Superior Air Parts: Uptick in Sales Fuels Recovery

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Superior Air Parts is steadily gaining back market share and revenue it lost leading up to its 2009 bankruptcy, SAP's CEO Tim Archer said on Monday. But that doesn't necessarily mean that Archer sees a broader recovery in the aviation economy. At a press conference at AirVenture on Monday, Archer said Superior's strong growth during the past year is a more a reflection of its rebuilding following its purchase by the Chinese-based Superior Aviation in 2010.

Archer said Superior's bankruptcy confronted it with three problems: staffing, loss of proven vendors and customers abandoning the business because the company was unable to ship parts on time, if at all. But thanks to investment from the Chinese parent company, Archer says Superior has been able to attract the key talent it needs to rebuild the business and, interestingly, attract more domestic vendors while dropping foreign ones. He said the Superior Aviation investment has resulted, among other things, in the retaining of four domestic vendors that represent 20 percent of the company's business.

Before the 2009 bankruptcy, Archer said, Superior's business was mainly driven by PMA parts volume, but its Vantage experimental engine program was a growth product. As the company rebuilds, the PMA and engine programs each represent about the same revenue values, although he expects the PMA business to continue to grow. The inventory of parts that SAP can ship on demand has continued to expand to nearly 90 percent of the original catalog. Archer said SAP's expansion in China involves mainly training technicians in Vantage engine production and assembly to serve Asian markets. The Vantage engine, which is an evolution of the Lycoming O-360 and IO-360 models, was certified by Superior for OEM use. Superior sees a strong market for it in Asian markets.