; and replacement of the current Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System with an integrated system. A Central Maintenance System (CMS) will display fault messages and help troubleshooting. Rather than using individual components for aircraft functions such as FMS, ACARS and CMS, the new integrated avionics system uses processor cards installed in a cabinet. Aircraft functions are loaded onto the  unit with software.


The first aircraft goes into modification at Airbus, Toulouse in 2019 and certification is anticipated in 2020. The rest of the aircraft will be modified on parallel conversion lines at MRO facilities to be selected by UPS.

US MROs losing revenue through vacancies bookmark

The Aeronautical Repair Station Association (ARSA) has estimated that its members could miss out on $185 million in foregone revenues this year as a result of unfilled technical jobs at their companies.


A recent member survey found that 55% of respondents had unfilled positions. Based on the average number of vacancies at the responding organisations, the association estimates its members have 1,045 open technical jobs. The total economic loss figure was derived by multiplying the number of open positions by the $177,000 in average annual revenue per employee reported by respondents.


Projected across the entire population of FAA-certificated repair stations in the  United States, the number of open positions may be close to 11,000. If those positions go unfilled, the industry could stand to miss out on as much as $1.95 billion in economic activity in 2017.


ARSA Executive Vice President Christian Klein said: “These numbers are a snapshot of how just one industry is being affected by the technical worker shortage plaguing the US economy. Well-paying jobs in the high-tech aviation maintenance sector are going unfilled because workers are not available or candidates lack basics skills. We hope lawmakers working career technical education policy on Capitol Hill – including the recently-introduced Perkins reauthorisation bill – will keep the aviation industry in mind when crafting solutions. But Washington can’t solve this problem alone. Expanding the base of eligible job candidates and better aligning school curricula with repair station needs will require greater industry engagement at the local, state, and federal levels.” 


The worker shortage has become a major concern for maintenance providers. When asked to indicate the most-pressing risks to company business outlook, “difficulty finding and retaining technical talent” tied with “regulatory costs/burdens” among survey respondents. Availability of maintenance information, international regulatory inconsistencies and restrictions on trade rounded out the top five respondent concerns. 


Despite these challenges, the survey found ARSA’s membership to be generally optimistic about the future. More than 90% of member companies expect their markets to expand or remain stable this year and more than half plan to add positions. The survey also underscored the significant impact that international business has on repair stations: 31% of revenues for the average US-headquartered respondent came from customers outside North America.


ARSA Member Survey Respondent Overview:


  • 80 ARSA member companies from around the world provided input for the survey, which was conducted during 1Q17


  • Respondents reported total 2016 gross annual revenues of $1.791 billion


  • 88% of respondents were headquartered in the United States


  • Respondents reported operating facilities in 29 of the 50 US states
  • The best represented US states were Florida (17% of respondents reported having facilities), California (17%), Texas (16%), Georgia (10%) and Ohio (10%).

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