Establishing MRO capabilities for the Airbus A350 appears to have been less taxing for Air France-KLM's maintenance division than the build-up of its support programme for the Boeing 787.

When the 787 entered service, Air France Industries KLM Engineering & Maintenance – along with other MRO providers such as Lufthansa Technik and SR Technics parent Mubadala Aerospace – had to sign licence agreements with UTC Aerospace Systems to gain access to technical data, as the US manufacturer's Hamilton Sundstrand division supplies around 40% of the twinjet's components.

But no such contracts were "compulsory" for provision of component repair capabilities on the A350, says Robert Anton, senior vice-president for component services at AFI KLM E&M. This is partly due to a wider spread of equipment suppliers on the European long-haul aircraft, but also a result of its systems similarity with the A380, he says. Being able to offer component support services for the A350 "was not a challenge", he says.

Air France-KLM has been operating the A380 within its French operation since 2009, and has orders for the 787 and A350, which are scheduled for delivery from 2015 and 2018 respectively.

Fabrice Defrance, commercial senior vice-president at AFI KLM E&M, says that the A350's introduction is "rather an evolution than a revolution".

The group would need partnership agreements with "some" OEMs to support the A350, "if possible", says Anton. But he adds that the MRO provider will also be able to build on its own engineering capabilities for the aircraft.

AFI KLM E&M is bidding for component support contracts with several operators that have ordered the A350.

Source: Cirium Dashboard