The global aviation actuation system market in China, Russia, and North America has been witnessing rapid growth over the past decade. Increase in demand for aircraft in this region fuels growth in the aviation sector. The Middle East is one of the regions where passenger traffic is expected to grow over the next 10 years. It is becoming one of the world’s busiest airline market, given the world-class infrastructure in this region.
Increasing fuel prices is a major driving factor for aircraft manufacturers to come out with more electric aircraft (MEA) and fuel-efficient concepts and plane designs. As a result, primary functions of aircraft are being powered by electrical systems, instead of the conventional pneumatic and hydraulic system. Hence, the aircraft will ensure reduction in fuel burnt, higher reliability, reduction in maintenance cost, and more dispatch availability. The increase in aircraft orders and more manufacturers entering the industry also act as market drivers. Several R&D programs are currently in progress that aims at saving fuel and enhancing operational efficiency in the aircraft.
Passenger traffic is expected to grow at a rate of 5% annually for another 20 years. In order to sustain the growing demand of passengers, aviation capacity has to increase, as a result of which more aircraft are required to cater to the demand. This in turn will help the aviation actuation system market to grow.
The congestion at airports around the world is expected to increase over the next 10 years. Several permutations are in the pipeline, all aimed at reducing crowding at airports. This will help the actuator market increase proportionally.
Actuators are designed to fit virtually into any application with superior performance, quality, and precision. Currently, there are several players in the actuator system market. It is gradually growing, with constant upgradation. There is ample opportunity for advanced actuation systems to curb aircraft costs. Moving to electric systems further helps in reducing weight of the aircraft and therefore, increasing its fuel economy. The use of electro-mechanical and electro-hydraulic actuators is thus increasing.
Powered flight controls have actuators that provide significant power augmentation to the pilot to have better control over the systems. The flight control designer is left with the challenging task of making the cost-to-weight trade-off. These systems are made using composite materials, making them lightweight and high in strength. The power-by-wire technology uses actuators to improve performance of the aircraft.
The pneumatic actuation systems will phase out gradually, as it is not compressible and difficult to use at high altitude, given the extreme physical forces that acting on an aircraft when it is in flight.
The narrow body actuator market is expected to increase, as the emerging markets are driving demand for narrow body aircraft. Air Canada will purchase 61 of the U.S. manufacturer Boeing’s newest narrow body aircraft over the next decade, under a deal with worth $6.5 billion. The airline further announced that it could add 109 more Boeing 737 MAX to its existing fleet. Currently, Airbus delivers 42 of its A320 aircraft annually, which is expected to increase to 47 by 2019. COMAC 919 is expected to enter the market by 2015. The Embraer series will see an increase in production from 2017.
Multiple sizes are available in the wide body segment, allowing airlines to choose the right size of aircraft for a particular network. Airlines are opting for upgraded models – those who have placed orders for the Boeing 737-700 prefer the 737-800 instead. The Dreamliner is expected to see a spike in numbers delivered by 2019. It is estimated to sell 12 aircraft monthly by 2019. Ten A330s are expected to be sold per month by 2018.
UTC Aerospace systems and Moog are major suppliers of actuators in the narrow body aircraft segment. UTC enjoys a major market share in the actuator system market. This is primarily because UTC Aerospace Systems has been picked by Boeing to manufacture landing gear its new Boeing 737 MAX. It also provides landing gear for the other Boeing models, which include the 737, 747, 767, and 777. Moog has the second largest share in the actuators market, and has bagged contracts for flight control of the Embraer series. It also supplies landing gear for King Air and KC.
In recent years, the concept of MEA has pushed development of electrical actuation systems to substitute hydraulic actuators in a broad range of applications including flight control and landing gear. Airlines across the globe are looking for efficient aircraft that can help them spike up their net profit.