The fascination earth and airspace

Michael (or Michi for short) Sauter is Senior Product Owner for Aeronautical Data. He is responsible for shaping the future of the aeronautical data product portfolio within our Lido Domain. In his spare time, Michi likes to be outdoors – typical for geographers –, and to play floorball in a club which he founded – not so typical for geographers.

How long have you been working for Lufthansa Systems?

After starting my professional career at the Verkehrsbetriebe Zurich, a public transport operator in Switzerland, I joined Lufthansa Systems as a specialist in Geographic Information Sciences or GIS in Zurich in 2012. Over the next few years I was promoted to Head of GIS and Data Management, Head of Data Standards and Product Owner for Lido SurfaceData. A couple of months ago, in September 2018 I was appointed Senior Product Owner for Aeronautical Data.


You specialized in Geographic Information Sciences. What does a science dealing with the earth’s surface have to do with aviation?

Geographic information systems are used for the collection, processing, organization, analysis and presentation of spatial data. Let us take Lido SurfaceData as an example. Our solution covers over one million obstacles worldwide, including enroute and aerodrome obstacles. High antennas, towers and cranes are typical examples of these obstacles. They are on the surface of the earth and pose a potential difficulty for air traffic. Thus, by providing this highly accurate data, geographers are able to improve flight safety and situational awareness for airborne and ground operations.


What is your favorite part of being the Senior Product Owner for Aeronautical Data at Lufthansa Systems?

I can actively shape the future of the Lido data domain and the Lido data products, and work together in a team with both colleagues and external partners to explore all kinds of spatial data.


With Lido SurfaceData you won an award back in 2017. How was that?

Yes, we won the German Mobility Award 2017 which was really a great honor. Especially because we had just launched the product a few months earlier. The jury said they wanted to award us for our contribution to increasing pilots’ situational awareness and therefore making the overall air traffic safer. Since the product has been such a success, we even decided to extend its capabilities by partnering up with Intermap Technologies to launch the Lido SurfaceData NEXTView, a next generation terrain data product.


What does an enthusiast in geography and aviation do in his spare time?

I do a lot of outdoor activities, such as snowboarding, mountain biking, hiking and surfing. Working in aviation I of course also enjoy traveling around the world. Something that is maybe a bit less expected from a data expert is that I like to play indoor sports (floorball) in a club which I founded 15 years ago.