Atlas Copco puts the air into aircraft maintenance at Monarch’s flagship facility22 September 2015

Monarch's hangar facility at Birmingham Monarch's hangar facility at Birmingham

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

MAEL is the engineering division of The Monarch Group. Its 110,000 sq ft state-of-the-art facility in Birmingham complements the company’s existing engineering operations at London Gatwick, London Luton and Manchester airports, and supports MAEL’s ability to provide both existing and new customers with first class maintenance, repair and overhaul services.

Compressed air plays an essential 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 utilisation 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 Ltd, 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 300 metre, 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.”

The MAEL facility in Birmingham can accommodate almost every aircraft type in its two bays. It incorporates industry-leading design and build standards and is one of the first to have the capacity for Boeing 787 Dreamliner maintenance, with sufficient capacity for other wide body aircraft, such as the Boeing 777, 747 and Airbus A350. The hangar is large enough to accommodate two Boeing 777-300ER aircraft or 10 narrow-body aircraft and contains a number of component-repair and back shops. The dimensions are impressive; the vast building, covering around 2.5 acres is big enough to house four full-size football pitches, 2,400 Minis or 450 double decker buses.

Mark Venables

Related Companies
Atlas Copco
Monarch Aircraft Engineering Ltd

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