The efficient and cost-effective supply of parts for the general aviation fleet is a major challenge for the industry.
The reason for this is because, as the general aviation fleet ages, it has many aircraft 60 or 70 years old still in regular service. So the need to carry stock for this huge time range remains, and the cost of holding such stock becomes exorbitantly expensive. In addition, the quantities demanded are often so low that the economies of scale achieved by the motor industry are not available, and thus aircraft owners often complain about the cost of new parts.
However, the challenge remains for the manufacturers to hold parts that may be long obsolete in stock for the few aircraft of their type of that require them that may still be flying. And then getting those rare parts delivered, often to very remote locations as quickly as possible to minimize aircraft on the ground (AOG) down time, poses significant logistical challenges.
Another ongoing challenge, particularly at the larger end of the aircraft market, has been the supply of pirate parts. Increasingly, as the price of parts from the original equipment manufacturers has escalated, so the opportunity for pirate parts suppliers to corrupt the market as increased. What is also important to appreciate is that not all illegal or dangerous parts may necessarily have been made by unapproved or uncertified manufacturers. A illegal part may be one that was nearing the end of its life which has been removed from an aircraft and installed in another as a relatively new part – with a much longer life.
For this reason, the provenance of parts must be rigorously guarded by both the supplier and the aircraft maintenance organisation. The effective tracking of part numbers is an essential requirement in this regard and it is not unheard of for an entire airline’s fleet to be grounded if time expired parts are found to have been used.