An Environmental Movement: AMETEK MRO Muirhead Avionics’ Approach to Sustainability

April 19, 2022

An Environmental Movement: AMETEK MRO Muirhead Avionics’ Approach to Sustainability

Headshot of Kushilka Zaharia  By Kushilka Zaharia, Head of MRO Operations at AMETEK MRO

Over the past few years, the pandemic has shone a spotlight on aviation. Our dependence on air travel was restricted as governments across the world closed their borders in order to control the spread of Covid-19, seeing flight volumes plummet by 66%. As 2020 evolved into a year of “stay at home,” household purchases took place online more than ever, causing a rise in the cargo market. Whilst cargo travel increased, commercial air travel declined and data on passenger air travel continued to be posted on news outlets keeping us up to date on the latest list of travel restrictions. This fundamental change in air travel prompted a wave of before and after photos demonstrating the visible decrease in air pollution during the pandemic. This environmental difference sparked a worldwide push for sustainability in the transportation industry, particularly aviation.

By definition, Sustainability refers to the ability of something to maintain or sustain itself over time. While airlines and Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) are greatly focused on their biggest challenge ahead – reducing emissions – there are still many opportunities for aviation to move towards more sustainable practices. As a third-party aircraft maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) provider, AMETEK MRO, a business of AMETEK Inc., has always operated using the business model of repair versus replace. As an MRO provider, the core of our business is taking something that would have otherwise been considered broken/waste and then repairing it in accordance with the strictest CAA/FAA/EASA requirements, in line with Part-145 repair shop credentials. The ethos of MRO is already a sustainable practice in the aviation industry, but there’s even more that goes on behind the scenes to elevate our contribution to sustainability and help our customers meet their environmental goals.

BCG reported that commercial aviation accounted for about 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions in 2019, but projections suggest that will rise to as much as 20% by 2050 without major intervention. Following the global climate summit COP26 the International Aviation Climate Ambition Coalition was formed with an aim for the aviation industry to achieve net zero global CO2 emissions by 2050. There are many factors that can contribute to this ambitious goal, such as greater fleet efficiency, the use of electrically powered aircraft, and the use of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). However, within the MRO sector, we have the ability to give an old aircraft a new lease of life by utilizing used serviceable material (USM) which results in not only extending the lifespan of airplanes, but the useful life of their parts as well.

Bar Graph for Aviation Emissions in 2019 and 2050

Source: Statista

The use of USM is an opportunity for aircraft components to be saved from landfill by repairing or overhauling the component and then re-tagging it with a fresh airworthiness certificate. If a piece of equipment cannot be reused, repaired or resold, then the material may be recycled or sent for proper waste disposal as a last resort. At Muirhead Avionics – a brand of AMETEK MRO – we aim to save and repurpose USM as much as we can. Creating the right inventory balance is both a science and an art. There is a constant juggle between keeping enough supplies available for repairs and maximizing our inventory to utilize spares before it’s too late, for example for consumable parts with an expiration date. In order to ensure that this happens, the workshop leadership team provide ongoing education to the technicians and engineers about incorporating sustainable, best practices to their MRO work. In the rare case that a component is no longer suitable to use, it still won’t go waste – we use the part as a training opportunity. Our staff, particularly new starters are one group of people that benefit from using these aircraft parts as educational materials, as well as school students and work experience placements who are part of our Science Technology Engineering & Maths (STEM) training program.

Collection of Airborne radar systems

AMETEK MRO Muirhead Avionics has repair capability for airborne radar systems on
applications such as weather radar, search and rescue radar and surveillance radar systems

Another effort to instil the message of sustainability within our business is assessing the carbon footprint of our office buildings. At the Muirhead Avionics facility based near Heathrow, we have implemented motion-activated LED lighting across the entire 16,000 square foot office environment. This energy saving initiative is has a double benefit, as the LED lighting is only illuminated when the sensors detect movement in the area, meaning no more empty meeting rooms with lights turned on!

Our staff also recognise the importance of creating a sustainable future, with an employee prompted initiative of car sharing for people travelling to the office from the same area. Furthermore, a push for all company cars to be hybrid or electric is being rolled out across the organization. Over time, these initiatives will drive our journey to a greener future and help instil sustainable principles throughout our company culture.

 AMETEK MRO Muirhead Avionics site at Heathrow, UK

AMETEK MRO Muirhead Avionics site at Heathrow, UK

Decarbonizing the aviation industry will be a huge feat to achieve. However, as awareness grows about the environmental impact of air travel, and as consumer preferences and behaviours shift, it is our responsibility to ensure that the part that we play within the aviation industry makes a positive contribution to achieving the net zero global CO2 emission target by 2050. We’re prepared to take on new capabilities as components evolve to support the next generation of aircraft and look forward to supporting the future of air travel using electric and other alternative fuels. No matter the course ahead, AMETEK MRO is excited to be your partner in this sustainability journey. In all walks of life, small steps towards sustainability will add up to big steps to an environmentally friendly future for everyone.

For more information on AMETEK’s sustainability initiatives, read the  AMETEK Sustainability Report 2021

Share with your colleagues or friends: