A well thought-out strategy – for any project, business, industry or economy – is comprehensive, holistic and integrated in its approach. For the aviation industry this means developing and implementing a detailed site map for a safe, efficient, seamless and in today’s world, sustainable industry.
An important node in such a map and one that cuts across multiple sectors including airports, aircraft, maintenance, storage, charter services and FBOs is aircraft hangars. Though rarely mentioned or discussed, these vast structures are vital for the maintenance and protection of aircraft and therefore their lifespan. Multipurpose assets, they can be used to protect and store aircraft or be used to conduct inspections or maintenance and repair operations (MRO). While hangars are normally customized for aircraft type, location, costs and purpose will also affect their design. They can be fixed, portable or even inflatable.
Why are hangars an important investment for aircraft owners and operators?
Buying and owning an aircraft is an expensive proposition; it can cost as little as US$90 million or as much as over U$450 million with life spans ranging from 23 years to 30 years. Owners and operators therefore work hard to maximize their lifespans thereby not only increasing the cost-effectiveness of their purchase but also avoiding the cost of investing in a replacement. How long an aircraft remains airworthy depends on multiple factors including flight hours, pressurization cycles and of course maintenance.
Aircraft hangars are a key component of an effective aviation maintenance strategy. With the demand for air travel and aircraft skyrocketing, so is the demand for hangars. Therefore, the global market for aircraft hangars, worth US$720million in 2022 and is projected to grow to US$1 billion by 2029, a CAGR of 4.81%. These figures predate the massive investments in the aviation industry across the Middle East and India so these figures may well turn out to be conservative although current predictions suggest the MENA sector will grow at a CAGR of 3.9%.
There are four important ways aircraft hangars increase the longevity of aircraft:
Precisely because they are marvels of engineering, aircraft are sensitive to changes in their environment including temperature, humidity, moisture and UV radiation. To protect delicate electronic equipment and avionics from the vagaries of the weather, aircraft hangars are climate controlled to maintain optimal conditions. They also protect the more robust exterior and interior components from dirt, debris and the effects of corrosion. Meticulously designed to shelter aircraft from changes in the environment, hangars enable operators to reduce the costs of maintaining aircraft, improve safety, enhance efficiencies and reduce AOG time and extend the aircraft’s lifespan.
Aircraft are subject to rigorous maintenance schedules including inspections, repairs, upgrades and servicing. These are time sensitive operations, which if delayed by external considerations such as low visibility or bad weather can not only affect safety considerations but also operating costs by increasing the AOG time. Custom-designed hangars equipped with cutting edge equipment such as smart technology including cameras, sensors, artificial intelligence and the internet of things are critical to delivering a safe and efficient MRO and inspection environment. They provided the added and crucial advantage of eliminating externalities such as heat, cold, snow, rain or low visibility that could hamper or delay the work of maintenance teams.
While the highest return on investment or value of money can be gained by maximizing an aircraft’s flying time, some AOG time is inevitable for all aircraft. This is less of a concern for commercial aircraft operating fixed flight schedules compared to corporate and private jets which run on much more unpredictable schedules. So while commercial aircraft are either in the air or under maintenance in a hangar, private or corporate jets can be parked for extended periods. Hangars are therefore an important consideration to ensure their safety and security, to prevent unauthorized access, and to provide shelter for technicians, staff and crew in case of emergencies.
For the same reasons as above, getting and keeping aircraft in the air as quickly and safely as possible is an elementary feature of seamless operations and strong revenues. By providing a tightly controlled environment for crews to load, unload, clean, inspect and refuel aircraft, hangars minimIze turn-around times between scheduled flights. This delivers higher operational efficiencies which feeds into greater customer satisfaction and greater revenues.
Factor in technological advances, an emphasis on sustainability and green travel and rising levels of investment in airport infrastructure and it becomes clear that this sector is on the cusp of seeing dramatic changes. From inflatable hangars to smart ones, from drone technology to 3D printing repair services, aircraft hangar technology is transforming the way aircraft are inspected, serviced, maintained and stored. Significant investments in new airports and infrastructure modernization, particularly in Middle Eastern markets where design and architecture sit on a par with state of the art technology and seamless efficiency, suggest aircraft hangars are about to get a serious facelift.
As a leading aviation advisory firm with extensive operations in the Middle East, we specialize in building partnerships and strong relationships with service providers across the aviation value chain around the world. We are proud to be working with Gaptek, an innovative construction firm an global leader in the construction of modular hangars, state-of-the-art engine workshops and innovative MRO facilities.
For more information on the services we provide, get in touch with a KAMS advisor.