How do you make the Airbus A380, the world’s largest airliner, look small? Put it into the Lufthansa Technik Hangar in Frankfurt Germany that’s how. While in Frankfurt for a 24 hour spiel to celebrate Lufthansa’s first Airbus A380 flight from Frankfurt to Miami, I had a chance to go check out where maintenance is done on the A380.
At the time, I have seen the A380 at a distance and even got to tour the inside. But this was my first opportunity to walk around the aircraft on the outside. It is surreal how tall it is standing next to it, but how at theÂ same timeÂ it is so close to the ground. I am 6’1″ tall and my head was touching the bottom of the aircraft when taking the photo above. Closer towards the main landing gear, there is even less head room. From ground to tail, the A380 is about eight stories tall and just the fuselage is about three.
Lufthansa Technik Group is compiled of 30 companies world-wide that help keep Lufthansa and many other aircraft operational. Lufthansa Technik has the ability to perform checks at 60 airports around the world and they are organized into six different operational groups which serve about 750 customers worldwide: Maintenance, Overhaul, Component Services, Engine Services, VIP Services and Landing Gear Services.
Before Lufthansa took delivery of their first Airbus A380, two large facilities were built for Lufthansa Technik to handle the new aircraft. One was in Frankfurt and the other is located in Beijing. The facility in Frankfurt was completed in December of 2007 and measures about 590 x 460 feet. The hangar is large enough to hold two Airbus A380s and one Dreamlifter as was proven not too long ago.
Obviously the Airbus A380 can hold a lot of fuel — about 85,000 gallons worth. Unlike most other aircraft, no fuel is stored in the fuselage and it is all stored in the wings. During the tour I was wondering how I had dripping water on my head and realized that I was being rained on via the condensation from the fuel tanks in the wings.
Buying the aircraft and building the hangar is just part of the process. Lufthansa Technik also had to get the tools, parts and people to make it complete. The facility has more than 70,000 parts in their inventory ranging from screws to engines. Outside the hangar there is a jet testing area, which was in use during our visit (but could not take photos since it was a non-Lufthansa aircraft).
During the tour of the facility we were able to get on board D-AIMG to take a look around. Since I was about to take a 10 hour flight in an A380 in a few hours, I decided to hang out more in the front of the aircraft by the cockpit. Lufthansa’s A380 are designed so there is an external door that leads to a crew sleeping area and lavatory for the flight crew. The crew rest area was actually the largest I have seen in an aircraft and didn’t feel as claustrophobic as others.
Some folks think first class is the best seat in the house. Although they are nice, they cannot compare to the seats in the cockpit. The cockpit is very roomy and it is hard to get a feeling of the true size of the aircraft. The flight deck is located in the middle of the aircraft, which doesn’t give it the sense of height that the cockpit in the Boeing 747-400 has.