New Partnership Seeks to Prepare MRO Workforce for Hydrogen-Powered Aircraft

Credit: Deutsche Aircraft

Deutsche Aircraft is beginning efforts to train future workforce on maintaining hydrogen aircraft platforms. The German OEM, which is working to develop an eco-friendly, upgraded version of the Dornier 328 turboprop, has signed a cooperation agreement with Part 147 maintenance training organization AERO-Bildung to jointly train future aviation mechanics.

“The start of this vocational training program is part of a long-term growth strategy for Deutsche Aircraft,” says Dave Jackson, managing director, Deutsche Aircraft. “During this program, students will learn the ins and outs of the business of aircraft mechanics and test their newly acquired knowledge on state-of-the-art aircraft.”

Jackson says the cooperation will strengthen the connection between Deutsche Aircraft’s two German sites in Oberpfaffenhofen—which is located near AERO-Bildung’s training facility—and Leipzig, where its final assembly line will be located. Outstanding trainees within the program will have the opportunity upon graduation to start their career within Deutsche Aircraft at either site.

The 42-month program will see trainees learning the basics of aircraft maintenance curriculum at AERO-Bildung’s facilities while testing their practical knowledge on physical aircraft at Deutsche Aircraft. According to Deutsche Aircraft, trainees will spend the first two years working on several types of existing aircraft before moving into a specialization area of production technology, maintenance technology or engine technology. During this time they will focus on Deutsche Aircraft’s platforms and, depending on their choice, they will learn how to assemble, maintain and fix these aircraft.

Applications for the program will open in October 2021, with the first cohort of four students expected to start in September 2022. Deutsche Aircraft plans to start a new cohort of four trainees each year between 2023-25 before growing the program steadily in the following years.

According to Nico Neumann, VP operations and programme at Deutsche Aircraft, the vocational training will open the door for top graduates to develop and progress within the company. “We are excited to contribute to training the next generation of aircraft mechanics with the right skills to make our vision, climate neutral flying, a reality,” he adds.

Deutsche Aircraft is targeting 2024 for first flights of its D328eco aircraft. Earlier this year it partnered with several companies to pursue hydrogen flight technology for future aircraft. It is partnering with Universal Hydrogen, which is developing a conversion kit to retrofit existing regional aircraft with a hydrogen-electric powertrain, to study how to incorporate the technology into the Dornier 328 program. It is also working with German startup H2FLY, which develops hydrogen fuel cell systems for aircraft, to convert the Dornier 328 for hydrogen flight.

Deutsche Aircraft says it already has a maintenance team in place to work on its current products, which include the D328 turboprop and jet, and these mechanics will also work on the D328eco. It says it is working in parallel to expand its maintenance workforce with experienced aircraft mechanics.

Lindsay Bjerregaard

Lindsay Bjerregaard is managing editor for Aviation Week’s MRO portfolio. Her coverage focuses on MRO technology, workforce, and product and service news for, Aviation Week Marketplace and Inside MRO.