Composite repairs demand a clean environment, for which humidity, dust and temperature control are critical. Buildair of Spain and J.B. Roche of Cork, Ireland, see portable, inflatable and reusable shelters as the solution.
“The shelters, once inflated, are totally supported by air at low pressure, making them safe for aircraft and maintenance personnel,” says Ian Nagle, managing director at J.B. Roche.
Even a hangar may not provide a sufficiently contamination-free environment, needed for certain types of repairs. “This is why our shelter systems have been designed to completely seal off the part of the area on which work is being done—whether the repairs are taking place inside a hangar, or outdoors on the ramp,” he says. The units are available off the shelf, or can be made to order. Nagle points out that shelters built for in-hangar applications perform the same functions as those designed for outdoor use, but can be built using lighter fabrics since they will not be subject to wind and other outside climate conditions. Given their lighter weight, they afford some cost savings along with easier handling.
J.B. Roche offers three types of aircraft shelters—for engine changes, fuselage and nacelle maintenance, and nose and windshield repair. Although the engine change shelter is the company’s biggest seller, Nagle says the increasing use of composites in airframes could double the company’s total sales rate, now at 4-5 shelters per month.