LHT becomes Hamilton Sundstrand partner for 787

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Lufthansa Technik (LHT) has become a partner in Hamilton Sundstrand's support network for Boeing 787 components.

The German maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) provider inked a long-term co-operation agreement with the US manufacturer, which produces approximately 42% of the components of the new twinjet.

LHT emphasised that, while it becomes an official member in Hamilton Sundstrand's supplier network, it would "continue its successful path of developing and applying sophisticated repairs for the 787, as [it had done] for other aircraft in the past".

The two companies have already been co-operating for on-site support and repair developments for components of other aircraft.

LHT, like other third-party maintenance providers, has emphasised the importance for manufacturer-independent MRO companies in the aftermarket as an alternative to the MRO programmes of original equipment manufacturers.

However, developing new repair capabilities has become increasingly difficult for a number of reasons. Large capital investments are required to build up repair capabilities for the sophisticated technology on the latest aircraft generation, such as the 787 and Airbus A380.

But profit margins within the MRO industry - and thus the amount of available capital for investment - have become smaller due to overcapacity and increasingly aggressive competition in the aftermarket. At the same time, OEMs are protecting their intellectual property more carefully than in the past, leaving independent maintenance providers with less access to maintenance instructions and relevant technical data to develop repair capabilities.

Hamilton Sundstrand signed a similar partnership agreement with Mubadala Aerospace in June, covering 787 component repair at the latter's MRO subsidiaries, Abu Dhabi Aircraft Technologies and Zurich-based SR Technics.

Burkhard Andrich, LHT's senior vice-president for aircraft component services, said that the agreement with Hamilton Sundstrand was a "major milestone for our roadmap" to become "one of the leading MRO providers" for the 787.

The manufacturer's vice president and general manager for customer services, Matthew Bromberg, stated that the relationship with LHT provided 787 operators with "additional maintenance options".

Last week, LHT revealed Japan Airlines as its first MRO customer for the 787. JAL contracted the maintenance company to support components on the new type over the next 10 years.

In July, JAL also inked a 10-year component MRO agreement directly with Hamilton Sundstrand. The two contracts are not related, however, as they cover different equipment.

Hamilton Sundstrand subsidiary supplies nine major systems for the 787, comprising almost 600 components and subsystems. This includes the electric starter motors and electricity generators for the engines, APS 5000 auxiliary power unit (APU), electric power distribution system, cabin air control and pressurization system, and nitrogen generating equipment for the fuel tank inerting system.