Friday, April 16, 2010

Of Things To Come ... Aviation in MENA

I recently attended the 16th Middle East Airline Maintenance & Engineering Conference at Abu Dhabi organized by UBM Aviation. I have attended several of these conferences and even co-chaired one. However, this one was one of the most interesting I have attended. It came at a time, the aviation industry in the region and globally is ready to undergo changes.

Several topics were discussed but the most interesting (for me at least) were

MRO Hubs in the region and the relationship with OEMs. In the last few years OEMs have become more aggressive in setting up MROs in order to generate more revenues, and in the process competed against their own customers. The concept of a HUB MRO, a one stop shop, only works if you are a big airline or one with a big aircraft order, so you can browbeat the OEMs. Abu Dhabi Aircraft Technologies (ADAT formerly GAMCO) is one such entity. It has Mubadala and Etihad backing it up and making OEMs bring in technology into the UAE. The other MROin the region are basically into airframe work with some engine works or components thrown in. So it seems MENA will get its HUB MRO.

EU ETS (Emission Trading System) was another subject which is causing controversy globally. In theory ETS is a great idea if it was not that the money collected will probably never be invested in aviation or climate change research. Of course the other problem is that the EU wants to collect on all emissions generated outside the EU just because the flight originates, ends or overflies the EU. This is causing problems for the airlines who in theory will pay several time for emissions by virtue of overflying several countries or territories. Ideally, emissions generated by a flight should be accounted for once.

Other subjects of interest were bio-fuel and greener engine technology. Well Bio-fuels are here to stay. Companies are working on bio-fuels that do not require edible products as the source. It is no good to starve in order to be greener, but are looking at other sources of vegetation or algae. Greener engine technologies are those that relate to the reduction of NOx and Carbon. It deals with design of engine parts that improve fuel burn and reduce engine weight. Such an innovation is P&W Geared Turbofan (GTF) which allows the Low Pressure System and the High Pressure System to rotate each at its optimum speed, thus increasing efficiency and fuel burn and reducing noise and emissions.

Last but not least is the Changing Regulatory Requirements, with the introduction of SMS and all the associated cultural changes that come with it (risk management, reporting regimes, just culture and so on). One topic of discussion was how to deal with regulatory authorities. The relationship between the regulators and the airlines and support activities should be a true partnership. I realize the partnership label is a great buzz word, but it needs to be changed into a reality. The relationship should be mutually supportive so it becomes a true win win system.

Thanks again to UBM Aviation for providing a venue for networking and sharing ideas about the industry.


  1. Hi Oussama, thank you very much for your kind remarks. I am pleased that our research into innovative maintenance and engineering topics relevant for the region paid off. I look forward to seeing you again next year. Hayley McLinden, Conference Programme Editor, UBM Aviation

  2. Hayley, you guys did an awesome job, I enjoyed every moment. Kudos



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