Airbus Innovation brings aircraft maintenance “indoors”
To reduce delays in unscheduled engine maintenance due to a lack of hangar space, Airbus has introduced an innovative solution that “flips the script” on conventional airport procedures – allowing a hangar to be brought to aircraft in need, rather than the other way around.
The solution is an inflatable tent that enables engine maintenance in ideal, protected conditions – dry, temperate and comfortable – anywhere in the world, saving time and reducing associated costs. While such maintenance activity sometimes can be performed outdoors on the apron, customers based in regions with extreme climates often must wait until hangar space is available. Until now, that is.
Airbus spent three months working in collaboration with Ireland’s J.B. Roche (MFG) Ltd. to devise this quick, practical and effective solution, which has been validated and is now available for use with each of the company’s long-range jetliner families: A330, A340, A350 XWB and A380. It is provided as a kit that includes the inflatable domed tent, plus a system for heating, ventilation and air conditioning.
The tent is held in place by positioning ballast – such as water containers or sandbags – on specially-designed skirts, and can be pulled around an engine and above the corresponding pylon thanks to doors that open at the ends. In addition, this solution is fully compatible with Airbus’ dedicated electric hoist for removing and installing engines.
Representing another step forward, Airbus currently is investigating other shelter systems that could be used around an aircraft’s landing gear, the main fuselage and its doors in order to provide a similar level of comfort during maintenance activities.