Air New Zealand will boost its MRO capabilities at its Auckland hub by constructing another hangar, which the carrier says will be the largest in the world built with a single-span timber arch design.
The 10,000 square-meter hangar is to be built at the airline’s engineering base at Auckland International Airport. Construction is expected to begin towards the end of this year, and will likely take about two years to complete, an airline spokeswoman said. The airline is not revealing the estimated cost of the project as “the final tender process [for the project] is still underway,” she said.
The new facility, to be known as Hangar 4, will be able to simultaneously accommodate one widebody aircraft such as a Boeing 777 or 787, and two narrowbodies such as Airbus A320s or A321neos. It will be about 1.5 times bigger than the carrier’s current largest hangar.
Air New Zealand already has two hangars at Auckland. Hangar 2 can accommodate one widebody and one narrowbody at the same time, as well as being able to “partially accommodate” a second widebody, the airline said. Hangar 3 can handle one widebody.
Both these facilities will be retained after the new hangar is built, the spokeswoman said. Hangar 4 will be adjacent to Hangar 3, with new workshops and tool stores connecting them.
“Our existing hangars were built in the 1960s and 1980s and while they have served us well, our fleet has grown both in number and in physical size over the past decades,” said Air New Zealand Chief Ground Operations Officer Carrie Hurihanganui. “We now have a need for a more modern, innovative structure that takes energy use and other sustainability factors into account.”
Hangar 4 will be constructed to the “highest standards of sustainable building construction and operation,” the airline said A double-layer insulated fabric roof will allow the interior to retain heat without the need for a heating system, while several large ceiling fans will circulate warm air back down to floor level in winter and provide a cooling effect in summer.
In another MRO development, Air New Zealand claimed an industry first this week with the on-demand production of a seatback part using 3D printing. While the airline has trialed 3D printing before, this experiment focused on its use in a “point of use, time of need” digital supply chain.
The airline ordered a digital aircraft part file from Singapore-based ST Engineering, which was sent immediately to components and systems provider Moog in Los Angeles. Moog printed the part, and it was installed on an Air New Zealand Boeing 777-300ER “within hours,” the airline said. The entire transaction was logged in Moog’s VeriPart digital supply chain system.
The specific part that was printed acts as a bumper, which sits behind business class monitors and prevents the screen from damaging the seat.