Amid global supply chain challenges, Indian airlines are opting for local suppliers for non-critical aircraft components, aiming to gain cost and time advantages.
Facing disruptions in flight operations due to a shortage of spare parts amid global supply chain challenges, Indian airlines are seeking non-critical aircraft components from local suppliers, according to industry insiders.
Air India and IndiGo executives state that the prevailing trend in the United States is now being embraced by the Indian aviation sector, offering both cost and time advantages for the carriers.
The significant plane orders made by Indian airlines are not only poised to result in a substantial fleet but will also empower domestic carriers to negotiate advantageous terms with lessors for aircraft leasing and the utilization of local non-critical components, resulting in cost savings of over 40%.
According to industry executives speaking at the Aero MRO India 2023 event in New Delhi, the availability time for certain parts is expected to decrease from six months to under 30 days.
I had to import paper used for printers in an aircraft… Why can’t I use local paper? Even the stickers on the table, toilet buffers, or soap dispenser bottles… These are minor aspects we are considering. If it is not a critical part, it should be acceptable. In certain leases, I made it a point to stipulate that non-critical parts should be accepted.
We are in the process of obtaining approvals, stated Sisira Kanta Dash, Chief Technical Officer at Air India. In aviation terminology, non-critical parts of an aircraft fall under Part 21 of the Parts Manufacturer Approval, which mandates compliance for sourcing products, appliances, and parts with applicable designs through authorized entities.
IndiGo initiated a procedure two years ago to secure approvals from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation for the purchase of non-critical, non-structural items. The airline has since incorporated indigenous non-critical parts into its aircraft. “It is the way forward. Acceptance is growing.
A few years ago, we launched a project at IndiGo to identify non-critical items such as paper or non-critical, non-load-bearing items for cabins. We now have in-house capability to manufacture a part and use it on our aircraft,” explained Parichay Datta, Vice President and Deputy Head of Engineering at IndiGo.
The largest airline has encountered numerous situations where it had to await small parts from the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) while the galleys and seats were being produced.
We did not encounter any resistance from the regulator. In fact, they were very cooperative in granting us approvals. We began with some parts, and we plan to incorporate many more non-structural, non-critical items within the cabin, added Datta.
The strategy of third-party or in-house production of non-critical parts is beneficial for airlines operating older aircraft, especially when these small parts are no longer available in the market or are in short supply, according to executives.
Recognizing the increasing demand for these parts, the Indian maintenance, repair, and overhaul industry is also gearing up to enhance its capacity.
The association is prepared to undertake the development of small parts that align with the standards accepted by the Indian airlines industry.
However, we require clear guidelines from the airlines regarding what is deemed acceptable in the early stages of design and production,” stated Bharat Malkani, President of the MRO Association of India.