Meeting the logistics challenge

How Leonardo Helicopters is tackling the industry-wide issue of materials and spares availability.

Aviation supply chains worldwide remain under significant stress, with the availability of materials and spares presenting an ongoing challenge. Leonardo Helicopters is no exception, and recognising the crucial importance of this issue to our customers and operators, we are taking wide-ranging action to improve spares availability.

The pressure on supply chains

From a logistics standpoint, many factors have combined to cause a negative impact on supply chain performance since 2022. 
Like many OEMs, Leonardo Helicopters has seen rapid increases in customer demand due to higher than anticipated flight hours as the post-Covid recovery continues. But the issues stretch well beyond the pandemic, as the unstable geopolitical situation has had wide-ranging implications for all players in the aerospace and defence sectors. These include shortages of raw materials and electronic subcomponents causing substantially longer lead times, increased shipping timescales, and workforce challenges, particularly the lack of access to skilled labour across the supply chain.
So, what is Leonardo Helicopters doing to improve spares availability for customers and operators? Riccardo Martore comments: “We have been working since the early part of 2022 on a series of initiatives designed to mitigate the problem of spares shortages. For example, we’ve increased our planning horizon to lead time plus 12 months giving suppliers an extended and firm order intake horizon, to grant priorities for our industry.
“We have increased stock availability for the items identified as most critical to the global fleet, as well as implementing second source manufacturing for certain high-rotation components alongside higher stocks of raw materials to ensure more sustainable production.
“Furthermore, we have invested more in digital tools that help to identify trends as enabler to enhance material planning globally.”

Current status on material services

All our material requirements for 2024 and 2025 are now in place, with internal production requests launched and firm orders with suppliers confirmed. Stock availability for critical items is improving and, as a first result, we are now able to reduce material backlog orders to pre-pandemic levels in the short term, absorbing on top the increased demand.
We have also improved our R&O performance, increasing throughput and implementing a series of actions, including a more structured recall of unserviceable parts policy to secure repair & overhaul supply chain volumes and adding local repair capabilities worldwide to shorten turnaround time and improve efficiency.
Martore adds: “We are very aware of the impact that a lack of spares availability has for our customers and operators. Although we have invested resources since the earliest stage of the pandemic to try to mitigate these issues, results have not immediately been apparent to the customer and operator community. The recovery has now started and we have seen improvements in parts availability during the final quarter of 2023 compared with previous months. We will continue these efforts and expect to consolidate the return to normality during 2024.”


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