By Ken Faire
VP of Sales-Marketing
Editor’s Note: Vintage Piper replacement tires are available, but you may wind up with a different brand.
We all have had some hard times in this past year in this pandemic: scurrying to find common household items like Lysol, 409, and even toilet paper.
Whether these were caused by panic buying by the public in this pandemic or as a direct result of workforce shortages on production lines, the shortages were, at least, temporary and the supply chain caught up quite quickly with most of these commodities.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the of our everyday LSA, glider, and general aviation components, including tires. The supply chain has not yet caught up with demand in general aviation, and we may not see back to normal stocking levels until late summer 2021.
And these dilemmas include one of our key components: tires. Looking back at the cause and effect of this dilemma, we use the airline tire supply chain model as an example guide to the current GA tires supply issues.
Tire Production Moved to Growth Areas
Airlines, both major and regional, were crippled by COVID starting in the 2nd Quarter of 2020, which pushed other methods of transportation to support supply of consumer goods. Many manufacturers moved the excess/95%+ capacity of the airlines/aviation tires to other needed areas including truck tires, whose growth in the pandemic required more immediate supply than pre-COVID (‘normal”) times.
As aviation capacity/operations weaned, the domino effect started, and workers and manufacturing equipment were shifted to focus support on other product modes. This ‘restarting and retraining’ of the workforce, along with the shift to getting previously focused aviation production equipment back in place, has left a void in the aviation tire supply chain for some suppliers. In effect, it was much easier and quicker to downsize and move capacity elsewhere than it has been to restart that same production capacity for aviation products.
What impact do these shortages have on us?
The Bad News: it is likely product you want and have used regularly for years is now currently not in stock.
The Good News: There are four general aviation tire manufacturers, with 10 product lines, for all the aircraft that we fly. So, while you may not be able to get your chosen brand now, there are excellent alternatives that will fit your application.
Your tire supplier can suggest alternatives to keep your aircraft flying in these uncertain times. We are here to help you decide which product will work the best with you and your aircraft.