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Home -- Blogs -- 7 Things to Know in Airplane Hangar Design

7 Things to Know in Airplane Hangar Design


Executive Manager: Plays a crucial role in strategic decisions and business growth.

Updated: May 24, 2024
Published: March 21, 2024
Designing an airplane hangar requires careful consideration of many factors that impact functionality, safety, and efficiency. From determining size and layout to selecting doors and planning for utilities, hangar design covers a wide range of elements. As you start an airplane hangar design, keep these 7 key things in mind:
Essential Tips For Airplane Hangar Design Shelter Structures

1.Size, Type, and Number of Aircraft

The foremost design decision focuses on hangar dimensions and layout driven by the aircraft fleet makeup and total unit quantity. For instance, consult with ownership stakeholders planning to base 6 narrow-body Airbus A320 jetliners along with 2 mid-size Cessna Citation business jets.

Reference aircraft specifications for key physical parameters. The A320 measures 111 feet 5 inches from wingtip to wingtip with a tail height of 38 feet 2 inches. The Citation spans 54 feet 5 inches with a 12 foot 10 inch tail height. Factor in minimum circulation allowances of 15 feet around wings and noses for single-aisle jets or 30 feet for larger widebodies.

Calculate total aircraft areas, including these 15-foot margins. Each A320 would occupy approximately 15,000 square feet. Adding the 30-foot allowance suits the larger Citation, resulting in 8,500 square feet per aircraft. Summing the individual aircraft areas equals 103,000 square feet for the planned 8 plane fleet. Further add in 3,500 square feet for a spare aircraft parking spot.

Additional spaces support workshops, parts/tool storage, offices, and other functions requiring, say, 18,000 more square feet. Applying a vehicle access lane allowance of 22 feet on all sides per code yields another 36,000 square feet. This collective spatial programming analysis indicates an ideal hangar measuring about 300 feet wide by 250 feet long, with appropriately sized door openings and height for the tallest tail. Appropriately right-sizing hangars based on quantifiable aircraft data sets the stage for fully developing aligned design details.

Size, Type, And Number Of Aircraft

2.Site of Construction

Selecting the physical location for a new hangar requires extensive evaluation of topographical and infrastructure factors. Survey the site area to determine weight-bearing capacities, load requirements, subsurface conditions, and drainage needs for founding the structure. Soil analyses should verify the presence of firm, stable soils and bedrock capable of supporting anticipated floor loads from large aircraft without differential settlement occurring over time. Topography maps detail surrounding grades and any needed earthmoving to establish level finished floor elevations connected logically to taxiways.

Heightened attention is necessary regarding adjacent airfield access to align the hangar doors directly with taxiway centerlines at proper clearance distances. This enables straight-in aircraft towing movements without complex turns near runway edges. Siting must also allow adequate setback buffers for aircraft holding, fueling, and surface vehicle access around the exterior. While hangars occupy large footprints, include reasonable space provisions in initial site plans to accommodate potential future expansions as well.

Stormwater runoff drainage fundamentals cannot be overlooked either. Receiving significant precipitation volumes from hangar roofs requires appropriately designed collection and discharge infrastructure integrated with the airfield’s overall stormwater management system. Control of related environmental factors will impact permitting processes as well. With aircraft fuel, oil, solvent, and cleaning chemical usage, installing wash water retention facilities may become necessary, too. Always check local jurisdiction ordinances for applicable height restrictions, setback limits, space ratios, and construction specifications tailored to the airport vicinity. The site survey and engineering studies inform all these core infrastructure integration strategies.

3.Hangar Door Design

The hangar door architecture requires matching operational functionality with durable materials suitable for the installation environment. Consider hydraulic lift-slide, horizontal bi-fold, vertical lift, or box-frame track-guided door types based on needs. Measurements must span aircraft tail heights with added overhead clearances while maximizing widths to enhance maneuvering clearances. For example, a 40m x 16m door opening may serve a typical narrow-body airliner fleet. Sturdy steel or composite door panel construction resists wind impacts over decades of duty cycles. Sections incorporate thermal insulation, too, given wide temperature extremes.

Appropriate door design adapts to local wind forces and directions, which vary by location. Prevailing winds may dictate vertical lift constructions instead of tiles tilting into gusts or those catching crosswinds. Designers aim to minimize lateral thrust loads and enable smooth electric motor-driven opening/closing movements. Doors also align operationally based on adjacent taxiway geometry and intended aircraft circulation flows. Integrate aviation yellow-green reflective markings along with visible flashing beacons activated during movements. Code requirements apply regarding emergency exits every 200 feet. Well-planned hangar doors promote safe, efficient aircraft transfers for years to come by fitting aviation use cases, climates, and taxiway contexts.

Hangar Door Design

4.Hangar Floor Plans

Hangar floor plans entail far more than diagramming aircraft parking spots. Develop circulation patterns that enable simplified one-way traffic flows for aircraft entering and exiting without complex turns that increase the risks of collisions. Connect aircraft operational zones smoothly with the access taxiway, including suitable fillet radii for safe towing at corners.

