Technical development competence
Innovative solutions tailored to customers' needs
As the world's biggest provider of technical support services for aircraft, Lufthansa Technik is more than just a maintenance and repair organization. The company is also an aviation authority-approved development and production organization. This multiple competence contributes significantly to the company's leading position and makes it possible to fulfill even the most complex customer requirements.
More than 500 engineers work in the various business units in Hamburg, a team of over 120 people is responsible solely for the development of new technologies, equipment and systems. Lufthansa Technik's technical expertise in the conversion of aircraft for private customers is particularly striking. The problems that the team is regularly asked to solve call for an unusually wide range of development competencies, as customers' requirements vary widely, for example, from the design of a water supply system with extra large tank volume to a very large-format plasma screen for the on-board audio and video system or custom-built furniture for the cabin.
From individual product to series production
Although some in-house developments were designed primarily to meet the needs of private customers, others have also found their way into commercial airliners. One example here is GuideU ColourCurve, a floor path marking system for passenger aircraft which has become the standard on the international market. The light strips work without electrical power and hence can be relied on to indicate the route to the emergency exits in a darkened cabin, even after an electrical failure. Skypower®, a system for supplying power to individual passenger seats to enable the use of laptops, was also developed by Lufthansa Technik.
Another example of a customer-oriented product developed by Lufthansa Technik is the Cyclean® engine cleaning system. Cyclean® Engine Wash is a new method for washing engine interiors quickly and effectively using water delivered under high pressure. Removing deposits in this way enables the high-pressure compressor of an engine to work more cleanly and efficiently, resulting in a better flow of air and a reduction in exhaust gas temperature. Improving engine performance in this way not only cuts fuel consumption and emissions of pollutants, but also brings savings in maintenance costs throughout the service life of an engine.
A further example of the competence of Lufthansa Technik is the development of a system for high-speed Internet access on board commercial aircraft. Originally developed for VIP customers, today these products are also available to passengers of commercial airlines. Between 2004 and 2006 Lufthansa equipped its entire long-haul fleet with fast internet access based on this system. To connect passengers to the Internet even at cruise altitude, Lufthansa Technik fitted a special antenna to the upper side of the aircraft fuselage which ensured connection to the worldwide net by satellite. Even at a cruise speed of 900 km/h, the antenna maintains steady contact with the satellites, thus permitting transmission speeds similar to those that passengers are used to for convenient online applications at home or in the office. When the then partner, Connexion by Boeing, discontinued the Internet access service Lufthansa stopped the product and looked for an alternative partner, which has been found now. The new cooperation with Panasonic allowed Lufthansa to re-launch the service in the end of 2010. Lufthansa Technik is currently fitting the complete long-haul fleet of Lufthansa with the new system.
Engine overhaul: higher quality and service life
Based on the innovative work of its engineers and technicians, Lufthansa Technik enjoys an excellent reputation worldwide in the overhaul and repair of engine components, with repair procedures developed in-house resulting in higher quality and longer service life for parts. Thus the service life of an engine overhauled by Lufthansa Technik is up to 50 percent above the industry average. One example of such an innovative repair method is the Advanced Recontouring Process (ARP), used to give worn compressor blades a new profile contour in a robot-controlled grinding process. Compared with blades that have been manually reground, blades reconditioned using ARP have a much more precise aerodynamic profile, resulting in lower fuel consumption. They can also be reconditioned four times instead of three, raising service life and thus reducing material costs.
Lufthansa Technik's technical competence is based on decades of experience in the maintenance and overhaul of commercial aircraft. Lufthansa Technik looks after over 2,000 aircraft, in many cases over the entire life cycle. In the course of this work Lufthansa Technik's technicians get to know the potential weak points better than the aircraft manufacturers themselves and accordingly are able to develop solutions and refine them further over time. The number of repair procedures developed by Lufthansa Technik that have been incorporated into the manufacturers' manuals underlines the quality of these innovations.
This extensive experience is also manifest in the VIP customer business. Here too Lufthansa Technik has established itself successfully on the market over a period of more than 50 years. In this area the company develops solutions and installations for its customers, satisfying even the most unusual requirements, as long as they are in compliance with the regulations of aviation authorities.
Cabin Innovation Center
In spring 2009 Lufthansa Technik has officially inaugurated its new research and development center for the "Cabin Innovation" business unit. The new building represents an investment of nearly 10 million euros. More than 150 employees are working there to develop products like inflight-entertainment and cabin management systems or new seat concepts. In addition to offices, the center features state-of-the-art test laboratories and exhibition areas for the new products that are being developed for customers all over the world. Cutting-edge test facilities to monitor the airworthiness of new products (pre-compliance tests) have been installed in a so-called "qualification lab", including an environmental testing chamber and equipment to ensure electromagnetic compatibility, as well as vibration and crash test facilities.