Completion of the Super Star landing gear
"Landing gears are major components that have to withstand extreme stress but have no inbuilt redundancy – so they have to work," explains engineer Dirk Wagner of Landing Gear Overhauls, who is managing the Super Star project there. This makes it all the more important that a landing gear overhaul should be faultless. And all the greater the challenge posed by the Super Star landing gears purchased a few years earlier, which turned out to be in much poorer condition than had been expected on the basis of visual inspection alone. Now the work is complete and the landing gear set has been restored to a condition which, according to Dirk Wagner, is "better than new".
As Dirk Wagner explains: "Because there was no pre-existing approach that could be followed," the poor condition and the technologies that were the subject of the overhaul together made the repair extremely difficult. Production drawings through to repair manuals were incomplete or else totally missing, so that special repairs needed to be developed. Then there were the materials that are no longer used today. "At that time, for example, pins were not chrome-plated, resulting in corrosion. The biggest discrepancy compared with today's standard was in the nose landing gear: the wheels were made from a magnesium alloy, which may be lighter but it is more susceptible to corrosion," Dirk Wagner explains. The colleagues therefore developed an axis modification for usable Airbus A320 wheels. No less important were smaller parts such as bushings, special bolts or, for example, bearings for the landing gear suspension, which did not exist in those days. Dirk Wagner explains: "Because a lot of spare parts are no longer available, it was our engineering task to fabricate the parts required."
The Super Star colleagues had to overcome not just technical difficulties but legal ones as well, as naturally all the repairs and parts developed had to be officially approved. Along with the brakes and hydraulic parts the landing gear for the legendary aircraft now incorporates almost 80 approvals.
All in all, it was a historic triumph or, better expressed, an innovative masterstroke "that was only possible with company-wide support and a high degree of persistence and expertise," says Dirk Wagner. Head of department Matthias Malina and Andreas Tielmann, Senior Vice President Aircraft Systems, hosted a fitting party to celebrate the new Super Star. Andreas Tielmann spoke of a "long, six-year ride to get to this milestone" and thanked not only the "landing gear people", but also the colleagues involved from the electroplating shop, Hydraulics and Brake Overhaul as well as the entire Super Star project.