Doors for aircraft hangars

February 5, 2019

Choosing the right aircraft hangar door can make a huge difference in efficient operation and energy-efficiency. This is getting increasingly important as the growth of low-cost airlines has resulted in the construction of new maintenance hubs at airports around the world.

The last decades have seen an extraordinary growth of low-cost airlines in the aviation industry. Making airborne travel more readily available at a moderate price has not only meant that people can afford to travel more often and over longer distances, the very business model has had an enormous impact on the aviation industry itself.

Part of this new business model is keeping more aircrafts in the air, and once on the ground, their turnaround times have become shorter with on-demand maintenance. This in turn calls for changes in airport infrastructure, which have increased the needs for aircraft hangars. Where possible, many low-cost airlines prefer to establish their own maintenance hubs with their own hangars.

Choosing the right door is crucial

The design and construction of an aircraft hangar involves several stakeholders, all with their individual requirements. Typically, the airline and the architect will be involved early in the project, with the airport and the construction company entering at a later stage.

When constructing an aircraft hangar, the door usually amounts to 50 or 60 percent of the total cost. With that in mind, it is crucial to choose the right door at the very start of the process. Establishing a direct contact between the airline and architect side and the manufacturer has proven a clear success factor.

The smart way to build hangars

Aircrafts have got wings. Which rather goes without saying, but for people that design and build aircraft hangars, this statement takes on a different meaning. To accommodate the shape especially of large aircrafts, hangar doors have to be extremely wide, but generally not that high.

Traditionally, aircraft hangars have used bottom-rolling doors with horizontal operation. This calls for bottom-rolling door pockets and tracks which will use up precious space.

A smarter way to do it is to use hangar doors with vertical operation, which will significantly reduce the hangar footprint. Real estate is a commodity at airports, and with a vertical solution it might, depending on the needs, be possible to build a larger hangar than expected, or even two hangars instead of one in a plot. Or maybe build a smaller hangar in a smaller plot to save money.

Systems for optimal flexibility

Taking the concept of vertical door operation a step further, an even smarter way is to use sectionalized, multi-door systems. Depending on the needs at hand, only one door can be opened at a height to let ground equipment in or out.

The opening of the doors can easily be adjusted to the size of different aircrafts, and to the shape of the aircraft, where the wing doors don’t have to be opened as high as the fuselage door. This is an energy-efficient solution, which unlike bottom-rolling doors, keeps much of the conditioned air inside the hangar. With vertical operation doors, it is also possible to get tighter seals, which adds to the energy efficiency.

Avoiding door failures

Naturally, there are other requirements that go into designing quality aircraft hangars. Security and maintenance-friendly operation are obvious ones together with reliability. You don’t want your Airbus A320 stuck in the hangar, with some 230 passengers missing their flight, because there was a hangar door failure. And you must be able to rely on your hangar doors, no matter if the airport is in Alaska or in a tropical area prone to hurricanes.

Find out more about how vertical lifting doors add flexibility, energy-efficiency and other benefits when designing aircraft hangars at