Virgin Atlantic Airways has today opened its new hangar at Heathrow Airport. The construction work began on the £25 million facility on 4 July 2001 and in July this year Virgin Atlantic unveiled its new A340-600, the longest plane in the world, in the newly built hangar. The project was a joint venture between BAA Property and Virgin Atlantic Airways.
The new building measures 80 metres wide and 95 metres long and has been designed to be able to accommodate Virgin’s current fleet of aircraft including future deliveries of nine further A340-600s and six A380s. The facility will also allow the airline to bring more of its fleet’s maintenance in-house.
The 13,000 square metre hangar - double the size of a football pitch - is positioned at the Eastern end of the airport on a site which was formerly the home of the now relocated HAL fire training ground. The building has 16 metre high by 84 metre wide modern main hangar doors with translucent panels which were designed to save space by being stored alongside one side of the building, a design that is unique in the UK on doors of this size.
Over 1580 tonnes of structural steel, 25 miles of pipework and 220 miles of service cabling were used over the 70 week period of construction. The facility has a purpose built docking feature designed to fit around the nose of any aircraft in the Virgin fleet to provide easier access for engineers.
The building boasts an environmentally friendly state of the art water pre-treatment works. This equipment is designed to deal with the removal of any pollutants.
The project took two years of negotiations, planning and site preparations and unusually for a project of this size, there was only one main contractor; Interserve Project Services Ltd (formerly Tilbury Douglas) from Birmingham and one main designer; Meinhardt Australia (pty) based in Melbourne, Australia.
Steve Ridgway, chief executive of Virgin Atlantic said:
“Today’s opening of the hangar is the culmination of three years of hard work from Virgin Atlantic and all the contractors involved. As our fleet of aircraft grow, I am delighted that the opening of our first hangar means we can reduce our reliance on outside companies for maintenance services whilst at the same time being able to offer the facility to other airline parties for scheduled or ad hoc maintenance work.
Mick Temple, BAA Heathrow Managing Director said:
“I am delighted to join Virgin today in launching this venture. BAA is committed to working with its business partners to provide world-class facilities of this kind at Heathrow Airport. This new facility will enable Virgin to accommodate fleet changes and represents the investment both companies are making towards meeting future developments in air travel which at Heathrow includes the introduction of new Airbus aircraft like the Airbus A340-600 and the A380.”
Commenting on the design of the hangar, Glenn Morris, Managing Director of Meinhardt Australia said:
“As designers of the new hangar, we have aimed to deliver a facility that will keep Virgin Atlantic ahead of the pack for many years. The hangar boasts innovative features such as “around-the-corner” doors and an ability to convert the hangar to accommodate an Airbus A380 when in service.”
Jay Robinson, Managing Director of Interserve’s Strategic Projects Division said:
“We are extremely proud to be involved with this complex and technically challenging project. The success achieved is a testament of our commitment to a co-operative way of working alongside joint clients BAA and Virgin Atlantic Airways, the professional design team and our supply chain.