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Short supply chains as airlines emerge from pandemic impact

written by Staff reporter | March 15, 2021
Warren Thyer working on a Boeing 787 Panel Assy

The COVID pandemic has impacted individuals, companies and industries alike. While some adapted and benefited from this disruption, many were less fortunate and had to find new ways to survive or perish. The airline industry and all of its associated segments was one of the hardest hit.

Scott Collins is the Aerospace Business Development Manager at Quickstep Technologies, Australia’s largest independent aerospace composites solutions provider. With Quickstep’s recent acquisition of Boeing’s component repair capability in Melbourne, and the creation of Quickstep Aerospace Services (QAS), Collins is keen to build the new brand, grow the business and create new jobs in Melbourne’s MRO sector. The QAS facility is located next to Melbourne Airport at Tullamarine, one of Australia’s rapidly growing MRO hubs. Collins’ experience stretches across the breadth of the MRO sector, previously working with OEM’s and a major regional airline in several supplier focused positions before joining Quickstep.

“The international border closures over the last year have emphasised the importance of shortening the MRO supply chain,” says Collins. “Opportunities to pull work back into Australia have arisen due to the downturn in air traffic and the resulting disruption to the international supply chains airlines put in place pre-pandemic. The pandemic has really driven MRO providers to put more emphasis on leaner processes to ensure uninterrupted product flow, and most importantly, making sure they have the expertise in their organisation to deliver faster and more cost-effective solution to the airlines. This is what we’re focused on in our QAS business.”

As growing demand for domestic and regional air travel ramps back up, early passenger traffic is taking back cargo space previously used for moving parts; repair delays are now adding to the complexities airlines face in returning dormant aircraft to service. This is creating an opportunity for MRO providers such as QAS to grow their business off the back of a Shorter Supply Chain concept.

Quickstep acquired QAS as a complementary fit to their aerospace design and manufacturing operations based at Bankstown Airport in Sydney. While the pandemic was causing angst across most of the MRO network, it provided an opportunity for Quickstep to make an acquisition of a highly capable business at the bottom of a downturn that is now looking to rebound. In Quickstep’s hands, this world-class MRO capability can now reach beyond the Boeing-centric platform work that has historically flowed through their repair centre.

QAS is well-positioned to deliver as a Short Supply Chain MRO provider to Australian and regional airlines. Rapid evolution of the new QAS facility to establish a broader set of platform certifications is underway to maximise their reach across the airlines. With an emphasis on building collaborative partnerships with key airlines, allowing for more integrated planning between MRO provider and operator, QAS believe customers will see a mutual, value-based benefit from keeping as much MRO onshore as possible.

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