Boeing and Uzbekistan Airways signed a MRO agreement for the latter’s 787-8 Dreamliner fleet, the two parties announced on February 11, 2019. In particular, Boeing is to provide landing gear exchanges for the carrier, claiming that the program “greatly reduces maintenance time, helps the airline quickly return airplanes to service, and enables the airline to focus its resources on core operations,” according to a statement.

Both companies already operate a joint Composite Repair Shop in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

The news comes at the time as Uzbekistan Airways is loosening financial control of its MRO unit Uzbekistan Airways Technics (UAT). The move is aimed to give the MRO company more flexibility in decision making and is the first step of separation process, which eventually could see the UAT becoming an independent entity, Russian aviation media reported in autumn 2018.

Uzbekistan Airways took delivery of its first two Dreamliners and began operating them  in 2016. In 2018, it received two more aircraft: one passenger and one operated for the government of the country. According to Boeing’s orderbook, the carrier is awaiting three more aircraft, two expected in 2019 with the final delivery in 2020. At that point, with seven aircraft in its fleet, Uzbekistan Airways should become the biggest Dreamliner operator in Central Asia.

The airline was recently criticized over its Dreamliner operations. In January 2019, a publication in Fergana news cited “an informed source in the company” claiming that two of the airline’s Dreamliners were allegedly damaged due to improper operation. In particular, a source referred to both as an “expert” and an “employee of the company” argues that Uzbekistan Airways operates its Dreamliners on short haul flights (less than 5,000 kilometers distance) to Moscow, Dubai, Istanbul and Beijing. According to Flighradar24 data, the airline indeed uses the aircraft on routes like Tashkent-Istanbul or Tashkent-Moscow, however, three of its Dreamliners (excluding the governmental plane) are currently operational.