In mid-March the Lufthansa board of directors announced its decision to pull the plug on the restoration of Lockheed L-1649A Starliner N7316C to flying condition in Auburn, Maine. A total of 70 people were working on the project, which began back in 2008, and is reported to have cost $200 million to date.
Lufthansa spokesman Wolfgang Weber stated on 16 March that the aircraft will be moved to Germany. It is understood that Lufthansa Technik will separate the wings from the fuselage for transportation, which will most likely mean that the L-1649 will never fly again.
Under the leadership of project director Oliver Storm, the machine, c/n 1018 — built in 1957 and originally operated by TWA — was being subjected to the most detailed rebuild a civil airliner is ever likely to undergo. The Wright R-3350 engines, propellers and undercarriage had all been overhauled and were ready to be installed and flown. During 1960 the machine was converted to cargo configuration, with the front and rear passenger doors being replaced by much larger freight doors. Following a long search for original passenger doors, the Lufthansa Technik team went to Johannnesburg, where a former Lufthansa L-1649, D-ALOL — one of four operated by the airline as ‘Super Stars’ on trans-Atlantic routes — is preserved. The doors were thoroughly examined to enable reproductions to be fashioned for the project. For operational reasons, an ‘off-the-shelf’ glass cockpit, designed for use on the Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules, was due to be fitted.