Position individual aircraft parking locations strategically to make the best use of the available space. For example, angled nose-in parking may fit more narrow-body aircraft along the sides compared to straight-in parking. Validate that the parking orientation aligns properly with door openings as well. Allow sufficient wingtip clearance distances between aircraft based on wingspans - a minimum of 15 feet is recommended. Also, ample wingtip buffer zones of 25+ feet along hangar side walls are provided for maneuvering.

Floor plans must designate areas adjacent to aircraft parking for necessary ground servicing vehicle access around each aircraft. Consider mobile stair trucks, fuel trucks, baggage and cargo loaders, lavatory servicing carts, and maintenance platforms. These high-traffic areas require concrete thicknesses exceeding 12 inches to withstand years of heavy equipment movements without cracking or settling differentially. Include additional zones for permanently parking aircraft tugs, tractors, and other ramp equipment. Define numerous access points from the interior shop and storage rooms to the hangar service areas for parts transfers, tools, etc. Develop vehicle flow patterns that prevent conflicts with aircraft operations. Finally, all infrastructure elements like lighting, ventilation, power outlets, and fire suppression systems should be connected logically throughout the space. Well-designed floor plans prove foundational for daily hangar functionality.

5.Traffic Flow

Integrating hangar aircraft movements with airport taxiways and runways demands collaboration on traffic management protocols. Designate suitable clearance distances from structures and pavement edges based on the airfield’s defined approach category and aircraft size class. For example, B-II standards require maintaining proper Object Free Zones, Runway/Taxiway Safety Areas, and obstacle-height restricted surfaces. Provide ample wingtip clearances as planes traverse any tight turns around the hangar, too.

Give consideration to aircraft right-of-way rules, temporary parking and staging provisions, perimeter boundary markings, and suitable jet blast protection zones. Airport signage, lighting arrays, and markings near the access taxi lane intersection must enable pilots to visually check for conflicts in all directions prior to exiting or entering the hangar area. Active coordination typically occurs between hangar operators and airport traffic control staff to sequence inbound and outbound aircraft movements appropriately. Optimizing hangar traffic capacity while minimizing apron congestion and delays proves essential for efficiency.

6.Staff Facilities

Hangar facilities must integrate ample dedicated staff work areas, equipment storage zones, and specialty aviation function rooms within the allowable building footprint. Specify appropriate sizings and locations for offices, conference spaces, testing labs, parts fabrication shops, maintenance bays, supply chain/inventory rooms, etc., to enable aviation professionals to perform their duties. Infrastructure provisions like power, lighting, ventilation, fire protection, and equipment access should align with each intended use as well.

Make allowances along vehicle access paths for safely staging aviation ground support equipment like tow tractors, belt loaders, cargo carts, lavatory service trucks, aircraft tugs, and fuel tankers without obstructing aircraft operational areas. Connect shop areas easily to parts storage rooms and staging space for tools, fasteners, fluids, spare components, etc. Adjacent spaces for staff lockers, break areas, and parking prove necessary, too. Well-planned hangar interior zones foster productivity gains for pilots, technicians, and other personnel.

Staff Facilities

7.Utilities and Infrastructure

Compatible hangar design intentionally meshes with airfield infrastructure for water, power, lighting, and drainage. Electrical loads can intensify, given extensive aircraft ground power usage and shop equipment demands. Specify the capacity for 400Hz AC current as well as 28V DC power with redundancy provisions that ensure that aviation operations continue uninterrupted. Lighting arrays switch between interior brightness suitable for maintenance activities versus darker settings for nighttime aircraft parking. Increase Internet backbone connectivity for Wi-Fi-enabled maintenance logging, inventory tracking, and communications.

Coordinate fire suppression, HVAC, and water supply integration along with civil engineering elements for stormwater, wastewater flows, and deicing fluid containment. Fuel farms inhabit separate zones, given flammability considerations. While connection points are numerous, avoid impeding aircraft movement areas with ground equipment access lanes wherever feasible. Purposeful utility planning prevents operational headaches down the road.

Airplane Hangars

Final Words

Airplane hangars constitute intricate structures with specialized functionality, unlike any other building type. They house tremendously valuable assets in the form of high-performance aircraft and related equipment. A well-conceived hangar design directly enables efficiencies, safety, and service longevity for aviation operations that happen every day. Committing proper attention to the considerations outlined here right from the beginning of your hangar development initiative lays the groundwork for smooth construction and operational success lasting many years down the road

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Contact Us

Make On-Demand Space Solutions Easier, Faster

SHELTER has a great team of skilled architects ready to support your project or Event at any time.

When you’re ready to start your next business, get in touch with us now, and our architects will get back to you with a quote as soon as possible.

Business Email

      [email protected]

Phone Number

      USA: +1 713-386-9281

        CN: +86 13928858552

No.1 Huanghe Section,Songshan Road, Chao Tian Industrial Zone,Shilou Town Panyu District,Guangzhou