Earlier this month, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) discussed the establishment of a working group related to suppliers in the aircraft and engine value chain. IATA’s senior vice president for operations, safety, and security noted that today's supply chain issues related to aircraft and aircraft parts resulted from a combination of several factors. Two of the largest contributors that have been discussed are the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine. Given the complexity of the aviation supply chain, additional factors contribute to the availability of aircraft and aircraft parts. Below, we explore additional key issues contributing to supply chain constraints in aviation.
1. Global Transportation: Manufacturers rely on transportation networks to move aircraft parts, components, and staff across the globe. Transportation challenges including customs delays, port congestion and other disruptions can affect the efficient delivery of goods and the impacts are often reflected throughout the value chain.
2. Regulations: The aviation industry is subject to strict regulations related to safety, security, and the environment. Compliance with these regulations can pose challenges in terms of the documentation required for certification and other approvals. Failing to precisely follow certification standards can lead to delays in operations and maintenance activities.
3. Labor Issues: Even if component parts are available for manufacture and delivery, processing of these parts requires skilled laborers familiar with the aviation industry. Layoffs due to COVID-19, as well as industry retirement, have affected the availability of a skilled workforce and subsequently, the availability of aircraft components and parts.
4. Sustainability: Through global and regional commitments, the aviation industry has taken steps to reduce its contribution to climate change. These measures address myriad environmental issues, including emissions, noise pollution, and waste. Manufacturers and distributors implementing news measures throughout their supply chain may face delays in production and distribution due new practices and the requisite collaboration with their stakeholders.
While not exhaustive, the supply chain issues above shed light on the complexities of meeting the demands of the aviation industry. Of course, each stakeholder in the aviation supply chain will face unique challenges, relating to factors such as their role in the supply chain (manufacturer vs. supplier), operational maturity, and geographic location.