Airbus A380 - Lufthansa Technik present from the very beginning
Since May 2010 the first Airbus A380 flies in Lufthansa colors. Entry into service of the mega-liner presented special challenges, not just because of its size. From a technological point of view, the A380 marks the peak of modern aircraft design.
Lufthansa and Lufthansa Technik have already been involved in the development of the world's largest passenger aircraft even when the project was still known as the A3XX. Airbus had been at pains to win the support of the technically leading airlines. One of these was Lufthansa, which had already brought its extensive know-how to bear on numerous other Airbus programs as launch customer.
Frequently more than 10 Lufthansa Technik engineers had been working on the specification and development of the A380 as members of the various customer focus groups since 2001. Drawing on their experience from flying operations and maintenance, they were helping to optimize the manufacturer's design. One important aspect was the reliability of the individual systems. Which solutions had proved particularly successful in the past? What needed to be changed?
Enormous pool of knowledge
Again, as far as the maintainability of an aircraft is concerned, close contact between designers and operators was proving beneficial to both sides. The airlines and MRO service providers will have to live with the outcome of this development work for decades. They expect an aircraft to be designed in such a way that all the work can be carried out quickly, easily, ergonomically and with the smallest possible number of special tools. And they know the ideal solutions just as intimately as those that are less advisable. For the introduction of the A380, Lufthansa Technik's extensive experience of other aircraft types was flowing into this project and there is an enormous pool of knowledge which the MRO provider can call upon.
Once again, Lufthansa Technik's engineers had been able to achieve some critical improvements on the A380 in dialog with the manufacturer. For example, one air generation unit was originally designed in such a way that when it needed to be replaced, the entire unit would have had to be exchanged as a single component. On one hand, our experts made practical design suggestions to ease the removal and installation of the more than 400 kg heavy unit, and on the other hand proposed solutions to monitor the condition of the attached heat exchangers to avoid regular servicing.
Due to the enormous size of the A380, on-the-job safety plays an even more important role inside the aircraft. For example, section 19, at the rear of the aircraft behind the pressure bulkhead, is over four meters high inside. Adequate working platforms were suggested and integrated at last. Customization of the aircraft is running in parallel. The fundamentals of the cabin layout had to be defined. Here, Lufthansa Technik engineers were acting as advisors to the product management of Lufthansa Passage Airline.
Chairing the Industrial Steering committee
In the Industrial Steering Committee representatives of manufacturer, operator and civil aviation authorities together jointly developed the first maintenance schedule for the A380. The body was chaired by Lufthansa Technik. Decisions that were made there affect the maintenance cost for the A380 for years to come. Solutions had to be found that maximize operational efficiency as well as technical reliability and suite the airlines' everyday operational needs without compromising safety.
Practical experience was proving invaluable to both sides in regards to the training of maintenance personnel. For this reason, Lufthansa Technik subsidiary Lufthansa Technical Training also had a representative on-site in Toulouse who was involved in the development of training programs for the technical personnel.
Preparations for the entry into service of the A380 had also begun, for example, in the initial provisioning of spare parts and the procurement and setting up of the associated logistics. Some of these activities involved collaboration with partners over the provisioning of components. In June 2005, Lufthansa Technik and Air France Industries had set up the joint venture "Spairliners" to provide services and components not only for the 27 A380s the two airlines have on order. With the A380´s entry into service with Qantas Airways in October 2008, Spairliners had already begun its technical and component support for the A380. With the arrival of the giant twin-deck airliner in the Lufthansa´s fleet, Spairliners had already collected intensive experience in servicing the A380.
The best care for its Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines is provided by N3 Engine Overhaul Services in Arnstadt, Germany, a joint venture of Lufthansa Technik and Rolls-Royce PLC. Starting in April 2007, N3 is one of the world's advanced, most up-to-date and best-equipped maintenance and repair facilities for large Rolls-Royce three-shaft turbofan engines, including the Trent 500, 700 and 900.
The service entry of the world´s biggest commercial airliner was accompanied by many challenges. Improving technology was important, but even more important is the qualification of the people that will use it. To prepare its already highly trained personnel for working with the A380, Lufthansa Technical Training (LTT), a 100 percent subsidiary of Lufthansa Technik, is offering a new comprehensive A380 maintenance training program in Frankfurt. The first course had started on October 7, 2008. In the course the first Lufthansa Technik employees were prepared for the arrival of the first Lufthansa A380, paving the way for a smooth entry in service.