Wednesday 21 August 2019

Scope for Irish firms in evolving US aviation

'Meanwhile, the burgeoning commercial space industry is opening entire market segments, as smaller companies can start to contribute to the future of aerospace, space and satellite technologies.' Stock photo: Getty
'Meanwhile, the burgeoning commercial space industry is opening entire market segments, as smaller companies can start to contribute to the future of aerospace, space and satellite technologies.' Stock photo: Getty

Timothy Sinnott

The aerospace and aviation industry's rising adoption of new technologies is impacting all stages of design, manufacturing, operation, maintenance and overhaul. As the market adjusts, the demand for new and innovative suppliers is growing and creating new opportunities for Irish companies.

These new technologies are enabling changes in project management, production demand and fleet maintenance across all aspects of the industry. Additive manufacturing and more custom precision engineering capabilities are allowing longer-term support for existing fleets, as custom parts are more readily available from suppliers.

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Meanwhile, the burgeoning commercial space industry is opening entire market segments, as smaller companies can start to contribute to the future of aerospace, space and satellite technologies. Innovative composite materials are being used both to replace old components and in new designs of lighter-than-ever parts.

Demand for new technologies is adding pressure on suppliers and maintenance operations to stay up-to-date with changing business needs while maintaining competitive positioning.

Major industry disruptions, such as the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max fleet, place additional stress on supply chains, as long-term project schedules and fleet strategies are forced to adjust to unexpectedly uncertain production targets.

Irish companies can help to solve these challenges by delivering world-class part designs, manufacturing, custom engineering services, and innovative technology solutions to both new and old segments of the industry.

As the industry continues to adopt new technologies, the need for flexible, highly technical and diverse suppliers will grow. Thanks to one of the best technical workforces in the world, combined with a history of excellence in the aerospace and aviation field, Irish companies are well-positioned to benefit from these trends.

With the US aerospace market one of the largest in the world, Irish firms should be focused with intent when they look to expand into it.

The industry moves slowly and is built on establishing long-term relationships and supplier trust. Choosing the right region and set of customers to establish expansion around is critical to finding early and scalable success.

Irish companies should focus on their best offerings and prioritise the capabilities that set them apart from their competition. Being present in the region, attending industry events, and building network connections are the best steps to developing sustainable success.

One such event is MRO Americas, a trade show hosted by the Aviation Week publishers. The event gives companies the opportunity to meet, exhibit alongside, and form relationships with firms from all sectors of the industry.

The chance to directly meet in-market with individual customers from all levels and groups of their organisations helps to form lasting relationships, and can be critical in closing new business.

For the right companies, these industry events help establish recognition, build reputation, and expand engagement in their respective areas of expertise.

Enterprise Ireland has had an individual presence at MRO for many years but has joined with exhibiting clients for the past two years. The presence grew from six to eight Irish companies between 2018 and 2019.

Irish companies that attended this year included: Aerospace Software Developments, which provides RFID tracking solutions for aviation; Airtel ATN, a provider of mobile ramp testers for aeronautical data link communication systems; ATA Tools, a global supplier of tungsten carbide burs and abrasives; Eirtech Aviation Services, the specialist aviation services company; and JB Roche, which manufactures advanced inflatable shelters.

Also attending was Shannon International Aviation Services Centre, tasked with building on the established aerospace and aviation cluster in Shannon; and T&T Precision, which specialises in the manufacture of precision machined components; and TEAM Accessories, the MRO service provider.

The opportunity to present the full range of Irish capabilities within a larger area has helped companies we support to stand out at this very large trade show. While that enhanced their individual recognition, it also helped to reinforce the capability and world-class technologies coming from the whole of Ireland.

Timothy Sinnott is senior vice-president of industrial technologies based at Enterprise Ireland's office in Austin, Texas

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