For every flight hour of a rescue helicopter, between three and five hours of maintenance need to be carried out in the hangar at the Rega Centre. This is also where helicopter mechanic Philipp Tüchthuisen works. Each individual procedure is carefully noted. "You have to be able to cope with the enormous responsibility this work involves, otherwise you’re in the wrong job," says Tüchthuisen.
He has been interested in aircraft since his childhood. "We lived near Büchel Airport in Rheinland-Pfalz and my father took me to many air shows. Planes were a part of my everyday life." Philipp Tüchthuisen completed an apprenticeship as an aircraft mechanic and learned how to carry out maintenance work on fighter jets and helicopters. At the age of 19, he transferred to the German police helicopter squadron, where he spent three years deepening his knowledge on helicopter technology. He joined Rega in 2015. "I immediately enjoyed working here. Previously, I worked on two helicopters, now there are 18.
"You have to be able to cope with the enormous responsibility"
Suddenly I was replacing large aircraft parts such as engines on a weekly basis and not just once a year," says the 27-year-old with shining eyes.
The maintenance of Rega’s helicopters is particularly intensive because the numerous takeoffs and landings during rescue missions put great strain on the aircraft. All the maintenance work on the helicopter is documented and checked using the four-eyes principle. Since 2017, Philipp Tüchthuisen has held an inspector’s licence and is allowed to check and approve the work carried out by his team members. Similarly to pilots, helicopter mechanics require type certification for each aircraft model. Philipp Tüchthuisen acquired this for both types of Rega helicopter, AgustaWestland Da Vinci and Airbus Helicopters H145. "Usually we have at least two rescue helicopters here, sometimes up to five. The aim is to get them operational again as quickly as possible."
Besides his work as a helicopter mechanic, he also shares his knowledge about Rega and his profession by conducting guided tours of the Rega Centre. "It’s great to see how interested people are." And what about flying himself? Is that a dream of his? Laughing, Tüchthuisen declines. "I’m quite happy with just accompanying check flights. I don’t enjoy flying very much."