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Emirates is Engineering for the 21st Century

Emirates is constructing a new Dhs 1.3
billion (US $353 million) Engineering Centre on a 55-hectare (136 acres)
site on the north side of Dubai International Airport to keep pace with the
growth of its fleet, which is expected to more than double from the current
74 aircraft over the next seven years.When completed, the new centre will be one of the biggest civil aviation
maintenance facilities in the world. Its eight hangars will form the largest
free-spanned structures in the Middle East, with roofs supported by
110-metre long single spans.

The new centre will service Emirates existing fleet as well as the
additional 99 aircraft presently on order, including 45 Airbus A380-800
superjumbos, 29 Boeing 777-300ERs and 20 Airbus 340-600s, and also will
accommodate third party maintenance. It is scheduled for completion by the
beginning of next year, when the airline’s fleet is forecast to have
increased to more than 80 aircraft.


His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, Chairman of Emirates said:
“This is the airline’s single largest facility investment ever and among our
most cost-effective ones. It will make us proud by setting a new standard of
excellence for the industry but more importantly, it will support the growth
of the Emirates fleet with in-house capability that will also be a
significant source of revenue, thanks to third-party servicing contracts.”



The centre’s seven fully air-conditioned hangars for heavy and light
maintenance, each 110m x 105m - more than twice the size of a soccer field -
together with a paint hangar, will cover more than nine hectares (22 acres)
or an area equivalent to 17 soccer fields. (Emirates’ current Engineering
Centre has three smaller hangars.) 


Each hangar will feature an entrance gate 88m wide and every bay will be
able to accommodate aircraft of any size, including the Airbus A380, the
largest airliner ever, 73m long with a 80m wingspan and a tail 24m high. The
hangars will have almost the same dimensions as the A380 facilities
specially constructed by Airbus in Toulouse to assemble the plane.


Contractors for the centre are in the process of lifting thousands of tonnes
of steel mega-trusses to support the roofs. The heaviest are the arches over
the hangar doors, each 95 metres long and weighing 460 tonnes, and requiring
four cranes to be lifted into place.


Each hangar will have a mezzanine docking system for access to the aircraft,
while two hangars will be equipped with full fuselage docking systems
designed for heavy maintenance. In addition, all hangars as well as selected
workshops will be equipped with roof-mounted cranes.


Flexible, perforated air conditioning ducting will be used in hangars and
large workshops to provide effective cooling in all weather conditions. The
perforations cause vortexes so that air constantly flows over the outside of
the ducts preventing condensation and keeping them dust-free.


All the support services needed in the hangars including air conditioning
and electrical power will be housed underground. When needed, consoles will
be raised from the floor. This avoids potential accidents caused by trailing
wires across the hangar floor.


The hangar facades and roofs will be finished in extruded polycarbonate
panels which are light in weight and translucent, improving the working
environment by providing natural light. Outside the hangars, the Engineering
Centre will have nine dedicated aircraft parking bays, with facilities for


Testing of engines on the wing will be done in a multi-million dirham engine
run-up bay with 15-metre-high acoustic walls. There, engines will be tested
with the bay’s rear wall ensuring that jet blast is directed safely upwards.


In addition to stores, workshops, an office block and multi-storey parking
for 1,500 cars, the new centre will include a security building and the
Emirates Engineering Training School, which will be re-located from its
present home in the Emirates Aviation College.


Facilities for staff will include a canteen, a coffee shop, a gym and an
auditorium. Staff also will enjoy covered moving walkways between the car
park and the hangars.


Wireless communication throughout the centre will allow engineers to access
technical documentation via laptops in close proximity to the aircraft under
maintenance. Cordless office phones also will be used throughout the centre.


Below ground, a two-kilometre service tunnel, 15 metres wide, will supply
chilled, potable water and fire-fighting water, electrical power and the
communications network.


The main consultants are ADP.i (Aeroports de Paris), with Fraser Nag
Partnership as consultants for the landside facilities. The project is being
managed for Emirates by the airline’s Facilities Management department in
consultation with Emirates Engineering and its IT, security and safety
departments, and Dubai’s Department of Civil Aviation.


The huge dimension of the site, adjoining the Dubai Airport Free Zone on the
north side of the airport, makes moving quickly from one part of the
facility to another a serious challenge. The use of buses, tricycles, golf
carts and even Segway(r) Human Transporters is being assessed to find the
best way to achieve speedy and safe movement around the centre.