This is the only such place in Poland where they repair Ryanair planes. We were there with our camera.
Such a place as the workshop at the Ryanair base should be visited by everyone, that has an aversion to flying after watching another episode of the TV series "Disasters in the skies". You can be cured of quite a few of your fears by watching how the machines are serviced. Working on an airplane in no way resembles what we might see in even the most orderly auto repair shop. There is incredible rigor. We visited Ryanair's Wroclaw base with our camera.
We were able to see the hangar where Ryanair services its machines. It is one of six such bases in Europe, the only one in Poland: Wroclaw Aircraft Maintenance Services, or WAMS for short.
Here every part and bolt is inventoried, and after dismantling it has its place on one of the shelves. It is noted who dismantled it, who installed it, while no part is installed that is not approved by the aircraft manufacturer.
Controllers under control
The work of every person is controlled. Also controlled is the one who controls. This is because at the end everything is approved by a supervisor certified by the Civil Aviation Authority.
There is no egalitarianism in the service base. There is an established structure like the craft guilds of the past. The hierarchy exists to ensure that flying remains the safest mode of transportation.
See video of Ryanair's service base
Take, for example, an aircraft mechanic. There is an apprentice mechanic, but let's not be misled by the term. This is not a 16-year-old technical school student who came for a month-long apprenticeship, but a mechanic who works under supervision. Higher up in the hierarchy is a Class II mechanic, who is also supervised. A Class I mechanic works independently, but this does not mean that his work is out of control. Above him is a support mechanic. However, even he is not at the top of the hierarchy, as there are still ULC-licensed mechanics who make sure everything runs according to procedures. The work of the entire team is approved by the supervisor. Without his approval, the aircraft will not return to the runway.
Responsibility for life
The removal and installation of each part is described and accompanied by several signatures - according to the hierarchy. Who replaced and for what reason.
This is a very responsible job and we feel it. We take responsibility for people's lives. Sometimes something might seem insignificant, but there are no insignificant things here. Even a key left somewhere could endanger the lives of passengers. That's why tools are also inventoried, each has its own place to which it returns after use.
Barbara Kaśnikowska, WAMS
Inspection a pass to fly
The frequency of inspection and replacement of individual parts is determined by the manufacturer. It depends on the aircraft model. Three factors are key: the age of the machine, the number of hours flown and the number of takeoffs and landings. Overhauls vary from short steam days to 23 days.
Therefore, as far as safety is concerned, it doesn't matter whether you are flying an airplane manufactured in 2023 or 2003. The older machine must have undergone all inspections and every part that wears out has been replaced.
An aircraft that does not have documents certifying that it has undergone a timely inspection will not be allowed to fly. And it will not have these documents if all the components that require it are not reviewed and replaced during the inspection.
The season for inspections runs from September to May for the reason that during the vacations all planes run. During one season we did 111 short inspections. Such heavy ones, lasting 23 days, we are able to do 25-30 per season.
Michal Wawreniuk, Base Maintenance Manager at WAMS
Ryanair's base is not secret, but entry is forbidden
It's not easy to see for yourself what an aircraft overhaul looks like. You can't just walk into Ryanair's hangars located at Wroclaw Airport. Ryanair usually does not organize tours either. We were one of the few who could not only see how Ryanair services the planes, but also take pictures.
Michal Wawreniuk explains what a nine-day inspection of an aircraft manufactured six years ago looks like. Everything is checked, from the engine, hydraulics, avionics and cabin. The removed seats are seen spread out next to the aircraft. The interior is empty, devoid of the elements that give it its everyday aesthetic.
There are red stickers in various places - these mark the components to be replaced or repaired. They are on the seats (worn upholstery), but also on the fuselage (remnants of a lightning strike), as well as in many other places.
About 60 people work on such an overhaul in two shifts.
Michal Wawreniuk, Base Maintenance Manager at WAMS
Ryanair doubles capacity
- We employ 250 people, but we will increase the number of employees to 550. When we complete the construction of the second hangar, we will be servicing four aircraft at the same time from January," announces Barbara Kaśnikowska of WAMS.
The construction of the second WAMS hangar is an investment of €35 million. Wroclaw is one of the most important locations for Ryanair.
Dara Brady, Ryanair Digital & Marketing Director