Norwegian Air Shuttle has joined the ranks of aviation companies that use mini crawler cranes to lift and position heavy aircraft parts during MRO work in the confines of maintenance hangars.
Oslo-headquartered Norwegian Air Shuttle, which is the largest airline in Scandinavia, has taken delivery of a UNIC URW-547 mini crawler crane from Knutsen Maskin AS, the Norwegian distributor for the UNIC crane product line.
Norwegian will use the URW-547 crane for servicing and maintenance work on its aircraft in maintenance hangars, confirms Anders Kiel of Knutsen Maskin AS.
“The fact that the design of the aircraft hangars doesn’t allow overhead cranes normally makes the service and maintenance work on aircraft quite a challenge,” says Kiel, adding that because UNIC mini cranes are very portable, quick to set up and versatile, they are ideal for heavy-lifting operations inside hangars.
The URW-547 provides a maximum lifting height of 18.2 metres and a lifting capacity of 4 tonnes. The crane owner also has the option of adding more length to the URW-547’s lifting boom by using a quickly installed searcher hook, which provides lifting angles varying from 0 degrees to 60 degrees and a lifting capacity of up to 500kg.
Kiel says the URW-547 crane is fitted with a 400-volt electrical power system and is operated by wireless remote control.
“UNIC mini cranes are proving their worth as practical lifting solutions for projects in the aviation industry. UNIC mini spider cranes have already been hired and sold to customers working in some of Europe’s major airports, to provide quick and safe solutions for lifting aircraft parts during important maintenance work,” says Graeme Riley, CEO of UK-based UNIC Cranes Europe.
A subsidiary of UK-based lifting and vacuum-handling specialist GGR Group, UNIC Cranes Europe is the European master dealer for UNIC Furukawa, the Japanese company which manufactures the mini crawler cranes.
These cranes are also known as "mini spider cranes" in the lifting and hoisting industry, because they have several extendable legs which are extended to provide stability during lifting operations.
Another aircraft operator which has used UNIC spider cranes in MRO operations is the Royal Air Force. In 2013 it began using two UNIC URW-376s – which are smaller than the URW-547 and only have a 2.9-tonne lifting capacity – purchased by the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) in 2012 from UNIC Cranes Europe to support MRO work on the RAF's Chinook helicopters at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan and at RAF Odiham in Hampshire.
The MoD acquired the two spider cranes after rigorously testing a URW-376 to ensure that the crane was robust and reliable enough to perform satisfactorily under military operating conditions.