The virtually maintenance-free nature of the composite fuselage of Boeing's 787 means it will not require any heavy maintenance until well after 10 years in service.

Mike Bair, 787 programme manager, says the aircraft "won't see a hangar for the first 12 years of its life" if, as expected, airlines follow continuous maintenance programmes, servicing the aircraft on an on-going basis rather than doing all the work at the same time.

The manufacturer is offering its most aggressive maintenance guarantees ever on the 787 because of the extensive use of composite materials.

"The reference point is the 767-300ER, and we are guaranteeing a 30% better airframe maintenance cost over this aircraft," says Bair.


Boeing says the first C check airframe maintenance event will take place after 36 months compared to 18-24 months for the 767. The more thorough D check will take place after 12 years for the 787. The comparable interval for the 767 is 6-8 years.

After stressing the fuel efficiency and performance of the aircraft, Boeing is now shifting some of its focus onto the maintenance benefits of the 787, says Bair.

The company is confident composite materials will perform well after in-service experience with the 777. For instance, there have been no maintenance actions at all on 777 composite floor beams due to corrosion or fatigue so far, he says.

These parts, previously made of aluminium alloys, have been lucrative spares items for the manufacturer on past models as they are located in aggressive corrosion environments like under galleys. On the 777, the only sale it has made for a floor beam has been to itself for testing.

Source: Flight Daily News