“Proud of being part of a historic task”
In late August, a team from Lufthansa Technik AG – supported by Germany’s Federal Foreign Office – started to expertly disassemble the Lufthansa Boeing 737-200 D-ABCE “Landshut” in the Brazilian city of Fortaleza and prepare it for transportation to Germany. Today the aircraft arrived in Friedrichshafen near Lake Constance having been delivered “by airmail” on an Antonov An-124 and an Ilyushin IL-76. There it will be brought to its new home at the Dornier Museum and put on display for the public as an important part of German history.
On 22 August, a team of fifteen Lufthansa Technik experts began working on the project. The first major steps consisted of disassembling the engines and the horizontal and vertical stabilizers. After jacking the aircraft up, the team was also able to remove the landing gear. The final and most complex step of the disassembly was tackled on 13 September, when work began on separating the left wing from the fuselage. At the same time, preparations were made for the aircraft’s transportation. The project team was frequently accompanied by the media and also welcomed high-ranking visitors from the diplomatic and consular corps.
“We are all proud of being part of the historic task of bringing this aircraft, which plays such an important role in Germany’s history, back home,” says Martin Brandes, who managed the “Landshut” project at Lufthansa Technik. On 13 October 1977, four Palestinian terrorists hijacked the Boeing 737-200 D-ABCE “Landshut” during what became known as the German Autumn. On 18 October 1977, the hijacking was successfully brought to an end in Mogadishu by the special task force GSG-9. The aircraft was operated by Lufthansa until 1985 and then sold in the United States. After being passed on to several other owners, it was finally taken out of operation in Fortaleza in 2008, standing at the edge of the airport ever since.
“Four thousand exciting, challenging, but also fascinating hours of work lie behind us. Spending hour after hour removing rivets from the wing while being upside down and exposed to a temperature of over 50°C isn’t exactly everyone’s dream job. But we all had the motivation needed to get the job done. After all, you don’t get the chance to participate in a project like that twice,” says Martin Brandes, describing the enthusiasm of the team.
“We were working in an environment that was characterized by a unique combination of perfect aeronautical engineering, complete improvisation and Brazilian humour,” explains project coordinator Lisa Hafemann when asked about the challenges she faced during her planning on site. The trained aircraft mechanic spent every free minute lending a hand with the disassembly as well. “Once learnt, never forgotten. The motivation to work on an aircraft never leaves you.”
The team also got support from the entire Lufthansa Group, for example from Lufthansa Cargo, which helped transport the extensive equipment, or from LSG Sky Chefs. Lufthansa Technik Logistik Services organized the transport and shipping. And Condor also offered spontaneous help with handling the transports. “It’s a given that we would want to help out on a project like that,” says Johannes Winter, Head of Corporate Communications at Thomas Cook Group Airlines.