CIT is one of the largest lessors of commercial aircraft, and there's a great deal that goes on behind the scenes to keep the CIT fleet in outstanding shape. The
Technical team, led by Julian Rouchy-Kelly, Chief Technical Officer, is charged with preserving the value of CIT aircraft and providing the best technical service to CIT Aerospace and its customers. This team of 35, including engineers with advanced degrees in different aerospace specialties, as well as Information Technology and Finance experts, travels the world in support of our fleet and our customers.
"CIT has a fleet of over 300 leased and financed aircraft, most of which are narrow-body aircraft manufactured by Airbus or Boeing," said Julian. "As we manage our fleet, the Aerospace technical team has four core responsibilities: negotiating leases as part of a deal team, overseeing major maintenance events, managing transitions between customers when aircraft are coming off-lease, and technical finance and forecasting. To execute on these four pillars, we have a network of experts and maintenance organizations around the world that provide engineering and maintenance services on our aircraft with our strict oversight."
Each of the four pillars is essential to the efficient and successful management of the CIT fleet:
Negotiating leases: Each aircraft lease negotiation deal team includes a member of Aerospace's technical, marketing, and legal groups. The technical deal team member is responsible for managing CIT's exposure to technical risk and for providing specific technical requirements that the client must adhere to throughout the lease and when the aircraft is returned to CIT.
Oversight of major maintenance events: An aircraft periodically requires heavy maintenance on the airframe, engine, auxiliary power unit and landing gear. In particular, engines are among the most complicated and expensive parts of the aircraft, so an engine overhaul is a significant technical and financial commitment. One engine overhaul would cover the cost of three aircraft transitions between airlines. These major maintenance events can take place at either lease termination or during the lease term. As such, there's considerable tracking and management required by the technical team to efficiently plan for these events.
Transitions between customers: When an aircraft comes off-lease and moves to another airline, the CIT technical team oversees the transition between airlines. This can include everything from pre-end-of-lease audits, to switching in-flight entertainment systems, updating aircraft specifications, acquiring new avionics that comply with the requirements of a different regulatory authority and making seat layout changes, such as from economy to business class. This process requires close coordination between the airline returning the aircraft and the airline receiving the aircraft, as well as both airlines' regulatory authorities, engineering and maintenance teams, and materials suppliers to ensure that the transition takes place in a timely manner and that the expectations of all parties are met.
Technical financing and forecasting: A commercial aircraft can be valued at up to hundreds of millions of dollars, so it's critical that the technical team has a firm understanding of the current value of the CIT fleet as the individual aircraft move through their lifecycles. Due to the significant financial investment in aircraft technical activities and the financial impact these events can have, it is important that accurate forecasting is provided.
"To execute on these pillars at the highest level in an ever-changing market, we continuously provide training to our technical team and maintain strong working relationships with vendors and suppliers, so we're fully aware of the latest technical developments," added Julian.
"In terms of trends in the aerospace industry, we're seeing a move toward larger aircraft being used on shorter trips. Regional airlines are moving from 70-seat to more than 100-seat narrow-body aircraft. Particularly in Asia, narrow-body operators are starting to put medium-wide-body aircraft on narrow-body routes to gain efficiency, and customers are starting to expect direct connections between more cities," said Julian. "We're also continuing to see incremental gains in fuel efficiency with new engines, which are highly valued by airlines as fuel is usually their single largest ongoing expense."
The Aerospace Technical team's focus on executing against the four pillars and staying ahead of the curve on industry trends has resulted in strong feedback from customers and helped grow decades-long relationships with airlines.
"I consistently challenge our team to ensure that CIT is among the highest-rated aircraft lessors in customer surveys of the technical teams," said Julian. "I think our strengths lie in our ability to meet customer needs, mitigate technical costs during lease contract negotiations, maintain the value of our aircraft, execute timely and cost effective aircraft transitions, and support our customers in challenging situations."
"We're always mindful that we have a reputation in the market to preserve, and we're determined to remain the best in the business by continuing to push to improve."