Outside of Russia and the Ukraine, Poland is by far the most populous nation in Eastern Europe, with 38 million people, double fourth-place Romania’s 19 million. Yet Poland has not always played so strong a role in aircraft maintenance. That may be starting to change. In early May, LOT Aircraft Maintenance Services (LOTAMS) opened its first permanent line maintenance base outside Poland, at Budapest’s Ferenc Liszt International Airport.
The new station will start by supporting LOT Polish Airlines’ Boeing 787. “As our base in Budapest expands and capabilities grow, we will add other types and broaden our offer to complement our local partner, Aeroplex,” explains Commercial VP Rafał Momot. “In the not-so-distant future, we plan to extend our services to operators flying Embraers.”
Momot expects that over time, non-LOT airlines will receive the majority of LOTAMS support in Budapest. And the Polish shop is looking beyond Budapest. “We keep a keen eye on the market and… we will be offering our services in new sites in the future,” Momot predicts.
LOTAMS plans to stick with line support at foreign stations for the near future. Heavy checks can be done for LOT in Warsaw and for other carriers by Aeroplex in Budapest. But Momot says he is looking at opportunities to expand in Poland and does not exclude the possibility of doing heavy checks outside Poland eventually.
LOTAMS employs almost a thousand staff, and one of the MRO’s most important challenges is finding, recruiting and training new staff. It cooperates closely with Poland’s technical schools, sponsors classes that train mechanics and has an apprentice program. Momot says the Polish government is trying to “restore technical education in Poland.”
LOTAMS’ apprentice program is fully paid and lasts up to two years. The first half of each year is spent in workshops and the second half in hangars working on aircrafts. The MRO also organizes summer training sessions, educational workshops and hangar tours to explain maintenance careers to prospective employees and their teachers.