Global Supply Chain Issues Reach Aviation

Excerpts from article originally published in Twin Commander Flight Levels, Fall 2021 issue. Randy Morelock, Eagle Creek VP of Maintenance, provides insight on the supply chain issues in aviation.

Semiconductor (chip) shortages have impacted everything from rental cars to cell phones, and now aviation is feeling the impacts.

In addition to a lack of toilet paper at Costco, the coronavirus pandemic also impacted the tech industry, most notably with semiconductors. Factories around the world were forced to scale back production to keep workers safe, but demand has only continued to increase. The result is a predictable mix of higher prices and a shortage of supply. Although much of the media coverage has focused on automakers and their production slowdowns, a shortage of semiconductors and other goods is impacting aviation this year as well.

Eagle Creek Aviation’s VP of Maintenance Randy Morelock said tires are a common pain point. But, he added, “It’s not that you can’t get a tire, it just takes longer.” Eagle Creek is trying to be strategic for their customers and stock common items, such as tires and batteries. He mentioned keeping more sets on the shelves to ensure customers aren’t stuck without.

Batteries are also an issue. Whereas previously any of the shops could pick up the phone and get a battery in the next day, now it could be two to four weeks.

Electronics manufacturers are clearly facing a supply shortage, Morelock said labor shortages have hurt their suppliers as well. A vendor couldn’t make an appointment to borescope an engine because they didn’t have the staff, and vendors who produce items for panels are taking a week longer because they are having COVID staffing issues.

The shops are trying to be creative by using new vendors or working other contacts, but it takes time and patience. “It’s not dire, but it’s taking more work and more time to find the items,” Morelock said.

Some experts have said the semiconductor shortage won’t let up until at least 2023, while other items should come back into stock much sooner. At least, that’s what the shops are hoping.

Read the full article at Flight Levels Online.

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