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Inside job

Lufthansa Technik has been busy over the last couple of years in supporting its parent airline with a wide range of cabin upgrades. Shortened timescales and complex workscopes required tight control of the programme, as Ian Harbison reports

Last year, the major programme was the introduction of the new Premium Economy cabin across the longhaul fleet. However, Georg Stoffelen, Head of Project Management, says this was preceded by an even more ambitious programme involving 88 aircraft, of six different types, with varying degrees of complexity in the projects associated with each model. Valuable lessons were learnt that helped with the Premium Economy fit and it is worth taking a look back at how these challenges were met.


For the Airbus A330-300, 19 aircraft were modified with the Zodiac Inflight Innovations RAVE seat-centric IFE system, replacing an older Rockwell Collins system that was generating increased amounts of maintenance. The economy class seats had to be modified to accept the new screens. Overall there was a weight saving of 500 to 600kg per aircraft.


RAVE also featured on 18 Airbus A340-300 aircraft, along with new economy class seats from ZIM Flugsitz, modified first class seats altered to take new IFE screens, and some cabin rework. The system was added to 24 A340-600s as well, but these aircraft underwent major structural work to remove the Lower Deck – Mobile Crew Rest (LC-MDR). This freed up space for two additional containers in the cargo hold, but required a modified galley on the main deck to accommodate a new crew rest area.


A total of 13 Boeing 747-400s were converted from a three class layout to just Business and Economy. In addition to RAVE and the modified seats, a new galley/lavatory unit was installed on the upper deck to serve Business Class, coupled with a new crew rest area that was added to the main deck. The revised configuration also provided two additional quad seat rows in the centre of the main deck. Meanwhile, further structural work was required due to the increased weight of the B/E Aerospace fully lie-flat seats in Business.


For the new 747-8, 15 aircraft were delivered from the Seattle production line to the new standard. Only another four required the installation of the Lufthansa Systems Flynet wifi-based connectivity service. These aircraft also overlapped with the Premium Economy project, with the new cabin being introduced in parallel.


Finally, 10 Airbus A380s received a Panasonic eX2 IFE system, new Business class seats and Flynet. Some were also fitted for the Patient Transport Container/Patient Transport Unit (PTC/PTU) for medical evacuation – three aircraft from each longhaul type are now provisioned in this way. Four other aircraft were upgraded to the new standard.


Every aircraft of every type now also features new sidewall covering and carpets.


Because of the tight timescale of getting as many aircraft to the same standard as quickly as possible, coupled with the large number of aircraft in the first instance, work was shared between the Lufthansa Technik facilities in Hamburg, Frankfurt, Malta and the Philippines as well as a number of external MROs: SIA Engineering in Singapore, Sogerma in Bordeaux, SR Technics in Zurich, and TAECO Xiamen in China. In addition, it was not possible in every case to accommodate the work during a heavy check, when the aircraft are in the hangar anyway. As a result, for the first time in the airline’s history, the Lufthansa board made the decision to not only ground aircraft solely for the modifications, but also to do it in the busy summer flying season.


Given Lufthansa Technik’s extensive experience, the design and approval stages of the project were relatively simple. The biggest risk was in the supply chain, where the weakest links were potentially the seat and IFE suppliers, as can often be seen across the industry. >>

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