Morgan Sindall had been contracted by Heathrow Airport Ltd and British Airways to modernise hangars at the West London airport in preparation for the arrival of the new airbus. This will allow greater flexibility of working space during maintenance and repair work on the British Airways fleet. The work involved extending one of the aircraft maintenance hangars and required a screening solution to keep the main part of the hangar operational, while building work was being carried out. A temporary, fire retardant ‘dividing wall’ needed to be erected to prevent dust transgressing from the building site to the ‘working’ side of the hangar and to protect personnel and valuable equipment on both sides.

The main challenge was the overall height of the hangar. Because of where the hangar was situated and the large opening to the front, there was also the matter of exceptional wind loadings to consider. The client had considered a scaffold sheeting system, but this would take up too much floor space, take longer to erect and not ensure a dust tight seal.

Morgan Sindall contacted Westgate Factory Dividers having seen work they had undertaken at other airports. The 67m wide x 28m tall Flexiscreen temporary system from Westgate Factory Dividers was specified as the ideal solution to achieve the desired result. Flexiscreen is made up of tough, flexible, lightweight and fire retardant material panels, which are suspended from roof steelwork and tensioned down using ratchets and straps incorporated in the design.

It is ideal for tall buildings such as warehouses, factories and aircraft hangars. For British Airways it was used to provide dust protection, but it also offers the benefits of being used as a barrier to contain heated or conditioned air or as an external weather barrier to create a temporary external defence wall whilst buildings are extended. The screen was installed by Westgate’s own specialist team within 4 weeks. It was hung on tensioned cable (with a dust tight hook and eye system) fixed to the hangar’s steel purlins.

Owing to the wind loading at British Airways site, 10 tonne ratchets and straps were required to restrain the screen system. In addition a boom lift was needed to access the hangar. A smaller cherry picker was used for the mezzanine area. The system has since been approved by British Airways and designated ‘recommended for use’ on other airport sites.

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