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Putting the air into aircraft maintenance

25 September 2015

A compressed air system from Atlas Copco is playing an integral role in supporting maintenance procedures carried out by Monarch Aircraft Engineering (MAEL) within its multi-million pound, giant hangar facility at Birmingham International Airport.

Compressed air plays a key role in aircraft maintenance procedures, so special consideration of the air supply access locations, such as positioning flexible hose reels and siting floor channels to limit clutter and allow proximity to the point of use, was all part of the original system design and procurement process. This approach has enabled optimum use of floor space to accommodate simultaneous maintenance operations on a mix of wide-bodied and narrow-bodied aircraft to be carried out at any time.

The Atlas Copco compressor system, supplied and installed by the company’s premier distributor, Air Kraft, based in Coventry, comprises two GA30 VSD FF full-feature, rotary screw compressors and ancillaries. These compressors, each with an integrated refrigerant dryer, supply 7bar quality air for specific applications ranging from combination with air movers for the ventilation and emptying of aircraft fuel tanks, to the operation of air tools for structural fastening and assembly tasks and the blind riveting of fuselage panels.

A particular feature of the system is the 300m, multi-drop air ring main, constructed from Atlas Copco’s AIRnet modular piping system. The pipework is made from robust, lightweight, powder-coated aluminium tube and designed for easy, low-cost installation with a large selection of engineered polymer fittings. Readily adaptable, AIRnet low-friction, seamless pipework is corrosion free so it minimises pressure drop in the system and effectively contributes to energy efficiency.

Commenting on the MAEL’s purchase decision, John Swords, the company’s team leader of Maintenance, Planning and Control said: "We were sufficiently impressed with the performance of the Atlas Copco compressed air solutions already installed at our Luton maintenance operation that there was no hesitation in specifying the system for this milestone development with complete confidence.”