Supply chain issues are plaguing most maintenance repair organizations in the aviation industry right now. One of the main issues in the aircraft engine industry is a lack of new cylinders from all manufacturers — specifically for Lycoming engines. Depending on the manufacturer, there may not be cylinders available for up to 9-12 months.
If you own a piston engine, you’re fortunate in that you can overhaul cylinders. All engine shops have the capability and approvals to do this (if they research properly), and AAE has been doing this for years. We have the approved source material that allows for overhauling/oversizing Lycoming cylinders.
We want to share with you what we see are the causes, effects and solutions to these shortages.
Causes: COVID-19 and shortages of people and supplies
Labour shortages are affecting many industries, and ours is no exception. One CBC story notes: “According to Statistics Canada’s latest job vacancy data, the labour shortage is widespread across the country in several different sectors of the economy — despite a national unemployment rate above seven per cent. The inability to find enough workers is hampering the post-pandemic economic recovery.”
Supply chain issues from the labour shortages, as well as closed cargo ports and limited shipping capacity, are also affecting many industries around the world.
Lycoming, Continental Motors and Superior Air Parts have been affected by the repercussions of COVID-19 because:
- Lycoming is no longer outsourcing cylinder manufacturing – it’s now in-house
- Lycoming has had some issues with their process, resulting in further backorders
The effects of the shortages range from backorders to higher prices.
All types of cylinders are backordered with unknown lead times and delivery dates. Some Lycoming cylinder lead times are July–December, 2022. Add to this the fact that all vendors are affected by these worldwide issues, and as they receive limited stock, they fill the oldest backorders (some are over a year old). Manufacturers, meanwhile, are focusing on common cylinder types, while rare unique assemblies are less of a priority.
With the pandemic driving supply and demand, as well as product shortages, travel restrictions and the aforementioned labour shortages, quoted prices have increased an average of 25% since January 2021, with many vendors anticipating higher prices into 2022.
Around the world there are delays in engine production and engine overhauls, while demand continues to rise.
We’ve put together some tips on how we can work together to address these issues. By planning ahead, overhauling when possible, and working together, we are finding solutions.
- If you have a requirement for a factory engine or field overhaul coming soon, plan ahead. Some factory engine lead times are 16-20 weeks.
- If you require new cylinders (for a top overhaul or for your field overhaul), you may wish to order now and patiently wait for them to be shipped.
- For overhauled cylinder assemblies, all manufacturers have a process for cylinder overhaul:
- The existing cylinder assembly is disassembled and thoroughly inspected.
- The barrels are measured, corrosion and wear patterns are analyzed, and the viability is determined.
- Guides are changed, barrels and guides are honed, seats are ground and new valves are installed
- New pistons, rings and pins are provided
Did you know?
- The majority of first-run factory cylinders (~2000 TIS) are overhaulable
- Many assemblies can be overhauled and kept at service limit (no oversize), allowing for future repair or overhaul to P010 limit
- We have access to certified documentation allowing cylinder barrel oversize
- We install new OEM and PMA (where allowed) parts for best performance and cost competitiveness
- The majority of cylinder piece parts are available; backordered items are usually no more than 30 days delivery (exceptions are unique items like TSIO360 pistons)
We have a highly successful cylinder overhaul program at Alberta Aero Engine, and we’re working hard to ensure we can meet our customers’ needs and address these issues. Please contact us if you have any questions.