The good Life

The maintenance and repair of VIP jets has contributed in no small measure to make Lufthansa Technik a flying success, writes SHAFQUAT ALI

At the hangar in the Lufthansa Technik (LHT) workshop in Hamburg there were a couple of airplanes that caught my fancy. “Whom does that belong to?” I asked pointing in the direction of one of them. “Sorry, can’t tell” was all I got by way of reply. Considering that our man was enthusiastically answering everything even before I could complete some of my questions, this came as something of a surprise.

“Go on, tell me,” I prodded. “Promise, won’t write about it. Won’t even tell anyone…” But he refused to budge. “IT’S CONFIDENTIAL!”
He was made of sterner stuff, I told myself, before giving up. A couple of minutes later, noticing that I didn’t like the sudden change in our host, he patted me on the shoulder and whispered. “Okay,” he said, “what I can tell you is that it is from your part of the world.”
I presumed it belonged to a rich sheikh or, even, royalty. Even though I was denied a photo opportunity inside the aircraft or even next to one, I can live with the fact that that was perhaps the closest I could get to a royal flight.

A few minutes later, I was treated to a photo gallery that showcased all that I had probably missed out on – by a few yards. Acres of rich leather, lavish carpets, sparkling gold knobs, 42-inch plasma display and more.
According to August Wilhelm Henningsen, chairman of the Executive Board of Lufthansa Technik AG, the maintenance, repair, overhaul and equipment of VIP aircraft was a high revenue earner for the company. But since Lufthansa Technik specialises in converting medium-haul aircraft like the Boeing 737 and Airbus A319 into customised business or VIP jets that didn’t come as a surprise. For the record, of the 85 maintenance events handled annually at the Hamburg base more than half are ordered by VIP customers.

And yes, you are right, a sizeable part of these customers are from the Middle East. “Of the 40-odd VIP aircraft serviced every year by LHT, more than 30 are owned and/or operated by governments including those from the Middle East and Germany,” says Henningsen. And, with unmatched service, the number of VIP aircraft landing at the Hamburg base is steadily increasingly.
The reasons owners and operators of VIP, corporate and government jets throughout the world opt for Lufthansa Technik’s Completion Centre over others is far too many to list. For starters, VIP aircraft benefit from LHT’s over 40 years experience of design engineering and craftsmanship with over 30 full completions to date – its large facilities have the capacity to work simultaneously on six customer installations.

From the integration of flat speakers in the cabin walls to the installation of mobile-intensive care units in airliners and military transports, LHT is ready to tailor make solutions and designs for individual customers and, hence, has become the single-source service provider for large, customised VIP, corporate and government aircraft. In fact, a large team of  engineers is devoted solely to the task of designing and developing new components and systems. Their innovative strength – known as “innovation engineering” – forms the backbone of Lufthansa Technik’s capability of offering customised solutions for VIP and executive jet aircraft.

What’s more, on a customer’s demand, LHT not only sends licensed aircraft engineers with a specialist knowledge to oversee the final assembly of aircraft from start to finish and follow the daily assembly progress of the aircraft but, once operational, it even allows its own personnel to accompany them on board. “We are always there to take care of our customers’ needs,” says Henningsen. “They can take our personnel on board to oversee their personnel needs – for their flight operations, in the cockpit, in the cabin, and on the ground.”

This service is offered either to tackle a temporary bottleneck situation or to supplement the customer’s flight department for the long term. For this all-encompassing support, the company’s VIP & Executive Jet Services draws on the entire in-house resources of Lufthansa Technik and its global network of technical service companies, along with the wide-ranging capabilities of the whole Lufthansa Aviation Group.
So, when it comes to VIP & Executive Jet Services, the Lufthansa Technik team has a single-minded goal: to offer the best. It knows that its VIP customers will settle for nothing less!