Germany’s Lufthansa Technik (Stand 1150) is showcasing at the Dubai Airshow both its commercial MRO and VIP cabin completions capabilities. “The Middle East continues to be a growth market,” said Richard Haas, Lufthansa Technik senior director of corporate sales Middle East and Africa, summing up regional MRO demand.
The company counts some 30 wholly or partly owned subsidiaries in its global service network, including Lufthansa Technik Middle East (LHTME), a wholly-owned facility with hangar and workshop space at the Mohammed bin Rashid Aerospace Hub at Dubai South. Services include engine support and washing, landing gear work, and a local material support desk. By retaining complete ownership of the facility, “We can transfer the way we do business, one to one,” Haas said, adding, “We believe you need to be close to the customer.”
Established in 2017, LHTME’s footprint was doubled last year to 5,000 sq m (53,820 sq ft), the added space for increased airframe-related component work, such as on the composite inlet cowls for Boeing’s 787, and storage space for spares including new nacelles and radomes for the Boeing 787 and 777 and Airbus A320.
The expanded facility also enables local mobile support teams to perform some on-wing repair work at customer sites within the region, significantly reducing costs and turnaround times.
LHTME, which can support VIP as well as commercial operators, also operates a warehouse at Al Maktoum International Airport with additional parts storage for local spares support.
The company is conducting tours of LHTME and providing shuttle bus service to and from the site during the Dubai Airshow.
On the custom completions side, LHT is showcasing a VIP airliner sporting one of its interiors on static display and presenting cabin concepts for both narrow- and wide-body VIP platforms at its stand. Wieland Timm, senior head of sales, VIP and special mission aircraft, said the bespoke cabin division is “pretty optimistic about the Dubai Airshow,” given the region’s appetite for VIP aircraft.
Headlining the interiors concepts is SkyRetreat, a yacht-like cabin design conceived for an executive version of the Airbus A220. Unveiled at the Monaco Yacht Show in September, SkyRetreat features deck-like flooring and furnishings to match, highlighted by a forward observation area that includes the cockpit and a divan, accessible in all phases of flight, where passengers can observe the flight deck and don headsets to monitor radio communications.
“The younger generation in the Middle East is interested” in the concept, said Timm. “They are coming to Dubai, and we expect [reaction to] our layout will be very positive.”
Though about a half meter narrower than an A319, the open interior plan gives the cabin an expansive look, and the A220’s range of some 3,800 nm—more limited than an ACJ and BBJ—makes the aircraft's mission profile well-suited to such an interior. “Most customers are not flying longer than three, four, or five hours; nobody needs a sleeping room or a shower,” Timm said. “If they’re tired, they can rest in the divan or a seat.”
One major hitch: a VIP version of the jet—an ACJ220—doesn’t exist, but according to Timm, Airbus has an interest in offering a corporate variant. (An ACJ spokesperson, asked about an ACJ220, told AIN the company is “focused on the ACJ319neo and ACJ320neo, deliveries of which only began this year.”
The SkyRetreat concept is adaptable to ACJ and BBJ narrow-bodies as well, Timm said.
From an economics perspective, he added, the simplicity and the reduced size makes SkyRetreat (or almost any other custom interior) less costly than typical executive airliner completions, while the platform itself provides “significant operational and cost and maintenance advantages.”