Germany's relationship with the Airbus A380 goes deeper than the fact that Lufthansa, the German flag carrier, is a proud operator of the aircraft.
The airline's association with the aircraft project dates from the very earliest studies. Lufthansa's input on design helped finalise the size, shape and performance characteristics, particularly on noise. In addition, Lufthansa captain Ulrich Hohl and his colleagues assisted Airbus designers and engineers on the needs of crew rest, and the aircraft's fly-by-wire system.
Another contributor to the quietness of the A380 are the Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines, which produce 30 per cent less noise than comparable models, in addition to their fuel efficiency and low emissions.
These engines are maintained at the N3 Engine Services facility at Erfurt, two hours by road from Frankfurt Airport. This facility, jointly-managed by Lufthansa Technik and Rolls-Royce, maintains all the Trent engines in Lufthansa service, in addition to those of some other operators. In Lufthansa's case, this means its Trent 500s for the A340-600, Trent 700s for the A330-300 and Trent 900s for the A380 go to N3, supporting Lufthansa's policy of maintaining most of its engine fleet in-house, often through the Lufthansa Technik capability.
The Trent 500 was the first member of the Trent family to enter service with Lufthansa – it is the only engine available for the A340-600 – but the first selection of the Trent by the airline, was the Trent 900 powering the A380.
'Where we had a choice, we liked the look of the aircraft/engine combination of the A330-300 and the Trent 700 and started a trend on the A330 that many airlines have followed,' says Nico.
'We follow the standard rules for looking at aircraft and engines – they have to be fit for purpose,' says Nico. These rules encompass economics, range, comfort, performance, environment and sustainability. 'The aircraft has to be capable of operating for many years in many and ever changing markets.
'A commitment to an aircraft could last 40 years but age is not a reason to retire an aircraft,' says Nico, quoting the example of the A320/A321 family, which entered service 20 years ago 'and we are still buying them.'
Today's A320, although basically the same as the original, is no longer comparable because of the new technology that has been introduced.'
Four years ago, an A380 landed in Frankfurt for the first time. Today, A380s operated by Lufthansa take-off from Frankfurt nearly every day.