On February 5, I had the privilege to visit to Lufthansa Technik Component Services (LTCS) in Tulsa, Oklahoma to experience the retirement of an aircraft. Lufthansa’s 737-530, D-ABIB (aka Esslingen) has been removed from the fleet and delivered to LTCS who will disassemble her over the coming weeks.
LTCS is a 100% subsidiary of Lufthansa Technik (LHT), the MRO specialist of Lufthansa Aviation Group. LTCS specializes in commercial aircraft component repair and maintenance services and serves the American market. As a side business LTCS supports the “2nd Life” program of LHT. As part of the program LTCS harvests and overhauls all usable parts and components of Lufthansa aircraft for use in other aircraft as necessary.
I’ll go into more detail on LTCS & their structure in a future post after having a chance to compile my notes and conversations that I had with the LTCS team. Their work is impressive and I want to cover all aspects of their business more thoroughly. I recommend that you follow them on Twitter, @LTCS_MRO , so that you can stay in touch with their work.
Lufthansa is currently going through the process of retiring their entire 737 fleet as they upgrade the fleet with brand new Airbus A319/A320/A321 aircraft and LTCS will be taking care of most of them as they are retired.
There is a bit of irony as far as these 737s are concerned. The 737 would have never been developed by Boeing in the 1960s had it not been for Lufthansa. LH was looking for efficient jet aircraft for regional / medium haul use and actually had to convince Boeing to see their vision. Nearly 8,000 737s later, I’m sure Boeing is glad that they listened to LH! At any moment, there are approximately 1,250 737s in the air around the world. I’m not sure that any other aircraft type can say that.
For now, I want to take a moment and pay tribute to ‘D-ABIB’ as she enters ‘retirement’ after nearly 25 years of service.
This particular 737-530 was completed and delivered to Lufthansa in November of 1990. In April 2004 she was leased to Czech operator SmartWings. After a year with SmartWings, she returned to spend the next 9 years with Lufthansa. Primarily serving European medium haul routes, she was one of 22 737-530s in the LH Fleet as of 2013.
On an unseasonably COLD and WINDY day in Tulsa, most of the LTCS team came out to witness the arrival of D-ABIB. Her arrival was quite a somber moment as everyone knew why she was there and the LTCS crew took pause to appreciate the moment. As aviation enthusiasts we all agreed that it is never enjoyable to watch an aircraft be dismantled and be no more. On the other hand, the retiring of this aircraft will allow other 737-500 to have extended ‘lives’, making D-ABIB literally an organ donor.
Landing at approximately 3:45p on February 5 (apologies for the dust spot on my lens!):
Of course, I had the opportunity to walk around inside and outside ‘Esslingen’ and capture some of her final moments before she becomes an ‘organ donor’ for other Boeing 737-500 aircraft: