Advanced Fabric Aircraft Hangars for Airport Facilities

Rubb aircraft hangars use state-of-art membrane materials and frames, featuring a number of benefits compared to other companies such as being more economical.

Compared to traditional hangars, Rubb structures are modular designed, which helps to reduce the overall structure weight. The framework itself is hot dip galvanised post-production to eliminate any chance of corrosion. Galvanising is the process of metallurgically bonding a tough coating of zinc into the steel surface.

Microscopic analysis shows that there is no demarcation line between the steel and zinc, but a gradual transition through a series of zinc-iron alloys. The protective coating is fused into the metal and therefore will give improved protection compared to other coatings such as paint.

To continue the reduction of overall structure weight, support the ease of construction and to save costs, Rubb hangars are clad with tough PVC impregnated polyester fabric. The membrane is tensioned over the steel structure and anchored to the foundations. The fabric is tested with respect to tensile strength, elongation, tearing strength, bursting strength, coating adhesion and resistance to flexing, according to BS 3424. The fabric is flame retardant and self-extinguishing to BS 5438 Test 2B.

The fabric has a manufacturer’s warranty of ten years, but Rubb hangars have been in use around the world and have proven to last more than 40 years with the original PVC sheets. Rubb hangars can be insulated using Thermohall PVC cladding technology. This comes in a number of thickness options, but Rubb would recommend 150mm Thermohall for an aircraft hangar, which provides a U-value of 0.25W/m²K, meeting British building standards.

Rubb hangars are designed to British building standards or Eurocodes with regards to wind speeds and snow loadings. Similar to a traditional hangar, Rubb structures are designed to accommodate the full weight of snow acting on the roof. Being designed this way makes a Rubb structure a direct and comparable alternative to a traditional hangar.

A particularly challenging project that Rubb overcame was the easyJet hangars at Gatwick Airport, London, UK. In 2016, Rubb provided easyJet with a twin span hangar measuring 91.5m wide by 60m long. Rubb also worked as the main contractor on this project overseeing all works, from the groundworks to internal fit out. The first sections of the modular steelwork were constructed on 14 December and by 19 May easyJet was able to introduce the first aircraft into the hangar.

For a project of this size, and within a challenging and complicated working environment, it was great to see it all come together with great success. Brendan McConnellogue, easyJet’s head of maintenance, commenting on the project, said: “The Rubb team who worked on site were absolutely first class.

“The successful delivery of this project, which has been challenging both in terms of scale and its timeline, is another example of what can be achieved through easyJet’s innovative and lean approach, not only meeting a tight timeline, but also creating strong sustainable partnerships to deliver market-leading operational performance.”

Rubb works alongside a number of leading door manufacturers, depending on the clients’ requirements and hangar size. Hangar doors can either be vertical lifting or horizontal sliding. The advantage of using a Rubb hangar is the close relationship we have with our door partners, including advanced door technologies and their seamless integration with Rubb structures.

Rubb structures are custom-designed for every project, so the most effective and efficient hangar doors can be selected and connected straight to the hangar’s main steel framework. This can be designed to be connected on the inside or outside face of the end span. There is no need for an extra supporting frame to be designed and manufactured to connect both together. This saves on manufacturing and construction time and cost.

The technologies we are seeing in the hangar market are solar power and self-efficiency. We have been exploring how roof and gable surfaces of buildings can harvest and utilise solar energy to power maintenance and operations within hangar systems.

The foundation that a hangar is erected upon is the most important aspect in the construction of an aircraft hangar. Rubb hangars, similar to traditional hangars, need suitable foundations to take structure loadings. Depending on the existing surface, Rubb would need a minimum of a concrete upstand ring beam or concrete foundation pads to support the structure only. Providing these types of foundation arrangements, instead of a completely new slab, massively reduces project costs and speeds up construction time.

Foundations such as ballast weights and spiral anchors are not suitable for narrow-body hangars and wide body hangars due to the weight of the structure. Rubb hangars can be classed as semi-permanent and are fully relocatable. They can be modified but a traditional foundation is still needed.

Depending on the size of the hangar, Rubb can complete a project, from initial enquiry to fully operational status, within a few months. An example would be easyJet where Rubb supplied a 91m-wide, twin span by 60m-long narrow body hangar in approximatively 30 weeks. This included foundations, hangar, hangar doors, lighting, electrics, heating, ventilation and offices.

The industry is forever changing and growing and Rubb needs to stay ahead of the game by making sure it offers the latest technologies and best quality solutions to customers. Rubb strives to ensure that custom-designed hangars continue to be cost effective. This could be by minimising heating space and costs or looking at the long-term strategic plan of a company and working with them to create a hangar that can adapt and move with the growth of their business. By continuing to provide excellent and honest customer service around the world, Rubb is looking forward to another successful 40 years in aviation.

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