Up in a blink of an eye 2017-01-09T09:06:10+00:00

An article by Michael Gubisch, originally published in Aircraft Technology magazine

280m (3 X 91 metre) clear span hangar | Lufthansa | Malta| © REIDsteelSpeed is the name of the game for UK-based steel building business John Reid & Sons, be it the quoting, design, manufacture or erection.

Components for hangars in overseas locations need to fit in 20ft or 40ft containers for export and are simply bolted together on site.

Except for cranes and height-scaling equipment, which can be difficult to obtain in remote areas, only minimal tools and low-level skills are required.

According to Rollo Reid, technical director, economy is what defines the company’s buildings.They are simple, reliable constructions, with efficient use of material that results in minimum eaves height, small ground loads and less demanding foundations.

280m (3 X 91 metre) clear span hangar | Lufthansa | Malta| © REIDsteelThere are no details that are not immediately necessary for the basic functioning of the building and “no so-called high-tech, which is costly to build and even more costly to maintain”.

Also inside the building, Reid aims at keeping the costs down. Whenever possible he advises his clients to choose a tail-in maintenance layout, because this allows the docking system to be built from the ground up.

Ceiling-suspended alternatives add to the building height, strength specification for the roof construction, and the required building accuracy.As a result such docking systems can be substantially more expensive, sometimes even more than the hangar itself.

280m (3 X 91 metre) clear span hangar | Lufthansa | Malta| © REIDsteelHe sees ceiling-mounted crane systems in a similar light.

For example, in a 100- (330ft) clear span hangar where the  deflections of the roof and crane assembly are limited to the span divided by 1000, such a crane can oscillate as much as 100mm (3.94in.) in windy conditions — “a lot when fitting an engine to a wing!”.

This is why he reckons that most customers prefer ground-mounted cranes or forklifts.
Sprinklers also appear to be ‘unnecessary ballast under the ceiling’. Reid says they hose everything inside the hangar rather than target a fire directly.

280m (3 X 91 metre) clear span hangar | Lufthansa | Malta| © REIDsteelWith exposed equipment access bays and maintenance openings as well as dissembled structures and components on the aircraft, this could potentially lead to more water damage than harm from fire or smoke.

He recommends foam canons all around the building, which are operated manually during working hours and run on automatic mode at night time.

Asked about recent trends in hangar design and construction, Reid responds “no one has ever made a hangar and said ‘it’s too big’ ”. No wonder the hangar builder not only welcomes the A380 introduction but also the growing investment in new MRO facilities in upcoming economies.


In his opinion, commercial MRO companies are interested in cost-effective maintenance factories rather than the “state airlines who buy ego-extensions for their director boards and architects — and these days there are more of the former than the latter.”

One of Reid’s latest projects is a maintenance complex of three interlinked hangars. Each with an open span of 91.5m (300ft), 275m (900ft) wide in total, and with a clear height of 26m (85ft) — for Lufthansa Technik in Malta that went “up in a blink of an eye.”

Construction of the LTM hangars.

280 metre wide Airbus & Boeing maintenance hangar for Lufthansa Technik, Malta Lufthansa Technik Malta specialises in the maintenance and repair of Airbus, Boeing and other large aircraft.

The hangar is 280 metres wide in three clear spans of 91.5 metres. It is 90 metres deep with a clear height of 26 metres under all the steelwork, fronted with 18 electrically operated door leaves, the largest two doors being 26 metres high by 91.5 metres wide.

In addition to Lufthansa and Air Malta aircraft, customers include: Spanair, AirOne, BMI, Germanwings, Fly Niki, Privat Air, Arik Air, Wizz Air, SunExpress and Livingston Energy Flight.


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