Interface between OEM and Aircraft Operator

Engineer in heart and soul

Expert for composite materials

As a senior engineer for aircraft structures, Thorsten Koch is an important interface between manufacturer, maintenance company and aircraft operator. Thanks to his extensive know-how, he is able to ensure smooth exchanges and economic solutions. 

Thorsten Koch explains a test equipment for detecting delamination or stringer disbanding on A350 carbon fiber-reinforced polymer structures – a fairly new procedure for aircraft mechanics on the apron.

Identifying problems early on

Thorsten Koch describes himself as an "engineer in heart and soul". And when he talks, you can tell how much he enjoys his job as Senior Aircraft System Engineer for Aircraft Structures at Lufthansa Technik in Frankfurt. System engineers monitor the reliability of a system – in his case, it's the aircraft structure. He cooperates closely with aircraft operators and manufacturers so that they can identify problems early on and find solutions to those problems together. "We make sure that the systems are working in line with pre-defined parameters and observe trends," he says. As Senior Engineer, he is one of the single points of contact for structure-related problems and matters that can affect different types of aircraft. 

“Safety, reliability, efficiency, and comfort – in that order – of our customer fleets are our mission.”

Thorsten Koch

Senior Aircraft System Engineer for Aircraft Structures

Sustainable and ​Effecient solutions

Together with the customer

Often, system engineers are the first to notice and identify a problem – and then customers expect quick solutions. The system engineer and his colleagues prepare a risk assessment in order to evaluate both airworthiness and cost-effectiveness. "Then we develop a sustainable solution together with all involved parties and recommend the best course of action, ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements at any time." There are two options: "We can optimize the maintenance program and check an error-prone system more frequently, for example. Or we can modify the aircraft, which means the components are brought up to the very latest standard." The decision is ultimately made by the customer. 

Experience and ​Cooperation

Supporting the ​A350

As of recently, Koch is deeply involved in the support of the A350, after already accompanying this aircraft type during key stages of its development and all the way to its entry into service over the past years. "We're currently in the stabilization and expansion stage with Lufthansa's A350 fleet," he says. Thorsten Koch spends a major part of the day working at his desk, attending meetings and coordinating work with others, but he also likes to take a look at the problems directly. "It's great to be so close to the hangars as we can gain a lot of experience that way. And this experience is one of our major strengths." 

Relationships of trust

Thorsten Koch and his colleagues work together closely with manufacturers, aviation authorities and customers. "Over the years, we have built up a relationship of trust," he says. And that benefits all sides. "After all, design flaws increase the costs ten-fold when it comes to production and hundred-fold when it comes to operation." Koch represents Lufthansa Technik as an expert in international working groups, such as the maintenance working groups of manufacturers, aircraft operators and authorities. He notes : "I look forward to how things will develop. Lending a hand to start-ups is just as exciting to me as helping established, major customers on their way." 



Thorsten Koch

Thorsten Koch studied mechanical engineering with a focus on lightweight construction, structures and fiber-reinforced composites. Afterwards, he became a research assistant at the Technical University of Darmstadt. In 2006, after demonstrating an exceptional knowledge of composite materials, Koch joined the Aircraft Engineering department at Lufthansa Technik as a structural engineer for the A320. Three years later, the department was restructured and the role of senior engineers introduced. 

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