Shaping the history of aircraft services
The dawn of the jet age
Lufthansa Technik’s roots go back to the founding of the new Lufthansa in the early fifties. After the four allies dissolved the old Lufthansa in 1951, a successor company was founded just two years later. At that time, at the western end of the Hamburg airport, the foundation was laid for the new airline’s technical base. When Deutsche Lufthansa AG began its scheduled flight service on 31 March 1955, the first double hangar, able to accommodate three four-engine propeller-driven Super Constellations, was already standing at the Hamburg base. In 1957 construction of two additional hangars began. The workshop area was expanded. An engine shop with an electroplating facility and an office building were added.
On 2 March 1960 the landing of Lufthansa’s first Boeing 707 in Hamburg ushered in the jet age. The Frankfurt airport was to become the future homebase of the new long-haul jets. Lufthansa began building a maintenance base at Rhine-Main airport. Frankfurt subsequently became the most important hub in Lufthansa’s route network and the center for daily maintenance. In 1962 Lufthansa opened a test stand for jet engines at its maintenance base in Hamburg. It also built the world’s first noise-protection hangar there. In the sixties, in addition to its own aircraft, it began servicing those of other customers. The U.S. FAA authorized Lufthansa’s engineering division to service the aircraft and engines of American airlines. Even then Lufthansa’s engineers were developing their own repair procedures that attracted airlines from all over the world to Hamburg.
The flying giants
Even during its first twenty years the Lufthansa facility spawned a flourishing technology company highly respected by its customers. Despite the economic setbacks caused by the oil crises of the seventies, the volume of incoming orders kept growing at double-digit rates. The biggest boost came from the ATLAS Group, an alliance of Lufthansa with Air France, Iberia, Alitalia and Sabena. Meanwhile the high-flying jumbo jets were becoming more numerous. In March 1970 the first Boeing 747-100 landed in Hamburg. These new aircraft were quieter, emitted less pollutants and were more economical to operate. Then microelectronics and new-style computers began appearing onboard, requiring new maintenance procedures.
In the eighties the expansion of Lufthansa’s engineering division proceeded apace. A new painting hangar was built to meet modern aircraft painting needs in a manner protective of the environment. A new brand awareness began to develop. In the light of the economic slowdown and growing international competition in the air transport sector, the Group’s bureaucratic structures seemed too cumbersome. Departments were reorganized into self-contained divisions that would market their own services independently. With the fall of the Berlin wall on 9 November 1989 Germany was soon reunited. Lufthansa returned to Berlin. On 28 October 1990, after an absence of exactly 45 years, an aircraft in Lufthansa livery landed at Tegel. Another MRO facility was set up at the Berlin-Schönefeld airport, employing much of the technical staff of the former East-German airline Interflug.
Eye on the future
In the mid-nineties, to keep the Lufthansa Group competitive, it was broken up into seven separate operating divisions. At the end of 1994, shortly before the 40th birthday of Deutsche Lufthansa AG, its former engineering division was converted into an independent stock corporation under the name Lufthansa Technik. The latter’s business with customers outside the Lufthansa Group became its engine of growth. More and more airlines from all over the world began using the services of Lufthansa Technik’s experienced mechanics and engineers. The company opened up a new market with its Total Technical Support (TTS®).
In addition to its competence in commercial aircraft overhaul, Lufthansa Technik is certified as an design organization and also as a manufacturer of aircraft parts. This triple capability endows it with an ever-growing potential for developing new products and services. Since its founding, Lufthansa Technik has become the world’s leading provider of commercial aircraft services. In accordance with the principle “We have to be wherever our customers are”, the company has been expanding internationally. Its presence in the world’s regional air transport markets is the cornerstone of its further development.