Germany 9th – 11th November 2022
The trip with friends, Mike, Colin & John commenced when they picked me up from home and we travelled to London-Heathrow.
The flying began with a flight with British Airways from London-Heathrow (LHR) to München (MUC) on an Airbus A320-251N* registration G-TTNJ which departed from LHR at 17:03 local time (UTC).
* The N denotes that this is a neo [New Engine Option] version namely the CFM LEAP-1A engine(s)
We arrived in München 1 hour 20 minutes later, having only hand baggage we made our way to the car rental desk. In no time at all we were on our way to the hotel for the next two nights at the ibis budget, Gersthofen a semi-industrial town to the North East of München arriving just after 21:00 local time.
The following morning we were up early and headed towards our initial destination for the day of Donauwörth home of Airbus Helicopters. www.airbus.com
But before the visit to this facility we needed some breakfast and found a suitable bakery come café in the town centre. Refreshed we met with other friends and also met some aviation enthusiasts we’d not seen previously.
The Airbus Helicopters site sits on the banks of the River Danube occupying a huge amount of land, unfortunately I cannot find the full details!
At 09:00 on the dot our tour of the manufacturing plant of Airbus Helicopters began. Our guide Pete told of how Airbus Helicopters came into being and a little history to bring us up to date. As is policy for Airbus Helicopters positively no photographs are permitted on the visits, which I’d say is the only disappointing feature of these visits.
During the next three hours and forty five minutes we saw in excess of one hundred and thirty (130) Airbus Helicopters ranging from the H-125/130 through the H-135, H-145, H-160, NH/NFH-90 and on re-work the Sikorsky CH-53G Stallion (Jolly Green Giants) of the Luftwaffe having been transferred from the Heeresflieger in 2013.
We were all surprised at the amount of carbon fibre that is used in the manufacture of modern day helicopters. We were able to witness the processes of manufacturing various structures and components for the types of helicopters we saw. 3-D printing is now also used on some of the ‘metal’ components and I have to say the weight savings are incredible!
Due to ‘client confidentiality’ I am not at liberty to name the more exotic types and operators of helicopters seen during our tour of the facility. Suffice to say there were some very surprising ones!
One thing I can say is that Airbus Helicopters have received an order from a ‘customer’ for one hundred and sixty (160) of their H-160 helicopters the manufacture of which has only recently been transferred from Marignane, Marseille, France the current Head Quarters of Airbus Helicopters to Donauwörth.
Moving on we travelled towards Ingolstadt-Manching as we’d heard a rumour that a Kuwaiti AF Typhoon was out of the production hangar and clearly visible! Well the rumour was right as there sitting in an electronic test area was indeed KT002 the second two seat Leonardo Typhoon destined for the Kuwaiti AF. This is the second Kuwaiti AF Typhoon I have seen this year the other was at the International Air Tattoo (RIAT) held at RAF Fairford in July of this year. Unfortunately we couldn’t get a picture of this either due to the location of the electronic test area. Never mind we did see a few Airbus A400M’s on the re-work ramp which kept the four of us content for the day.
From Ingolstadt-Manching, after a partial circumnavigation of the airfield we headed back to the hotel in Gersthofen.
Dinner for the four of us was a short walk from the hotel to the Aram Restaurant & Gastro which is Turkish cuisine, a really enjoyable meal for 80€00 but we rounded it up to include service to 100€00
Next morning (Friday) was another early start as we had to be at TLG-74 Fliegerhorst Neuburg for 09:00. Having left in thick fog conditions we were pleasantly surprised to find that we had just over an hour to spare. Yet again we went hunting for breakfast and by luck we stumbled upon a bakery / café called Bäckerei Kaltenstadler, Hechtenstraße where we consumed breakfast 🙂
As we drove towards the base it was evident that there wouldn’t be much if any flying today as the mist and fog was so bad. Having been briefed by the visit organiser that it was expected that we would be seeing all the based aircraft on this visit it came as a disappointment to us all that we wouldn’t be seeing them after all and those that we did see we wouldn’t be allowed to photograph. We were however taken into a maintenance hangar where there were just five EuroFighter Typhoons one of which had been cordoned off and ‘sanitised’ before our arrival.
We were then permitted to visit the on-base museum which had a number of exhibits some of which I personally had seen on a previous visit many years ago.
Two hours later we bade farewell to our guide/host for the couple of hours and decided to go back to the café in Neuburg for a light lunch before making our way to the airport at München.
The afternoon was spent on the viewing area at Terminal Two, but not a solitary Military aircraft was seen all afternoon before the rather long walk back to Terminal One our departure terminal.
Departure was at 18:28 local time on a British Airways A320-232 registration G-EUUV to London Heathrow where we arrived 1 hour 26 minutes later. I was at home by 21:15 local time.
My thanks to Nick (the Organiser of the visits), Mike, Colin and John for allowing me to car share and accompany them on the visits