Austrian Airlines: Aircraft maintenance made in Austria


• Use of innovative drone technology for technical fleet inspections
• Austrian Airlines trains aviation experts of the future
• COO Francesco Sciortino: “Always keeping our finger on the pulse and our high safety standards are our claim”
• Under Secretary Magnus Brunner: “AUA technology and in-house training workshops are essential factors for aviation safety, value creation and innovation”

During the corona pandemic, international air traffic came to a standstill. A large part of the world’s 25,000 commercial aircrafts was grounded all of a sudden – including the Austrian Airlines fleet. More than one year later, 46 medium-haul and seven long-haul aircraft out of 73 aircrafts are again in operation as of the end of July 2021, with which Austrian Airlines handles its extensive summer flight offering. Austrian Technik is responsible for the technical fitness of the aircraft, both during reactivation from the grounding caused by corona and during daily operations. A large part of this work is done in the maintenance hangar at Vienna International Airport, which Austrian Under Secretary Magnus Brunner visited today.

Aircraft maintenance is strictly regulated by authorities, manufacturers and operators. These range from pre-flight checks, daily and weekly functional checks, to so-called A-checks, which are mandatory every 350 to 650 flying hours. In addition, a comprehensive inspection takes place every 12 to 18 months, which can take between one and three weeks and requires a workload of about 5,000 staff-hours.

Around 200 staff-hours required for reactivation from storage
Even during the grounding caused by corona, the technicians had plenty of work, because regular functional tests are also required for parked aircraft., About 30 staff-hours are required when an Airbus 320 is taken out of storage. When it is reactivated from storage, the same aircraft that has been in deep sleep for several months requires a greater effort of around 200 staff-hours. When reactivating the aircraft, first all covers are removed, wheels and brakes are tested, and auxiliary power units and engines are started. In addition to a check of the hydraulic fluids, all control surfaces and flaps, a functional test is also carried out in the cockpit. In addition, Austrian Airlines has introduced an Aircraft Readiness Check, which simulates a flight on the ground and checks all systems again in detail. “Austrian Airlines’ technology is an essential factor for aviation safety, value creation and innovation. I was able to see for myself today that the aircraft maintenance team does a highly professional job,” said Under Secretary Magnus Brunner during his visit to the maintenance hangar.

Austrian Airlines uses innovative drone technology for aircraft checks
Since 2019, autonomous drones support Austrian Airlines in its technical checks by developed by the French start-up “Donecle”. The drones are currently in the evaluation and development phase. To check the aircraft for paint and structural damage laser technology is used. “Safety and always keeping our finger on the pulse are our claims. The drone technology supports us in continuing to ensure our high standards and the technical reliability of the Austrian Airlines fleet,” says Francesco Sciortino. Innovation not only eases work for the technicians, but the shorter duration of the check – less than two hours instead of up to ten hours previously – also ensures faster availability of the aircraft in daily operations.
In the current test phase, the drone checks are limited to the Airbus fleet. They are to be extended to Embraer aircrafts in the next step.

Aviation experts of the future are trained in the training workshop
Austrian Airlines Technik employs around 850 people, of whom almost 75 work in maintenance and almost 700 in aircraft servicing. Austrian Airlines is also training aviation experts of the future. “In fact, Austrian Airlines is one of the few companies in Austria in which aircraft technician training can be completed at the company’s own training workshop. This strengthens the Vienna Airport hub” says COO Francesco Sciortino. Austrian Airlines is currently training 34 apprentices in mechatronics, aircraft technology and office management. The aircraft technician apprenticeship, which can also be combined with a higher education entrance qualification (“Matura”), takes 3.5 years and includes practical on-the-job training, theoretical education in the vocational school as well as internal and external specialist seminars (e.g. “Technical English”).

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