Tuesday, 29 Sep 2020

ePlane taps AI to match aerospace sellers with buyers

Aircraft parts and repair marketplace ePlane today announced that it has raised $9 million, the bulk of which it expects to spend on international expansion. Assuming all goes well, ePlane will further develop its aerospace industry sourcing and business intelligence market, which matches the over 4,000 companies (including Bombardier, JetBlue, Air France, and Air Arabia) on its platform with more than 6,000 distributors, OEMs, brokers, and other vetted sellers.

ePlane taps AI to pair buyers with sellers based on needs, available inventory, past transactions, and required timeframe, and to automatically send requests for quotes (RFQs) to the appropriate third-party service providers. Its marketplace facilitates the loaning and exchanging of parts, components, chemicals, oils, and repair services, and it digitizes the procurement process by syncing enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems to ensure that inventories remain up to date.

Buyers who opt to conduct searches manually can find parts using ePlane’s smart filters. They’re able to browse page-by-page or upload a bulk list and simultaneously search by condition, location, tags, pricing, and more. All parts are listed by their serial number to prevent duplicate listings from appearing, and each part comes with a detailed description and a photo, as well as all relevant certificates, vendor notes, and other forms of documentation.

ePlane’s comparison tool lets members view the items’ details side-by-side. (The average part runs $12,000, according to CEO Gideon Shmuel, but some engines listed for sale on the marketplace cost in excess of $2 million.) Once they’ve made a purchasing decision, they can chat live with the seller and transact via a wire transfer, credit card, or ACH in adherence to pre-existing agreements.

ePlane is far from the only aerospace ecommerce company on the market. Others include Monroe Aerospace, Falcon Jet, StandardAero, Turbo Resources, Locatory.com, PartPilot, Honeywell Aerospace’s GoDirect Trade, Jet Parts Engineering, Boeing’s MyBoeingFleet.com, and Aviall.com, to name a few.

But Shmuel says that Cyprus-based ePlane, which has just over 40 employees, already receives over $50 million in monthly service and parts demand and is processing requests for quotes with a combined value of about $500 million a year. ePlane doesn’t charge any fees to buyers or sellers yet, but in the future, it plans to introduce additional services — potentially logistics, warehousing and fulfillment services, and opportunities for suppliers to advertise their products — that will carry fees.

Marubeni Corporation led this latest funding round, with participation from current investors.

Of course, it remains to be seen how severely the COVID-19 pandemic will impact the broader aviation business. It’s anticipated that the loss in airline revenue could be as high as $29.3 billion, with a potential 13% dip in passenger demand and a $27.8 billion revenue loss in 2020 for carriers in the Asia-Pacific region, according to a report published by the International Air Transport Association.

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