Thursday October 5, 2017: the big day – Airport Day. The day when the new PANTHER 8×8 is presented to customers and the international press for the first time. The day when it will showcase its capabilities for the first time. This is also when its final secrets will be revealed. Things can, at times, get a little bit hectic.
Admittedly, the PANTHER 8×8 was not entirely “new” anymore. Neither the information, nor the vehicle. In June this year, we were able to announce a major milestone together with Vienna International Airport. We (Rosenbauer) announced our development and launch of the PANTHER 8×8, and Vienna International Airport announced their faith in us by ordering four vehicles of this type.
These circumstances – in addition to the fact that we wanted to show the new PANTHER 8×8 in its natural habitat – gave us the idea of presenting the newest addition to our family at Vienna International Airport, as part of Airport Day. This day should enable our partners and customers to get to know not only the new product, but the entire product range designed and made for airport use. And this does not start and end with the PANTHER, but also includes firefighters’ personal protective equipment, such as the HEROS-titan helmet. And also the efficient and effective training of firefighters with simulators. But in most situations, it’s the vehicles that receive most of the attention. This is why we have also tried to showcase the entire product range – from the PANTHER 6×6 S through the new 6×6 to the escape stair.
But one of the biggest challenges – for myself, at least – was the press conference held on the morning of Airport Day. I had the great honor to present the technical highlights of this vehicle alongside our CEO Dieter Siegel.
Approximately 25 eager journalists from all over the world – from Germany to South Africa – came to find out about the innovations and special features and question me about them down to the last detail. And I must admit it is not always easy to give a precise answer.
The PANTHER offers many features and, especially when it comes to statements on its hidden functionalities and maintenance, which is particularly important for airport fire services, technical know-how is required. In this case it is helpful if – just like at Rosenbauer – you are fully familiar with the product, observing it on a near-daily basis during the prototyping phase. This gives you an enthusiasm, a twinkle in your eyes, and it is something special to be allowed to pass this on.
Of course, the journalists also want to see the vehicle “in action.” And, as can happen with any new vehicle launch, you sometimes face minor challenges during such presentations. Then things really start to get hectic. That is why it is important to us that our vehicles are put through an intensive test phase before they are delivered to customers, so that nothing else will go wrong at the airport and safety is ensured. What such a test looks like, what is important, and what comes out of it, will be the subject of my next blog contribution.