Germany’s Lufthansa eyes protection sector – DW – 06/16/2024 | EUROtoday

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What was thought of nearly unthinkable years in the past is now being mirrored within the job marketplace for army plane upkeep.

There’s such a necessity for army plane upkeep consultants that corporations like Lufthansa Technik (LHT) are going to nice lengths to coach and retrain staff from outdoors the business. These new consultants usually come from suppliers whose jobs have develop into out of date because of the swap to electrical autos.

“Lufthansa Technik, for example, is recruiting mechatronics engineers from the automotive sector in its search for specialists,” aviation skilled Heinrich Grossbongardt instructed DW. “They have a good education and are being retrained as aircraft mechanics.”

Prompted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, investments price billions in new plane are creating new enterprise areas — or giving established corporations a brand new enhance. That applies to Lufthansa Technik, which lately based the LHT Defense subdivision.

LHT is the upkeep and restore subsidiary of Germany’s flag service, Lufthansa. According to its personal data, it serves greater than 800 clients worldwide and has greater than 20,000 staff.

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Turning level for Lufthansa

“If I think back 10 years, this would have been almost unimaginable at Lufthansa Technik, let alone in the Lufthansa Group, if you consider things like the environmental, social and governance ranking, the evaluation of large companies in terms of sustainability,” mentioned Grossbongardt. “Defense was actually always a no-go.”

For a long time after the tip of World War II and the collapse of the Nazi regime, something military-related was frowned upon in massive elements of German society. Although German armaments know-how was in demand overseas, it was a contentious difficulty in German politics and society.

This modified with the onset of Russia’s battle in Ukraine and the German authorities’s announcement that it will make investments €100 billion to strengthen the German army.

“Of course, we are also experiencing a reassessment here,” mentioned Grossbongardt, “And that’s why this is no longer a negative issue for Lufthansa from a Group perspective.”

Two men working on a jet turbine
Lufthansa Technik is branching out and hoping to safe offers for the upkeep of army planeImage: Marcus Brandt/dpa/image alliance

The first step entails the upkeep of 5 Boeing P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol plane, which the German Navy ordered on the finish of June 2021. Alongside the US, Australia, India, the UK, Norway, South Korea and New Zealand, Germany is the eighth buyer to place the Boeing Poseidon into service this previous winter.

Civilian know-how for army pilots

“These aircraft are essentially civilian Boeing 737s, i.e. completely normal commercial aircraft into which military systems have been installed,” mentioned Grossbongardt. And Lufthansa, he identified, has a variety of expertise within the upkeep of those Boeing 737s.

“The question was asked very early on: ‘Who can do this in Germany?’ And there’s no getting around Lufthansa Technik, especially as it is already involved through the maintenance and outfitting of German government aircraft.”

It is smart, he mentioned, for the Bundeswehr and for Germany to get entangled in upkeep, including that it will be rather more costly if the Bundeswehr have been to construct up these capacities from scratch and fill up on the required spare elements.

“Lufthansa can simply draw on what it already has, and it also makes sense for the airline because it ultimately creates jobs in Hamburg,” mentioned Grossbongardt.

A Boeing P-8 Poseidon aircraft from the US Navy flies during an international aerial exhibition
Lufthansa Technik is finishing up upkeep work on the US Navy’s Poseidon patrol planeImage: JON NAZCA/REUTERS

Internationally, he mentioned, Lufthansa Technik enjoys a superb fame.

“As the Americans like to say, LHT is the 800-pound gorilla in the commercial aircraft maintenance market,” he mentioned. “This means that Lufthansa Technik is one of the world’s absolute leaders in the field of technical support for commercial aircraft, engines and all components. Nobody can get past them that easily.”

Helicopters additionally on the radar

In mid-May, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius visited the US protection firm Boeing in Philadelphia, which, along with the order for the Poseidon naval plane, has additionally obtained an order for 60 CH-47F Chinook heavy transport helicopters from Germany. Lufthansa additionally desires to get entangled within the upkeep and spare elements procurement enterprise.

In addition, LHT desires to take part within the upkeep of the 35 F-35 stealth bombers ordered by the German Air Force from US producer Lockheed.

And when NATO replaces its AWACS radar plane with the brand new E-7 kind over the following few years, LHT CEO Sören Stark believes there’s a good probability the corporate won’t solely get entangled within the upkeep enterprise for the E-7.

“Understanding and supporting new aircraft and their technology in the shortest possible time has been part of our DNA for decades,” Stark instructed the enterprise every day Handelsblatt. “We could also carry out the modification of civil Boeing 737s into NATO E-7 aircraft in Hamburg in close coordination with Boeing.”

Jobs for specialists in Germany

This new chapter for LHT supplies a spread of recent openings and alternatives. This time, the brand new jobs won’t be created at Lufthansa Technik areas in Malta, Sofia or Manila, however in Germany.

Germany presents plan to spice up army reserves

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Bidding for the upkeep of the brand new NATO radar plane can also be a sensible transfer, from Grossbongardt’s standpoint. Here, too, LHT can put its expertise with a typical civilian Boeing jet to good use.

“The successor model, the E-7 Wedgetail, is based on the civilian Boeing 737. And once I have my foot in the door there, there is further potential in other areas regarding NATO,” mentioned the aviation skilled.

LHT’s Stark has formidable plans. Turnover is ready to extend from €6.5 billion ($7 billion) to greater than €10 billion by 2030 and he desires to extend earnings from just below €630 million to over €1 billion. While these targets are formidable, they aren’t unrealistic.

“I see very good opportunities for Lufthansa Technik to act as prime contractor for the US-based programs,” aviation marketing consultant Michael Santo from the consulting agency H&Z was quoted as saying in Handelsblatt.

Grossbongardt thinks it is unlikely LHT would transcend upkeep work on army plane know-how and engines sooner or later. “Lufthansa Technik will never go into weapons technology, it has no expertise in that area,” he mentioned.

Instead, he expects LHT to convey companions on board for this space.

“Lufthansa Technik would then be the main contractor and take care of the engine and aircraft. And everything that has to do with weapons electronics, weapons and radar systems would be handled by a partner,” he mentioned.

This article was initially written in German.