Vertical-lifting hangar doors shift the paradigm to more efficient and profitable airline operations, saving space, easing maintenance and removing the need for workers to spend time dealing with costly malfunctions. As the world’s most trusted brand of vertical-lifting fabric doors, Megadoor from ASSA ABLOY Entrance Systems provides airports with a simple way to increase hangar efficiency.

The airline industry is under a lot of pressure to improve customer satisfaction and deliver bigger profit margins. Also factored into the equation are the challenges of improving on-time departures and arrivals, enhancing worker safety and being as fuel-efficient as possible.

"Increasingly, hangar doors are becoming critical components in an airport’s operational efficiency," explains Mark Glover, president and general manager – hangar doors at ASSA ABLOY Entrance Systems, a high-performance door solutions provider. "Hangar operations largely dictate the uptime and availability of the commercial and general aviation aircraft used by private citizens and business travellers today."

Fiscal challenges particularly come to the forefront where line maintenance of large commercial jets is concerned. These jets only generate profits when they’re flying, so the longer the fleets stay in the hangars, the longer profits stay stationary.

Other contributing factors include less land and funds being available for building new hangars. Today, a new hangar is often squeezed in between two existing ones. There’s less room available to spread out a hangar operation than there was in the past.

Inside the hangars, space is at a premium too. Workers frequently experience cramped working conditions, slowdowns from extreme weather, and constricted areas for tool and equipment storage. Mandatory safety checks and pre-flight inspections also have to be squeezed in.

"What still counts the most, though, is getting the aircraft out the door on time," states Pierre Varlamoff, Megadoor – aviation business development manager. "When flights are on schedule, passengers can be processed through the extra security checks, and can make their connections safely and comfortably."

But here’s the catch: the bottom-rolling metal doors being used in hangars today are not 100% reliable. In fact, their parts corrode easily and their bottom rails have to be continually heated in winter. Dirt and debris pile up outside the door, energy leaks out from poor construction and, worst of all, they frequently stick in mid-operation, keeping planes and frustrated passengers stuck inside, and leaving business owners stuck with heavy losses.

The answer is vertical

Fortunately, an innovation in hangar doors offers a way to solve these challenges: a vertical-lifting fabric door. It works just like a garage door – you push the button and the door goes up; push the button again, and the door goes down.

The vertical-lifting door has a compact footprint – just 1-2ft deep, with no need for side pockets – versus the bottom-rolling doors, which are 6-15ft deep because of the required track system plus additional room for door pockets. The space savings are significant, especially where hangars are clustered and real estate is at a premium.

"Inside the hangar with the modern vertical-lifting door, it’s a better place to work," explains Peter Kristofferson, Megadoor European sales manager. "Owners and MRO professionals can place the aircraft where they want them, rather than constantly shuffling and stacking them for door space."

Another advantage, he notes, is the weather protection the door system provides. The door opens and closes quickly, keeping in comfortable, conditioned air. Vertical-lifting fabric doors can be installed everywhere from heated arctic hangars to air-conditioned line-maintenance hangars in the deserts of the Middle East.

Tight energy seals prevent air leaks and wind loads from shutting down operations in severe weather, and, because the door can incorporate translucent panels, travellers can enjoy natural light, and the operations crew can perform repairs, maintenance and safety inspections with improved lighting, instead of with the harsh, artificial lighting found in most hangars today.

Don’t hang about

Each door system can be tailored for the fleet mix that will enter the hangar by using multiple door leaves of varying heights. Individual door leaves can be partially opened for ground equipment movement, minimising conditioned-air loss and recovery time.

What will airport operations be like in the future? "One thing is for certain," Glover believes."Key performance indicators like mean time to repair will be more important than ever. Customer satisfaction and profit margins must also improve."

Business owners would be wise to modernise their hangar operations with vertical-lifting hangar doors. Work crews must fix and maintain sophisticated aircraft more efficiently, return them to service faster and avoid the breakdowns caused by metal hangar doors that are stuck in the past.