ATS has partnered with Aerospace Machining and Assembly Inc. (AMAI) on a suite of cargo bay protection solutions consisting of a cargo pit liner, side wall protectors and anchor guards. According to ATS, the products address the increasingly problematic issue of cargo bay damage, which can lead to aircraft gate delays and recurring maintenance expenses.
“What we’re hearing from our customers is that the cargo bay in general is becoming more and more of a pain point and a challenge,” says Gabe Doleac, ATS’ senior vice president of corporate development, adding that many touch points in the cargo bay are heavily trafficked and often beaten up. Doleac speculates that the issue could be getting increased attention lately due to a variety of factors such as carrying an elevated amount of cargo or changes in regulatory scrutiny for cargo bays.
“What we’ve done through this partnership with AMAI is try to work on protective solutions that can reduce the amount of damage, reduce costly delays when they happen and mitigate damage that has to be repaired on a semi-frequent basis, whether it’s at a C-check interval or through various routine overnights that an airline may have,” says Doleac. Through the partnership, ATS will help develop, market and distribute the suite of cargo bay protection solutions.
The first of the products is the cargo pit liner, which is created from Kydex plastic material that is thermoformed into a series of panels that can adhere to the floor of an aircraft cargo bay with no structural installation required. The panels, which provide roughly a half-inch thick protective cover for underlying floor panels and structure, are designed to withstand damage such as dents, scratches and liquid spills. Additionally, the panels are designed to be easily removed for easy access to the sub-floor or replacement as necessary. “If an individual panel sustains damage, we have patches that can be sold to repair an individual damaged spot or individual panels that can replace specific panels where there’s damage,” says Doleac. “The intent is that a kit of the pit liner is designed to bridge you between major C-check events.”
Augmenting the floor protection are the side wall panels, which connect to and overlap the cargo pit liner. The panels cover the side walls anywhere between 9-18-in. up and protect it from damage.
The final products in the suite are the anchor guards, which protect the tie-down anchors cargo nets that are attached to around the cargo bay’s inside doors. According to Doleac, the cargo net’s tie-down anchors often get banged up, which can prevent the cargo nets from installing correctly, so the anchor guards can prevent damage and keep them working as intended.
All three products can be ordered individually or as a package deal, depending on a customer’s needs or pain points. While the products are available today, ATS is in the process of pursuing a supplemental type certificate (STC) for formal certification. Doleac says the products already are flying under certain airline authorizations, but they will be available worldwide with STC approval in the next six months or so.