Lufthansa Technik AG has been asked by Lufthansa's historic flight foundation Deutsche Lufthansa Berlin-Stiftung (DLBS) to restore a historic Lufthansa aircraft to airworthy condition. A Lockheed L1649A Super Star, which in 1958 became the first long-haul airliner operated by Lufthansa capable of crossing the Atlantic without refuelling, is to take to the air again in 2010 as an unforgettable contributor to Lufthansa tradition. Alongside the Ju 52, which helped to shape the early days of Lufthansa's history, the four-engine Super Star will revive the Lufthansa tradition of the post-war years.
"The Super Star was the culmination of the development of propeller-driven commercial aircraft. In much the same way as the Super Constellation, it epitomises the comeback of commercial aviation in Germany after World War Two," said August W. Henningsen, Chairman of the Lufthansa Technik Executive Board. "Making a Super Star airworthy again is both a special honour and a challenge for Lufthansa Technik. For the enthusiasts among our staff, it will undoubtedly be one of the highlights of their professional career."
As part of its mandate to preserve tradition, DLBS acquired three Lockheed "Super Stars" in good condition at an auction in the U.S. state of Maine on 18 December 2007. A total of only 44 aircraft of this type, bearing the American name "Super Constellation Starliner", were built during the mid-1950s.
In addition to the two former TWA airliners parked in Maine, the former Lufthansa aircraft D-ALAN and numerous spare parts, as well as extensive documentation comprising repair and overhaul manuals were purchased at the auction.
An initial technical assessment of the three historic aircraft by Lufthansa Technik experts revealed that one of them can be restored to airworthy condition. Engines and components of the two other aircraft acquired will be used for the restoration process.
Lufthansa Technik plans to have the restoration work carried out mainly in the USA. Former Lufthansa Technik employees who still remember this aircraft from their days as active professionals, will help with the restoration. Engineers and overhaul specialists from Lufthansa Technik in Hamburg will lead a team of Lufthansa staff and local experts. The overhaul and restoration work is to commence already in the first quarter of 2008.
Lufthansa intends to complete the re-commissioning of the aircraft entirely in the USA, including the acceptance flights and the training of pilots and mechanics, and then to perform the ferry flight to Germany. On arrival, the Super Star is expected to be integrated in DLBS flight operations from 2010 onward, fitted with the historic Lufthansa cabin and sporting the original Lufthansa livery. Probably the most famous historic aircraft operated by Lufthansa Berlin Stiftung is a Junkers Ju 52, which transported more than 8,000 passengers in 2007 alone.
From 1955 to 1967 Lufthansa operated up to seven Super Constellations in its fleet. Back in 1956 the airline ordered four Lockheed L1649A Super Stars - with a wingspan of 45 metres, four Curtiss-Wright 18-cylinder twin-row radial engines each with an output of 2,540 kW, and a fuel capacity of 37,000 litres, which gave it a range of almost 10,000 km carrying a payload of over 3.5 metric tons. It was with the Super Star that Lufthansa introduced its worldwide non-stop long-haul services in 1958, inaugurating the Senator Service at the same time.