The flying Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) has arrived at Lufthansa Technik in Hamburg for scheduled maintenance work, a press release said Monday (November 20, 2017). SOFIA is a modified Boeing 747SP and a joint project of the U.S. space agency NASA and the German Aerospace Center (DLR). The German SOFIA Institute (DSI) at the University of Stuttgart co-ordinates the observatory’s operation in Germany. A so-called C-check will be undertaken by Lufthansa Technik’s experts in the VIP and Special Mission Aircraft Services division.
Maintenance according to NASA regulations
A C-check involves the biggest regularly scheduled maintenance event for an aircraft other than a complete overhaul and will be carried out according to NASA regulations. The aircraft’s structure will be thoroughly inspected and repaired where necessary. SOFIA has been extensively modified for its scientific task. Special electronic systems have been added as well as a four by six-meter door in the fuselage for the telescope.
Lufthansa Technik – Europe’s only certified company
In 2014, SOFIA underwent a major overhaul (D-check) at Lufthansa Technik in Hamburg. Heinz-Theo Hammes, SOFIA Project Manager at DLR, said: “Then as now, Lufthansa Technik’s extensive experience with Boeing 747SP aircraft was the decisive factor. We are glad to return the aircraft to the experienced hands of Lufthansa Technik.” Only few Boeing 747SP (Special Performance) aircraft are still in service worldwide. In Europe, Lufthansa Technik is the only company certified to carry out technical work on this type of aircraft. Sven Hatje, Project Manager at Lufthansa Technik, said: “It’s a very special opportunity for all of us to work on this outstanding and technologically sophisticated aircraft.”
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