The global aviation industry continues to grow rapidly, yet changing market trends, emerging technologies, and global economic indicators all influence decisions on how to best meet future needs.

Port San Antonio is the presenting sponsor for the 2017 Aero-Engines Americas Conference, Analyzing the Shifting Dynamics of the Engine MRO Industry. Remarks begin at 9 a.m. on Feb. 2 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel. Participants may register here.

This all-day program will host more than 200 global airline operators and leading industry experts from around the world. Speakers will discuss the regional and global markets for aircraft engine maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) services, and related technical innovations.

The detailed agenda is available here.

Port San Antonio partnered with the New York-based publication Aviation Week to bring the Aero-Engines Americas 2017 conference to San Antonio.

Jim Perschbach is Executive Vice President of Business Development at Port San Antonio.
Executive Vice President of Business Development at Port San Antonio Jim Perschbach Credit: Courtesy / Port San Antonio

Keynote speaker Jim Perschbach, executive vice president of business development at Port SA, will provide an overview of San Antonio’s aviation legacy, the aerospace work taking place in the region today, and the Port’s strategic plans for future development. Perschbach will address San Antonio’s important growth plans in support of global aviation and opportunities for collaboration between the aerospace industry and other advanced technology sectors in the region, particularly cybersecurity.

“There are two big ways we’ll do this,” Perschbach told the Rivard Report. “The Port is a one-stop-shop for companies with airplanes, because we have the capabilities here to do everything from avionics to painting, from engine maintenance to IT support and cyber security of aviation data links.

“That’s a vital differentiating factor for aviation companies, because for airlines, it’s important to get planes back to flying as quickly as possible, rather than [staying] grounded by delays.”

The second way Port San Antonio will continue to grow as a center of excellence is by implementing more innovative and advanced technology into aviation and manufacturing industry practices.

For example, in a Boeing 787, 50% of the plane’s cost is spent on navigation, guidance, and control systems, with half of that dedicated to avionic software. The latest advances in aviation are in system software, data handling, aircraft-to-aircraft communication, and aerospace engineering and manufacturing.

“Predictive maintenance [for airplanes] is going to require machine learning and good use of data, as it takes the paper [-based record keeping] out of the system,” Perschbach explained. “Predictive analytics can help drive predictive avionic maintenance, so companies are not overspending on replacing plane parts simply because paper records show after so many hours flown [that] it’s time to replace all the parts whether that’s needed or not.”

The Port’s core competencies in information technology and cyber security are natural complements to the growing trend of incorporating machine learning into aviation predictive maintenance.

Companies in San Antonio are already innovating MRO operations, such as Elevate Systems, which reverse-engineers and 3D-prints out-of-production airplane parts for the Department of Defense, and the Port-based Indo-MIN, which manufactures precision metal-injected plane parts.

The conference is an important opportunity for San Antonio’s aviation industry to share its vision with a global audience. The all-day event will help highlight the importance of Kelly Air Force Base and its redevelopment into a 1,900-acre complex that provides a strategic platform for companies such as Boeing, StandardAero, Lockheed Martin, and others. Those firms not only support military aviation needs, they increasingly meet the needs of the commercial aircraft industry as well.

“The Port’s Project Tech concept is that it will be a fusion center, a hub where our knowledge-based industry can interact with the aerospace and advanced manufacturing industries here,” Perschbach stressed. “If we can match up our mature industries in what we do so well in San Antonio, like MRO, with technology and innovation, we can provide a higher value product and attract new opportunities.”

The Aero-Engines Americas conference will provide the Port and San Antonio’s other aerospace leaders the opportunity to highlight the work already being done in the region as well as efforts to grow San Antonio into a global center of aerospace support and innovation.

Iris Gonzalez

Iris Gonzalez writes about technology, life science, and veteran affairs. She won the Texas Veterans Commission Media Excellence Awards for her 2016 Veterans Day story "Life as a Veteran: What Veterans...