The largest Boeing 787 system suppliers laid out aftermarket support programs years ago, and say they are ready for aircraft operations to launch. In fact, “We’re better prepared for the 787 entry into service than I think we have been for any prior airplane” says Brad Weyer, senior director of Boeing programs at Rockwell Collins.

Weyer largely credits that to Rockwell Collins’ involvement in Boeing’s entry into service and flight test programs, as well as Rockwell taking “full advantage of the fact that Boeing wanted to have all of its key suppliers well trained and prepared for onsite support of the aircraft.”

Rockwell Collins, which supplies the flight display, crew alerting pilot controls and communication and surveillance systems, along with the core network and common data network, has a team of 12 customer service engineers who have taken Boeing and Rockwell Collins training and have received practical experience from on-the-job training through supporting Boeing’s flight test program, says Weyer. Those engineers will be out in the field supporting the aircraft when it starts commercial service.

Weyer didn’t want to “surge” support for the 787, but rather have local customer service reps trained and ready to support the fleet as it enters service. He says this global network is ready, and one transient customer service leader will travel around the globe and help the local support teams.

GE Aviation Systems, which supplies the 787’s common core system, data recorders and landing gear, has field service engineers in place around the world who were embedded in its design and development teams. Especially for the first few years, the GE will have these field service engineers, who have a deep understand of GE’s systems, onsite. “We want to be sure that if there is an issue, it’s not GE holding up the airplane,” says Larry Martin, product director of aviation computer systems. “This is the most significant major launch for us in 10-15 years so you want to make sure you do it right,” he adds.

GE’s repair stations in Clearwater, Fla., and Singapore have 787 spares, test equipment and trained personnel ready to go, and AOG stock is strategically placed around the world.

Rockwell Collins’ repair stations in Seattle and Singapore have spare parts, maintenance and overhaul test equipment, and trained technicians online ready for the first flights.

Rockwell Collins determined the number and quantity of spares in the Far East because that’s where a lot of early 787 customers are based. It determined stocking levels based on flight test results, predicted reliability of equipment and airline preferences. “We worked very closely with airline customers to understand what their specific needs and to make them feel confident about their entry into service,” says Weyer.

“More so than in the past, we’ve tried to understand what the maintenance desires of the airlines are,” so we can sell them spares based on predicted reliability and LRU dispatch rules, rental exchange pools, dispatch programs.

GE Aviation Systems also modeled spares based on projected needs, historical data for similar products and agreements with Boeing. Martin says airlines’ initial provisioning, and when they place those orders, vary greatly.

Hamilton Sundstrand, the largest systems supplier on the Boeing 787, has forged a unique aftermarket support agreement for integrated component support and rotable financing with Mubadala Aerospace.

Mubadala’s MRO companies, SR Technics and Abu Dhabi Aircraft Technologies, will service Hamilton Sundstrand’s components and systems on the 787 through a licensing agreement. Sanad, the company Mubadala launched in early 2010 to lease and manage spares assets, will provide component financing.

Hamilton Sundstrand says two of its motivators in crafting the Mubadala agreement are to give 787 operators a choice of maintenance providers and to tap into Mubadala’s MRO capabilities in Europe and the Middle East.

Hamilton Sundstrand has been working on 787 entry into service preparation for quite awhile. Last November, it opened its new customer response center to address technical and spare parts issues 24/7, and it recently formed a 787 aftermarket program office staffed by parts specialists who will support operators.

It also will have 18,000 initial components prepositioned around the world to support 787 operators.

Hamilton Sundstrand has nine major systems, comprising about 600 components and subsystems, on the 787—including an electric auxiliary power unit, an electric environmental control system and an electric power generating and start system.