Coolest Layover in FRA(not another FCT TR)

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by thefitworldtraveler, Mar 31, 2013.  |  Print Topic

  1. thefitworldtraveler
    Original Member

    thefitworldtraveler Silver Member

    Messages:
    72
    Likes Received:
    123
    Status Points:
    370
    This is for all the aviation geeks in the house!

    Last year I met a pilot for LH who offered to show me around the Lufthansa Tecnik facility, which is Lufthansa’s division responsible for the maintenance of their aircraft. I had a repositioning flight transiting through FRA to take advantage of the RGN mistake fare. So with about 12 hours on ground time in FRA, it proved to be just enough time. My pilot friend made all the arrangements needed for my visit.

    The day started at gate 20 which is the entry point where all pilots and FA enter for their pre-flight briefing. We grabbed a coffee and sat down at one of the available LAN connections for an explanation of his pre-flight rituals. This involved an explanation of weather reports, fuel loads, maximum take-off weight, and air routes. The last one answered a curiosity I’ve had: I’ve always wondered why pilots choose a certain airport when they need to divert. It’s actually part of their flight plan based on their calculated fuel loads.

    After his crash course, it was off to the maintenance facility. Upon entering the gated area to the maintenance facility, we both had to check-in to confirm that we were here for our appointed time. I was given a visitors badge and a sea-foam green vest. Then we had to clear a security check point, very similar to the check points we’re used to at airports. After clearing, it was brief walk outside to the maintenance hangar.

    The massive hangar was mostly empty. There were three aircrafts, an A340 and two 737s. We walked alongside the wall of the hangar to the maintenance office to obtain permission to walk around and enter the aircraft.

    [​IMG]
    A340

    We walked around the A340 first. My pilot friend then explained his pre-flight external inspection of the aircraft. It was just an awesome experience being up close to an aircraft.

    [​IMG]
    A340 Looking AFT

    We then entered the aircraft and I took a seat in the co-pilots chair, which was pretty cool! It was my first time getting the “driver’s” seat view of the plane. My pilot friend began explaining the instrument clusters including turning on some of the displays. The A340 is entirely fly-by-wire so it doesn’t have column, but joysticks adjacent to the seats.

    [​IMG]
    Driver's seat view from the A340

    [​IMG]
    Me Sitting in the cockpit

    [​IMG]
    Business Class
     
    Mikus33, TravelBear, Gargoyle and 9 others like this.
  2. thefitworldtraveler
    Original Member

    thefitworldtraveler Silver Member

    Messages:
    72
    Likes Received:
    123
    Status Points:
    370
    We then headed off to another hangar where maintenance on 747 took place. This hangar was much busier as it had six 747s, including one from Virgin Atlantic. I speculate Lufthansa had some kind of maintenance contract with VS.

    Again we walked to the maintenance office to obtain permission as to which aircraft we could enter. The foreman and my pilot friend spoke German, but I could understand the “Victor,” “Lima,” and “Romeo” as they were the last two characters of the registration number of the aircraft. These were the two aircraft we could enter.

    [​IMG]
    View from one of the exit doors

    [​IMG]
    Another view from the exit doors

    [​IMG]
    747 cockpit


    We entered the first one and walked up to the flight deck, but it was taped off to prevent any inadvertent movement of the columns since they are hydraulic. We couldn’t sit down in the seats themselves, which was a shame because my pilot friend is qualified on the 747 and could explain a lot more than he could on the A340.

    [​IMG]
    Upper Deck on the 747, Look Familiar?

    After leaving the maintenance facilities, we went off to tour the flight simulators where pilots practice different scenarios should they occur in real life. We obtained permission to enter one 737 simulator because it was not used. I don’t have any pictures as they were not allowed in the building. I can’t really speculate why, but I just followed their rules. The 737 look exactly like they look in a cockpit of a real plane. They use the same parts right down to the circular air vents, needless to say, the flight simulators are expensive. Another thing I learned: these flight simulators are in constant use not only by Lufthansa pilots, but by other airline pilots who may have a few days on the ground in FRA after a long haul flight.

    [​IMG]

    After we departed ways because he was heading off on holidays and I headed to the lounge for a shower and to catch up a few e-mails.

    As someone working the in engineering field, I’ve seen my share of manufacturing floors and ship yard facilities. Though I don’t have any other airlines for comparison, the Lufthansa maintenance facilities were much cleaner than any other shipyard or manufacturing floor that I’ve seen. The office space in hangars was organized with binders/charts neatly organized and not haphazardly disorganized. The hanger themselves were not dingy or grimy like an automotive garage that we’ve all known when we’re at the mercy of them to fix our cars. The actual hangar floor was clean from any visible spills and free of any cement patch work.

    As a traveler, I never see the maintenance side of an airline. This was a fortunate opportunity for me and served as a reminder how compliance and procedures play a crucial role in safety. It’s an amazing feat that passengers time and time again can get in a plane and be on the other side of the world in 16 hours safely all thanks for the crew that fly the planes AND to the people on the ground tending to the maintenance schedule of the aircraft.

    My pilot friend takes great pride working for Lufthansa. He boasts about how the airline truly emphasizes safety with adherence to operational procedures. Though, I don’t have any other comparison, their pilots have the discretion to make decisions to ensure the safety of the flight rather than people in the front office driven by business decisions, which bodes well with me as a traveler. Often times, people(including myself) get carried away of “needing” lie-flat seats and fail to realize the intricate behind the scenes operations to ensure safety. This little tour served as a window into the operations side of an airline and no matter where I’m sitting on the aircraft, I know I’m sitting safely to my destination.
     
    Mikus33, Fredrik, Gargoyle and 13 others like this.
  3. ducster
    Original Member

    ducster Gold Member

    Messages:
    977
    Likes Received:
    2,003
    Status Points:
    1,145
    Absolutely spectacular- thanks for sharing!
     
  4. Mapsmith
    Original Member

    Mapsmith Gold Member

    Messages:
    2,930
    Likes Received:
    7,696
    Status Points:
    6,570
    Thanks for an informative "trip report"
     
  5. BothofUs

    BothofUs Silver Member

    Messages:
    22
    Likes Received:
    28
    Status Points:
    165
    This was pretty cool, great pictures!
     
    Gargoyle likes this.
  6. imran

    imran New Member

    Messages:
    1
    Likes Received:
    1
    Status Points:
    10
    Thanks for sharing. Fabulous stuff.
     
    Gargoyle likes this.
  7. NYBanker
    Original Member

    NYBanker Gold Member

    Messages:
    32,725
    Likes Received:
    191,901
    Status Points:
    20,020
    Great report.

    A notable clean factory to compare to is the auto factory in Maranello. Spotless.
     
    Gargoyle likes this.
  8. briantoronto
    Original Member

    briantoronto Gold Member

    Messages:
    4,335
    Likes Received:
    1,988
    Status Points:
    1,420
    Interesting report! I am envious of your opportunity.

    Thanks for sharing.
     
  9. ariosto

    ariosto Silver Member

    Messages:
    103
    Likes Received:
    154
    Status Points:
    360
    Awesome Experience thanks for sharing such cool PiCs
     
    Gargoyle likes this.

Share This Page