XEOS facility Lufthansa Technik

XEOS Should Relieve Pressure on GEnx Capacity

Lufthansa-GE JV gaps good labor market with attractive rates and good logistics

Lufthansa Technik’s and GE’s new XEOS engine shop in Sroda Slaska, Poland, has already inducted 14 GEnx-2Bs and redelivered two, according to CEO Thomas Boettger. His target is inducting 22 in 2019, 56 in 2020, then ramping up to 85, 100 and 200 annual inductions in the following years. Boettger says this planned volume is the result of both capacity considerations and estimated demand for overhauls of the engine, with recognition that there are other shops working on the giant GE powerplant.

The partners chose Sroda Slaska for several reasons. Logistics were convenient for trucking the engines in from major airports like Frankfurt or Amsterdam, where Boeing 747s or 777s can transport the engines. The Polish city is only 140 km from the German border and a five- to six-hour drive from Frankfurt. Northwest of Warsaw, the Polish city is much closer to Hamburg than Munich.

The location also gives XEOS access to a skilled workforce and a good university for recruiting mechanics at attractive labor rates, and there was a good support package for the facility. Customs and border crossing should be no problem, except for any friction arising from Brexit, as Poland is part of the EU. Boettger does not expect any engines to come in from the east as there are no nearby airports regularly served by the widebodies necessary to transport GEnx-2Bs.

XEOS started off with a core of about two dozen highly experienced LHT mechanics, but has now expanded to 300, with recruits taken from all over Poland and elsewhere. The MRO takes workers with some technical training, not necessarily in aviation, and puts them through 15-18 months of training for engine work, a short version of LHT’s training program in Germany. After training in English, engine work, human factors and other subjects, successful students are given their licenses.

XEOS will use a SAP system to create electronic task cards with links to a set of easy work steps and supporting electronic sign-offs. “It’s pretty fancy,” Boettger says, noting that the system is not yet used in other LHT shops. FLYdocs, owned by LHT, can convert customer documents in any form to the required standards. 

XEOS does not yet have its own test cell so it had to send its first engine to GE Caledonian, and turnaround time was 130 days, instead of 120 days it would have taken with testing in Poland. XEOS will get its own test cell in the spring of 2020, and its ultimate target is 85 days turnaround time including testing.

The shop is not yet doing full restoration overhauls on the GEnx-2Bs--instead it is focusing on quick-turn work, which does not require opening all of the modules, and upgrades to improve fuel burn. The full overhauls will start to come in the next few years. XEOS expects to be able to do initial overhaul work on GE9Xs in March 2022. “All of our facilities are designed for the biggest commercial engine,” Boettger says.

Other shops have been working on GEnx-2Bs or -1Bs, so XEOS should take some pressure off shop capacity in the market. The XEOS CEO says his supply chain for -2B parts has been alright so far. XEOS will draw from a centrally managed inventory of materials rather than stock and own its own rotables.

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