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Hangar 1- Grand re-opening

Geilenkirchen, Germany - When Component Logistics Wing personnel sought to meet stringent technical requirements in its largest two-bay hangar, it turned to the base infrastructure office and local contractors for the solution.  With the work of several contractors and over a year’s worth of effort to renovate the lighting, fire suppression system and zone-specific heating systems, they achieved their mission by installing upgraded LED lighting and an indoor climate system to provide heating, reducing energy usage by  40%.

On Wednesday, 21 February 2018, Brigadier General Karsten Stoye, E-3A Component commander, Colonel Michael Mote, Logistics Wing commander, and Lt Colonel Eric Tramel, Maintenance Production Squadron commander, along with the German Engineering Office, officially re-opened the largest aircraft maintenance hangar on NATO Air Base Geilenkirchen, Hangar 1, after a year-long refurbishment project. 

The purpose of the project was to improve the lighting and heating systems and to rewire the fire suppression system in the hangar.

The total cost was €2.3M to provide the necessary working environment to meet the technical requirements for a more effective and safe maintenance environment to deliver 600 yearly flying hours to each E-3A aircraft.

Hangar 1 now provides the controlled work environment for all the major and minor airframe inspections and heavy maintenance performed by Phase inspection technicians and Fuselage technicians for the NATO E-3A Sentry as well as the support for USANG KC-135 tankers. Hangar 1 has a footprint of a European football field and the height of a multi-story building. The opening marks the end of a one year project to upgrade the aging hangar to provide a physical environment that meets or exceeds technical order requirements and occupational health standards and has a projected 40 percent reduction in energy costs. 

Since visual inspections are such an important component of aircraft inspection, accounting for almost 90% of all inspection activities, it is imperative that the task be performed in the most suitable work environment.. LED high bay light fixtures were installed to replace the pre-existing high pressure sodium mercury vapor light fixtures.  The LEDs provide better illumination, uniformity, coverage and deliver direct light and turn on instantly. The new LED high bay light fixtures help to improve work conditions, while simultaneously reducing maintenance costs, maximizing energy efficiency, and achieving desired light levels.

Heating such a large space was a concern for not only the working conditions of the technicians but also for the technical order guidelines covering a majority of the work performed on the aircraft. The aging system was unable to meet these vital requirements.  The contract sought to solve the constant temperature control as well as the recovery time for the hangar temperature after opening the  large hangar doors when moving an aircraft in or out of the hangar during cold weather conditions.  The contractors installed both a forced air system for rapid heating of the airspace as well as an overhead radiant heating system.  These heaters, when operating simultaneously, are best suited for heating the large area of Hangar 1.  They are able to provide increased thermal comfort for personnel and the aircraft while substantially reducing heating costs.  The combination of the two heating systems provides considerable fuel savings by allowing a lower interior air temperature to be maintained while providing personnel comfort, reducing heat stratification, reducing fuel consumption, and reducing building heat loss.

Under normal circumstances the contracted construction work that was required to bring the lighting and heating systems to standards would bring daily operations within the hangar to a grinding halt. However, NATO could not afford to lose the capability of such an important asset for such a long duration. There were over 50 contractors from 7 different companies that were working on this project at any given time inside the hangar space. Scaffolding and heavy equipment was needed to reach the high ceilings of the hangar.  With careful planning and the balancing of maintenance requirements, the work was completed in phases, closing down the entire hangar for only eight weeks and alternating the use of each dock for eight months at a time, which allowed for the continued operation of aircraft inspections and maintenance in the hangar.  Lt Stefan Kuehnel, Aircraft Servicing and AGE Branch Head, worked directly with the contractors and infrastructure office to ensure that work would be accomplished to required specifications and within the contracted time, as well as with a limited impact to the NATO E-3A mission. The hard work and dedication of the contractors and the cooperation of the LW and MPS staff technicians allowed for a smooth transition from a construction zone to a comfortable, safe and efficient work environment.

Story by NAEW& C Force Public Affairs Office

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