Polish flag carrier LOT has contracted Monarch Aircraft Engineering (MAEL) to provide entry-into-service support for its Boeing 787 fleet and develop respective capabilities at its MRO partner, LOT Aircraft Maintenance Services (LOTAMS).

Although MAEL is a partner in Boeing's GoldCare aftermarket programme, it will supply the services to LOT as an independent MRO provider. Mick Adams, MAEL managing director, and technical director of parent company Monarch Airlines, insists there is no conflict in being the US airframer's partner - and receiver of intellectual property - for GoldCare contracts, while also acting as a competitor.

"We have to accept that not everybody is going to select GoldCare," he says. "We cannot preclude that opportunity to the operator. So we have to make sure that we provide the service [for such airlines]."

LOTAMS is the Polish airline's former in-house engineering division in Warsaw. It was restructured as standalone maintenance company in 2010, although its entire share capital was transferred to the Polish government's Industrial Development Agency in March this year.

Luton-based MAEL will establish a line maintenance station with 10 to 20 expatriate engineers in Warsaw, says Adams, to provide all scheduled and unscheduled airframe maintenance work up to C checks.

Line maintenance for the 787 is organised into phase 1, 2, 3 and 4 checks, with aircraft undergoing each level every year. While phase 1, 2 and 3 checks can be conducted on the airport ramp, phase 4 events will be conducted in a hangar and typically take one or two days, says Adams.

"It is difficult to pin down, because [the maintenance plan] has not been finalised and depends very much on the operator," he says. "They might have specific items [to check], such as cabin work."

Both phase 4 and C checks will be conducted at MAEL's base maintenance hangar in Manchester. The C checks should typically take three or four days, according to Adams and will need to be performed after around six years' service.

MAEL will be responsible for airframe support, including provision of expendables and consumables. Maintenance of rotable components will be arranged by LOT through a separate deal.

Part of the deal with LOT - MAEL's second 787 customer after GoldCare subscriber Thomson Airways - is that the UK company will help establish 787 support capabilities at LOTAMS and gradually move work packages across to the Polish MRO provider.

Even though he expects that MAEL's Warsaw workforce will be reduced "over time", Adams nevertheless thinks that the deal will lead to "long-term collaboration" with LOT and LOTAMS.

MAEL is currently purchasing tools and other equipment in order to service the 787. Although Adams stresses the new-generation type requires "less specialist equipment than people might think", it still needs a range of new kit. This includes damage detection tools for composite structures, repair kits for fibre-optical wiring and laptop computers to access the aircraft's maintenance systems.

The company will also need to buy a special unit to cool the onboard components on the ground as the equipment's temperature is controlled in flight using ram air.

LOT will be the first European 787 operator and is due to take delivery of the first aircraft in November. It will receive five 787-8s from Boeing by February 2013. Two more will arrive a year later, and the last aircraft should enter service by mid-2015 according to the carrier.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news