A year after its launch, online maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) services marketplace MROinsider is gaining traction in the business aviation community. The platform enables aircraft owners and operators to post RFQs—requests for (price) quotes—free of charge for maintenance work, while subscribing repair stations can bid on any applicable uploaded request.
The concept and the appeal to MRO consumers and providers is simple, said Andy Nixon, co-founder and v-p of sales. “One click, one upload, provides MRO options an operator or owner never knew existed, while shops get exposure to customers they didn’t know needed their services.”
Any owner or operator can open a free account and register single or multiple aircraft with all information and documentation required for accurate workscope assessment and bidding. MRO facilities pay a flat monthly fee for their listings, which include a profile of the company, the aircraft they support and their services. Owners and operators use the site’s RFQ forms to specify required work, time frame, geographical area, and other requirements. Any subscriber within the parameters will receive the RFQ and can bid on the job. The customer can then compare the quotes and repair stations side-by-side, and message bidders privately.
The current list of subscribers covers more than 50 aircraft and helicopter Part 145 repair stations representing more than 100 locations and three dozen avionics and accessories shops. An AOG search locator function offers solutions for operators needing immediate assistance.
The genesis for MROinsider, based in Tecumseh, Michigan, came after Andy’s wife, Lindsay, company president and co-founder, learned no online MRO services platform existed. “It blew my mind that people were spending the dollar amounts they are and didn’t have any way to find [a maintenance provider]; that everything is still done via Rolodex,” she said.
In the usual maintenance RFQ process, as Andy explained, “Guys would call four or five shops, ask if they can get the plane in, what the price is, things like that” and make their shop decision. Lindsay recalled thinking, “This needs to be way more efficient.” Customers on both sides of the transactions seem to agree.
Exposure for Smaller Shops
“We’re a smaller MRO, but we’re growing, and right now I’m the entire sales force,” said Jamie Smith, v-p of sales at two-year-old JetRight at Nashville International Airport (BNA), a Bombardier Authorized Service Facility that works on aircraft including Learjets, Challengers, and Citations. “I’ve gotten quote requests from Seattle, Washington, and California, and frankly, that’s somewhere I can’t go right now,” Smith said. “MROinsider just extends my range. It’s a lot cheaper to pay a subscription than it is for me to travel.”
For operators, the service expands MRO options and provides a check and balance on customary vendors. “It’s really easy to get tied down to the mainstays, the go-tos,” said Sean Wright, v-p of maintenance operations at Silver Air, a California-based operator with 24 aircraft under management. The company has a GV based in Florida that “typically would be brought back to California for maintenance,” Wright said. Instead, he put an RFQ on the site and found a Florida shop and gave them the job. “It saved us a ton in repositioning costs,” he said. Going forward, “If we can get a competitive quote from a place where the aircraft isn’t, we can try to [schedule a] charter to that location,” Wright said. “It’s worth giving a new organization a shot.”
TMx Aero, a Part 145 repair station in Fort Pierce, Florida, transitioning from regional airline to business aviation MRO, said the platform “really gives us the exposure and the contacts to say, ‘We’re here and these are the capabilities, and we’re near the area where your airplane is,’” Travis Stein, CEO at TMx said. His facility will perform the maintenance on Silver Air’s GV.
About 97 percent of the RFQs on MROinsider are for work on aircraft ranging from single-engine turboprops to BBJs. For service providers, regular subscriptions are $599 per month, an enhanced, featured profile page is $699 per month, and $299 per month for companies with more limited services, such as prop or landing gear overhaul shops.
In addition to adding to the number of vendors, the Nixons plan to offer additional services through the platform. MROinsider is developing in concert with Wyvern an MRO facility approval “the first non-FAA Part 145 audit system,” said Andrew. Facilities will pay for the audits, as operators do now for Wyvern and Argus ratings.
Lindsay said some MROs are resistant to the site’s concept, reluctant to support a platform, in their words, “for my customers to get quotes from other facilities.” But, she added, “that’s narrow-minded thinking” counter to “the way every other industry now operates.”