Nils Borkheim; Maintenance Manager at Lufthansa Technik

Line Maintenance Manager on Duty

A night with Nils

I can't delegate things up

Tonight Nils Borkheim is responsible for the technical work and punctual delivery of 27 aircraft. As a trained engine mechanic with numerous qualifications acquired when working as an aircraft mechanic he is now the Maintenance Manager on Duty for aircraft maintenance in Hamburg.

At 11:30 p.m., a tractor tows an A320 into hangar 4 of the Lufthansa Technik base in Hamburg. Nils Borkheim gives the thumbs-up sign and watches over the parking of the aircraft on the only space still free in the hangar. Immediately, several technicians begin with the work, putting wheel chocks in place and ladders in position. Tonight, Nils and his crew are in charge of a total of 27 aircraft – five with larger work packages in the hangar and 22 with smaller tasks on the apron directly on the airfield. 32 mechanics are at work.

“In aircraft maintenance, we calculate in terms of hours and minutes – not days.”

Nils Borkheim, Line Maintenance Manager

Responsibility for personnel and technology

"My job is to put together an executable schedule," Nils says. "Then everything runs its course." From his office on the second floor, he has a good overview of the hangar, where everyone is working hard. Now two employees approach him, they have questions about how they should handle a particular item. Nils looks at the papers and electronic documents for the aircraft, and together they find the decisive section in the documents. A wealth of special knowledge and quick decision-making are important in his job. As he says, "I can't delegate things up." Nils can rely on his extensive knowledge and experience. Even today, it is important to him to maintain his qualifications by regularly working directly on the aircraft. "I want to stay mentally prepared." During the night Nils leaves the office several times to walk around the hangar and to see if everything is going well. Next to each aircraft there is a board on which all the technical tasks are listed. A communications station with computers is used for documentation.

A passion for aviation

As the night progresses the work on some aircraft is already completed and the lights are off. "It is not always this peaceful", Nils says, "Time is our opponent. In aircraft maintenance, we calculate in terms of hours and minutes – not days. Our prime objective is to keep our promise to our customers and get the aircraft out safely and on time so that the flight schedule can be kept." In the silence of the night, he talks about his hobby: historic aircraft such as the Ju 52 of the Deutsche Lufthansa Berlin Foundation and the Swiss Super Constellation. "You need ‘aviation nuts' to keep these aircraft in the air," he laughs, and means himself, too, since he has already spent innumerable hours together with the other ‘nuts'.

Nils' shift lasts until 6:30 a.m. - for him it's a dream job. "I've turned my hobby into my profession." And then he is off again, moving through the hangar to make sure everything is all right.