For decades, German luggage company Rimowa has been the go-to brand for aluminium suitcases combining an iconic aesthetic with durable quality. Now, the company (which has long focussed on versions of its star product without branching much further) embarks on a new, incredibly ambitious venture: they want to give you the luggage and also the plane to take it onto.
The company’s CEO Dieter Morszeck (grandson of Rimowa founder Paul Morszeck) presented the newly rebuilt Junkers F13, part of Rimowa Flugzeugwerke’s fleet, at Oshkosh (Wisconsin), during EAA AirVenture, the world’s biggest air show.
The first all-metal plane in civil aviation (at a time when planes were made of wood and canvas), the Junkers is considered by experts to be the mother of all commercial aircraft. It was launched in 1919 and marked a memorable moment in aviation history – so much so that its design inspired Morszeck’s father to use the same ridged aluminium material for his company's suitcases, which have since become the most iconic luggage in the world.
A keen pilot himself, Morszeck had been dreaming of bringing the F13 back to life, and has allowed his passion to run deep into the project. ‘We think that the F13 shows our heritage,’ he explains. ‘It is something really special – it gives you the feeling of the 1920s, the adventure of travelling.’
Rimowa Flugzeugwerke is currently in its exploratory phase, with an inaugural flight expected in March 2016 and delivery of the first planes (which will be produced on a by-order basis) later that year. The aircraft will be assembled in Switzerland by a small team of engineers, mechanics and craftsmen, with the same handmade methods and attention to detail as in their original guise. Construction will be as faithful as possible to the original, with minimal adjustments to make the aircraft suitable to contemporary flying and air safety standards.
The plane will be able to fly a range of just under 600km. There will be space for two people in the open cockpit and a further four passengers at the rear, an experience which Morszeck likens to driving a small convertible – a fun, experiential indulgence.
‘We are not driven by numbers, we are driven by passion,’ explains Morszeck, for whom this project is both a personal dream come true and an exploration of what his company can do, rather than a financial opportunity. ‘We like,’ he concludes, ‘to be the best.’