25 years and ready to solve new challenges!
The new decade started quite promising for Lufthansa Systems as we kicked off 2020 with our 25th anniversary. Unfortunately, within a few weeks the world has turned upside down and we are learning now how to deal with a completely new reality. Read about the experiences and challenges our colleague Andreas Medlhammer is currently facing.
We have interviewed various colleagues from all over the world to find out about their experience in the company in the past years and how these learnings will be a key to navigate successfully through the current Corona challenge.
In this edition, Andreas Medlhammer, Product Owner Pilot Charting Applications, answered our questions about his career at Lufthansa Systems and about the challenges he is facing during the pandemic. Read here his insights on how he and his team supported airlines with repatriation flights and the transport of protective equipment.
1. How did you first learn about Lufthansa Systems? Can you still remember your first working day?
I applied for the position of “Aeronautical Chart Specialist”, advertised in Frankfurt, where I used to live. I was rather surprised when I received an invitation for an interview in Zurich – had never been in Switzerland before.
My first working day was the 1st of December 2005, and I was onboarded by a colleague that is now a pilot at Swiss. Today, more than 14 years later, I am a Swiss citizen, enjoy direct democracy and I’m still improving my skiing.
2. Analog instead of digital? How has your work changed over the last 25 years? What was different in the past?
I started at Lufthansa Systems before there were smartphones or tablets. At that time, EFBs were running on laptops or rugged computers. Nevertheless, our products were already visionary. I remember manually “highlighting” procedures in our charting tool in order to have a single procedure displayed together with their relevant procedure text in our EFB app – this was revolutionary at the time and is still a unique selling point for the Lido eRoute Manual. Our main competitor doesn’t offer this feature and starting in summer it will also be available in the Lido mPilot.
3. What is the most interesting project that you have so far worked on at Lufthansa Systems?
The most exciting project I have worked so far was the Connected FMS together with GE aviation. A door that was closed – writing to aircraft systems – finally opened.
Receiving and sending data from and to the Flight Management Computer opens a door for significantly simplified and safer processes on the flight deck. Lufthansa Systems was the first to publically display a working prototype that was very well received in the industry.
4. The COVID-19 pandemic has an immense impact on the airline industry. To what extent is the crisis affecting your current position?
In our apps, the airport library of an airline has all the information pilots need to fly to the destinations they operate on a regular basis.
Suddenly, with the pandemic, the situation is completely different, with a wave of short-term requests for repatriation and cargo flights. Instead of operating on the regular route network, exotic destinations were added, such as New Zealand for Lufthansa or Shanghai for Aerolineas Argentinas. The challenge was to provide all necessary information for the flights within a short time, including new charts that were not previously available in the library.
5. In times of severe travel restrictions, how do you keep contact with your colleagues and partners?
As product owner, contact with our users such as pilots and EFB administrators is crucial. Until the beginning of the year, the most intensive exchanges usually took place at forums and industry events. Unfortunately, these physical events have been suspended until further notice. Now it is more important than ever not to lose touch. We are compensating with virtual alternatives, such as regular online meetings and the virtual edition of our Lido User Group Conference (LUG) planned for September.
6. Last but not least, we want to use this occasion as an opportunity to look ahead: What changes and challenges can be expected in the near future? Where do you see the industry in six months from now? One year?
The current situation is unprecedented and this fact makes it difficult to foresee how long the spread of the virus will hold back the airline industry. Fortunately, protective measures seem to show their effects and we are seeing positive results across the world. In my opinion, if there were cheap and easy-to-handle Corona tests available, air travel would start up faster than we could imagine. Starting this month there will be more flights, so let’s see how it continues. In any case, we are in this together and will get out of it together.