LHT weathers recession in good form
While most of the completion and refurbishment industry was taking it on the chin during the recession of the past 18 months, Lufthansa Technik was taking it with barely a shrug, according to the German company’s senior vice president of marketing and sales Walter Heerdt. “We felt it, but not too much,” he told AIN. “We had a pretty good backlog, and we have been very successful in selling in 2009.”
But that success was based on taking in at the front end only what the Hamburg MRO and completion and refurbishment center could turn out at the other end on spec and on time.
In fact, said Heerdt, revenue income in 2009 was approximately the same as it was in 2008, “and 2008 was an exceptionally good year.” No less important, he added, is that Lufthansa Technik has delivered on time, and the latest project, an A319 green completion, was delivered early.
That said, Lufthansa is hard at work on a fleet of narrow- and widebody green completion jobs for the Special Air Mission Wing of the Germany Ministry of Defense for the country’s government flight department. The first, an Airbus A319 in an executive/ VIP configuration with additional military equipment, was delivered earlier this year, “on time and on budget.”
The aircraft is equipped with four auxiliary fuel tanks to allow nonstop missions from Berlin to Beijing or Washington, D.C. The official delegation area is convertible to a flying intensive care unit with additional oxygen and a separate power supply.
A second A319 is expected to be handed over in June. The last two aircraft–Airbus A340-300s– will form the Special Air Mission Wing’s new long-haul fleet and are to be delivered late this year or early 2011.
Lufthansa Technik (Booth No. 343) continues to avoid outsourcing, actively developing its own cabin management systems and other equipment. A key to this is the new 68,700-sq-ft Innovations Center opened last year. And Heerdt is clear that this $14 million investment was not just for the creation of new toys.
Last year, the core team, now close to 100 technicians and scientists, received a Crystal Cabin Award for its NiceView passenger flight information and moving-map display. The system took the old moving map to a new level with high-resolution satellite imagery, 3-D maps and virtual flights views, information overlays and the ability to play movies and multi-channel audio.
“We have developed some interesting products for commercial and business aviation, and [we are introducing] some very interesting new products at EBACE,” said Heerdt.