MIAMI— What do you do with a Boeing 737-500 coming to the end of its useful commercial life? If you’re Lufthansa, you sell it on to the training arm of your maintenance, repair and overhaul operation.
That’s why the new pride of the Lufthansa Technical Training fleet is a Boeing 737-500, formerly registered D-ABIA, and now dedicated to giving the company’s apprentices and trainees a modern, fully operational aircraft. Manufactured in 1990, D-ABIA flew for 50,623 hours and amassed 45,287 flight cycles, and was handed over to Lufthansa Technical Training earlier this year.
Lufthansa Technical Training was hived off from the Lufthansa Technik MRO (maintenance, repair and overhaul) operator in 1995, and is still a fully-owned subsidiary of Technik, headquartered in the Hanseatic city-state of Hamburg. Over three hundred young people are currently being training at Lufthansa Technical Training, both at its German bases in Frankfurt, Munich and Hamburg, as well as with partners from Canada to Australia, China, the Philippines and across Europe.
LTT Head of Operations Karsten Schmidt is keen to emphasise the benefits of offering practical work on aircraft like D-ABIA alongside theoretical study at vocational college or university.
“Dual-mode training is the backbone of our team’s technical and personal competence. We decided to purchase this aircraft so that we would continue to be able to offer the next generation of specialists the best possible foundation. The fact that this also allows us to preserve an aircraft that is important in the history of Lufthansa is something we are proud of,” Schmidt says
Michael Paarmann, LTT’s Head of Training, concurs:
“With a ‘living’ aircraft, our trainees can gain even greater insights into the connections between various aircraft systems. The conditions of real flight operation offer a perfect environment for them, for example during testing. This aircraft will enable the trainees to identify even more strongly with their training and with flight operations.”
The pride that the Lufthansa Technical Training staff take in their aircraft is readily apparent, enthusiastically leading around a pack of excited aviation journalists asking to see this feature, open that hatch, or crawl into the other space. From explaining how a set of mirrors and a simple red-line allow the crew to check whether landing gear are down, to outlining the systems in a wheel-well or under a hatch, nothing was too much trouble for them as we scampered up and down ladders and poked our noses into D-ABIA.
Inside, the aircraft is outfitted with perhaps the most spacious seat pitch a commercial Boeing 737 has ever seen, with a mixture of regular forward-facing seats and groups of six places facing each other across table — a layout that older readers may well remember as the “party seating” available on certain airlines not too long ago.
This 737-500 can expect a long and happy life with the Lufthansa Technical Training team before perhaps being put out to pasture, as visitors to the Hamburg Airport Days discovered when one of D-ABIA’s training aircraft predecessors, a vintage 707 that is normally on static display near the runway, was opened to the public for walk-through tours.