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Airport Hangar Design and Construction
Category: Aircraft Hangar Doors | Airport Hangar Doors | Doors for Hangars | 08/01/2013 - 02:58:22
With no little fanfare this November, Monarch Aircraft Engineering (MAEL) announced major plans to expand its facilities at Birmingham International Airport, UK, with what the company says will be a "state-of-the-art" hangar incorporating "industry-leading design and build standards". The 110,000ft2 facility is due to become operational in 2013 and will be able to handle widebody aircraft such as the 777, the 747 and the upcoming A350, having the capacity to house two 777-300ERs or 10 narrowbody aircraft simultaneously. The hangar will furthermore be the first in the UK to cater for 787 maintenance. The overall design will include multiple component repair and back shops and the expansion will be manned by a workforce of up to 300 personnel.
Aircraft Hangar Maintenance
Mick Adams, MD of the maintenance, repair and overhaul provider (MRO), commented that the addition of the new facility to existing operations in London and Manchester will ensure that MAEL can provide customers with "a leading maintenance and repair service in key, strategically-important MRO locations across the UK". Meanwhile, the executive chairman of Monarch Group, Iain Rawlinson, described the expansion as a "signal" of the parent company's intent to drive the growth of its maintenance division.
A pragmatic means of housing aircraft during maintenance activities; a much-needed resource for carriers operating new aircraft types; a focal point for recruitment; a geographically strategic investment; and a symbol of success and hope for the future - a new hangar is all these things and more. But in 2012, what features of design and construction make a commercial aircraft hangar "state-of-the-art" and capable of facilitating the kind of activities which form the core of an MRO's business?
"We believe that several facility design features can promote efficiency in aircraft maintenance operations," says Ted Oberlies, SVP of engineering at architecture and engineering company Ghafari Associates, whose Aviation Group is based in Chicago. "From proper facility configuration to the use of natural daylighting, positive design relates to productive operations," he states.
According to Oberlies, the main objective when developing a new commercial aviation hangar is to create an environment which allows personnel to focus on the tasks at hand, eliminate workarounds and reduce the unnecessary movement of materials. Within this context, he says that a "significant efficiency enabler" is the matching of material handling and access equipment to the maintenance environment. Further operational improvements are gained by a design which reduces the upkeep of the building itself and enhances the comfort of the workforce. It goes almost without saying that an effective hangar design also promotes a high level of safety for the benefit of both the employees and the employer.
At Ghafari, the design process is enhanced by 3-D modelling software which enables the cre-ation of virtual environments and the validation of the plans by clients. Oberlies describes such techniques as "clearly an advancement in design" and believes they will play a role in the future life-cycle management of capital facility assets. Ghafari is currently working on a major MRO facility in Saudi Arabia which will involve taking the project from concept to final design as well as supporting the construction consortium which is responsible for building the 550,000ft2 complex.
Philip McNayr, principal at Oklahoma-based architecture and engineering company Frankfurt Short Bruza (FSB), names two key factors for increasing the efficiency of aircraft maintenance operations through hangar design. The first is the allocation of space immediately adjacent to the aircraft for the storage of components which are removed from the aircraft, including racks for seat sets and overhead bins. The second is the proximity of support shops to the aircraft servicing bay - "the closer the shops, the less travel time and less opportunity to misplace parts or components," explains McNayr.
According to FSB, the efficiency of maintenance operations can be increased through two key aspects of hangar design: the allocation of parts storage space adjacent to the aircraft and the proximity of the support shops to the servicing bays.
Aircraft Hangar Design
For new hangar designs, McNayr lists the typical work scope criteria as follows: servicing bays; utility systems; overhead bridge cranes; fall-arrest systems; support shops; parts storage or warehousing; offices; shipping or delivery docks; aircraft ramp parking; and employee parking. Like other building types, hangars also need to be sustainable, with as small an environmental footprint as possible. Depending on the type and extent of the maintenance which is to be performed, McNayr says that the work scope "can vary from minimal to extensive aircraft maintenance support functions and systems". FSB undertakes renovations and repurposing projects as well as designing new hangars.
While fundamental efficiency, safety and environmental considerations obviously need to be met, Oberlies and McNayr agree that there is significant potential for customisation within hangar design and construction. McNayr says the client's budget is "the only real limitation" and that each hangar concept "usually contains specific design criteria that are unique to that particular customer". Recent special requests received by FSB were for aircraft hydraulic systems and variable height mezzanine-level support shops adjacent to the aircraft.
According to Oberlies, in commercial MRO there is not only "great potential" for customisation in hangar design but the demand for it, as clients are increasingly focused on matching their busi-ness plans as closely as possible to their facility investments, including equipment and support systems. "We typically receive requests for flexible environment design and application of newer technologies to promote productivity, consistency and safety in the workplace," says Oberlies. He adds that customers are also placing a higher priority on sustainable design, a policy which Ghafari supports in the knowledge that MRO hangars "tend to be legacy facilities" and "should be designed for long-term value and operational turnover".
Equipment such as this teleplatform system from CTI Systems of Luxembourg facilitate access to the aircraft within the hangar. The CTI system installed at MNG Technic consists of four bridge cranes and four teleplatform units for painting aircraft up to 777 size.
Gordon Collins, director of marketing at Rubb USA, says there is "a fair amount" of potential for customisation of the re-locatable, frame-supported membrane hangars his company produces. Rubb uses hot-dip galvanised steel as the skeleton for modular, prefabricated structures which are bolted together on-site, in Collins' words "like a giant erector set". He explains that the structures are designed so that they can be lengthened or shortened as easily as they can be relocated; such adaptation and relocation capabilities come into play during projects such as air-port modernisation. According to Collins, the PVC-coated membrane is also modular and attached to the structure "in manageable pieces" to form a weather-proof outer shell, able to be removed in the same way for transportation at a later date. "Essentially it's re-locatable without loss of material," he states. By contrast, Collins says that any attempt to relocate a typical pre-engineered metal structure with welded pieces will result in the loss of the roof at the minimum.
The largest hangar Rubb has built in this fashion is a 270ft-wide line maintenance hangar for AirTran Airways in Atlanta, Georgia, which can accommodate two 737-900NGs. The company is currently working on a similar size hangar for Hawaiian Airlines which is set to be used for A350-800 aircraft. Collins says the outer limit for the design would be a 300ft hangar capable of handling A380s.