Another day of sun – Making an even happier Hawker out of me

Hawker? Yes, Hawker! This is what the Hawker Pacific Aerospace employees occasionally call themselves. Hawker Pacific Aerospace is a wholly owned subsidiary of Lufthansa Technik (LHT) in Los Angeles and the location I chose for my project abroad as part of the StartTechnik Trainee program. In addition to Hamburg and London, Los Angeles is one of the three LHT landing gear overhaul locations. The subsidiary was acquired in 2002, it is located in the immediate vicinity of Hollywood Burbank Airport (BUR) where it enjoys the daily sunshine of California’s Sun Valley. The workforce consists of nearly 350 employees, 35 of whom are in administration. Working at Hawker feels more like working for a medium-sized company, compared to the large corporation feel of my previous project assignments in Germany.

Hawker getting ready for Halloween
View of Hawker’s production area

Based on the experience I gained so far at Hawker, I feel that smaller subsidiaries are a great opportunity to gain broader experience, learn faster and gain more responsibility earlier. This assessment is based on my time leading a project named Roles and Responsibilities. My project focuses on implementing newly designed roles and associated responsibilities within Hawker. The roles considered here include, in particular, the production-related functions such as engineering, production control and production itself. However, the relevant interfaces to the respective adjacent departments are also continuously taken into account. The implementation aims for an increased transparency and efficiency in the landing gear overhaul process. The daily responsibilities of the project consist of the conception, preparation and follow-up as well as the moderation of several weekly meetings with the entire or selected colleagues of the Company Officers and the Senior Management Team.

In addition, I support two other projects that have interfaces to the Roles and Responsibilities Project. The first project is the design of a production control method that aims to optimize throughput, taking into account both induction and capacity. In the second project, I support the implementation of a cross-departmental IT tool that facilitates reconciliation processes and strengthens role awareness of each function through clear assignment of tasks.

Outside of work, there is a lot to report of the leisure time I spend in LA. In 2016, I first met LA as a transit station on a road trip through beautiful California. However, after my first visit I was quite disappointed to be honest. Although I liked the neighborhoods around Venice Beach and Santa Monica, everything else has been less appealing. In particular, what immediately comes to mind are the Hollywood Sign and the Walk of Fame. At the same time I was appalled by the gap between poor and rich: Skid Row, where tents of homeless people line up, and Beverly Hills, where villas dominate the landscape. These images leave a rather negative impression of the city. In addition, there is the everyday traffic chaos, whereby the mention of the distance in miles is relative and the only truth is the calculated time of the GPS. Unfortunately there is no remedy by functional public transport.

View from the top of Griffith Park
Football at StubHub Center

Despite this, I’m glad to have gotten to know LA much better during my time here. Although I cannot cope with the obvious problems of the city, but I got to know the city from a completely new perspective. For example my favorite moments were visiting the Downtown Arts District, where abandoned warehouses have become a beautiful hub for LA’s young, creative and professional. Moreover, I enjoyed the opportunity to be part of the audience for a series taping in one of the numerous film studios. I will miss the beautiful beaches that are located west to the city where you can watch great sunsets and where I learned surfing. In August, you might avoid the heat and visit the California Science Center where you can take a look at the Space Shuttle “Endeavor”. Last but not least, as a great sports enthusiast, I had a fantastic time watching football and experiencing my first tailgating party with local coworkers. But of course, I also took the chance to see a Dodgers baseball game and I am going to see LeBron James at his new home in the Staples Center.

As a Lufthansa employee with an interest in flying and in new locations, it is natural that I used the airports in and around Los Angeles to explore other US cities. For example, I used the Burbank regional airport to take a weekend trip to Portland and Seattle after work on a Friday. Due to the Close proximity of the Airport to the Hawker facility (around ten minutes), travelling is made very convenient. My favorite trip so far occurred during Labor Day weekend, as I travelled to O’ahu to explore the home of the Hawaiian capital, Honolulu.

Endeavour at California Science Center
Turtle at Laniakea Beach, Hawaii

I am very thankful to experience an exciting project abroad with all the likable colleagues and having the chance of spending four great months in the beautiful City of Angels.


Profile of StartTechnik Trainee

Julian Köppl joined the StartTechnik graduate program in October 2017. Before, he studied Industrial Engineering with a specialization in Mechanical Engineering at the Technische Universität Darmstadt. He gained the majority of his professional experience during his studies through three internships within the Lufthansa Group. After catching aviation fever during his internship with Frankfurt’s Network Planning Department, he worked as an intern with the Business Development Department in New York. He made his way to LHT during his internship with the Line Maintenance Intercont Department in Frankfurt. Julian’s assignment abroad is his third project within the StartTechnik program. Prior to supporting Hawker Pacific Aerospace in Los Angeles he worked as a Project Manager in the Innovation Management Department of Lufthansa Technik’s Product Division Fleet Services and held the PMO function (Project Manager Operations) for a project in the Engine Division’s Strategy Department.