British Airways has completed the latest phase of a multi-million pound redevelopment of its Heathrow engineering base as it prepares for the arrival of its new fleet of Airbus A380 super jumbos.
A 24 tonne roof “eyebrow” has been lifted into place in one of the aircraft hangers as builders raised the height of the entrance to accommodate the A380s.
The hangers were built in the early 1950s and gained grade II listed status from English Heritage in 1995. Adapting the landmark buildings requires great care and skill to preserve the internal unsupported arches which were designed by Owen Williams.
At nearly 23m high the hangars could easily accommodate the Boeing 747, but with the arrival of 12 A380s from 2013 the entrance to two hangars needed to be raised by another 3.5m to accommodate the larger tail fin.
Due to the complexity of the lifting operation and the height of the crane, work had to take place overnight so it wouldn’t interfere with aircraft landings at the world’s busiest international airport.
The redevelopment has involved the introduction of 138 tonnes of additional steel and strengthening to create a new ‘eye brow’ truss to form the remodeled opening. The single largest piece of steel reinforcement – the ‘eye’ piece- weighs 24 tonnes. Over 30,000 welding rods weighing approximately 1.5 tonnes will be used creating over 4km of linear welds.
Vance Williamson, Head of Property Services, said: “This is an important step in converting our hangars ready for our new aircraft arriving in 2013, it could also allow British Airways to provide maintenance solutions to other A380 customers at Heathrow. The hangar modifications represent only part of a wider property plan that will ensure that our engineering base remains a world class maintenance facility able to accommodate the very latest aircraft.”
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