GE Engine Services, which provides maintenance and support services for aircraft engine operators around the world, has signed a multi-million dollar agreement with enterprise software vendor IFS that “will transform our future,” according to IFS UK managing director Alastair Sorbie. GE is to roll out IFS’ aviation business and manufacturing management software (ERP) across its 60-plus sites world-wide – and has agreed to market IFS software throughout the commercial aviation maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) industry. The initial software license, valued at $12 million, covers 4,500 users with an option for a further 4,500. But that’s the tip of the iceberg. GE, which through GE Leasing owns most of the civil aircraft engines in the industry, will now be pushing IFS to the whole of commercial aviation MRO sector – a market that exceeds US$1billion annually. It puts IFS in an outstanding position across global aerospace. Last year IFS concluded a deal with BAe Systems to sell its solutions throughout its sector. Now, with BAe covering all of military aerospace, and GE the exclusive distributor for commercial airlines and MRO facilities (BAe having been compensated for its loss there), IFS is in what can only be described as a dominant position. “It raises our profile across the whole of the market,” said a jubilant Sorbie. “GE is a massive organisation. It’s transformed our future. They [GE] evaluated 15 players: if we had lost we would have been out of that market altogether. We won.” George Oliver, vice president and general manager of GE, confirmed that the evaluation had been extensive, and said: “GE Engine Services concluded that IFS is the clear leader in providing information software systems to global organisations.” IFS aviation software integrates the spread of aircraft operations, from engineering, to planning, maintenance operations, inventory, purchasing, technical records and finance. “By adopting IFS software throughout our internal MRO facilities as part of our Digitization initiative,” said Oliver, “we expect to dramatically improve customer service and efficiency. Our new alliance with IFS will allow us to bring these efficiencies to the rapidly growing commercial aviation MRO industry.” IFS President and CEO, Bengt Nilsson, said, “There is a growing need in the aviation industry to better manage increasingly complex maintenance information to improve performance and profitability. “As the world’s leading aviation maintenance provider, GE is best positioned to understand the special requirements of commercial airline operations and MRO providers. By combining GE’s expertise with our component-based software … we’ve created a powerful team.”