We are currently out and about in Varel chasing up a hot topic! What happens when the pilot is sitting in the airplane just before take-off and a technical defect occurs?
The solution is simple: He or she calls the thyssenkrupp Aerospace team in Varel on a special line and says the code word AOG (Aircraft on Ground). It does not matter whether the airplane is in London, Istanbul, or Mumbai. All the action takes place in Varel because the suitable replacement part may still have to be manufactured here.
One hydraulic mount to Bremen, please
All kinds of airplane replacement parts are regularly requested from Varel, from seat rails and pneumatic cylinders (I looked it up: “A device that uses compressed gas to generate motion”) right through to loose screws. A big event surrounding a tiny silver ring occurs during our shoot. This holds the hydraulic hose in place that moves the wing flaps. It may not sound that exciting but we are ensured that it does not get much bigger than this: The airplane would crash without it.
Starting with the base material, i.e., the slab, the ring begins to take shape after a few hours following pre-manufacturing, surface machining, sawing, milling, finishing, coating, engraving, quality control, and packing. Then I’m in for a surprise as the local taxi company is summoned to drive the ring directly to Bremen airport. A taxi? Luckily I’m allowed to sit in the front.
Taxi to Athens
The taxi driver is relaxed and I imagine he has made this trip countless times. He regales me with stories of driving replacement parts to Toulouse and England. However, shortly before arriving in Bremen, he pulls out something entirely different from his repertoire: “I don’t just deliver replacement parts for airplanes. Once I drove all the way to Athens. We first drove for 22 hours then spent 14 hours on the ferry. It was for a family who had to go to a baptism in Greece.”
I’m sure that we would have heard even more exciting tales from our driver if we hadn’t arrived at Bremen airport by then. Sometimes there is still time for the parts to be dispatched on a scheduled flight. When time is tight, the airline provides its own airplane especially for dispatch. However, we’re not pushed for time today and the ring can fly economy.
Maybe we should have secretly taken a hydraulic hose ring on our trip around the world. I would be a step ahead of the employees in Varel for once if a technical defect were to occur on one of our flights.