Project Overview: Maintaining the World’s Largest Aircraft

Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) is the world leader in hybrid aircraft, which generate less noise, less pollution, and that have a lower carbon footprint and a better cargo-carrying capacity than virtually any other flying vehicle. The Airlander 10 is the world’s largest aircraft, at 92m long and 43.5m wide.

However, this unique cargo-carrying capacity also creates unique operations and maintenance requirements. In particular, accessing the engines, 12m off the ground, poses a challenge to ground crews aiming to conduct routine inspection and servicing of the Airlander 10.

In addition, while fixed-wing aircraft are typically restricted to the hard tarmac surface of a runway – and can therefore be serviced using scissor lifts or other vehicles – the Airlander 10 is able to land on a variety of terrain, and therefore requires a more versatile access solution.

The Solution: Personal Elevator Access

Altitec is the leading distributor and service partner for the ActSafe Ascender, a self-powered ‘personal elevator’ that enables technicians to ascend or descend a rope safely and at speed. ActSafe systems have been deployed for a number of years in a variety of sectors, from aviation to renewable energy and construction, providing operations and maintenance teams with the fastest, most cost-effective and reliable means of reaching hard-to-access locations and those at height.

Following an onsite demonstration of these benefits by Altitec’s IRATA-qualified team, HAV purchased two ActSafe ACX Power Ascenders. Altitec also provided rescue harness kits to the team. The purchase contract for the Ascenders included comprehensive end-user training for the HAV’s technical teams, and Altitec will also provide servicing and certification of safe operation of the units every six months, according to UK LOLER lifting equipment standards.

Outcomes & Benefits

The battery-powered, portable units enabled HAV’s ground crews and flightline operations teams to access both of the Airlander 10’s engines in a highly efficient and safe manner. The technicians were able ascend to either engine within 12 seconds of looping the rope into the ActSafe Ascender.

“When it comes to mechanical design, often the simplest solutions prove to be the best. It’s a philosophy that we’ve applied throughout the development of the Airlander – and the simplicity of the ActSafe Ascender compared to other access solutions fits right in with that.

The ACX units saved our inspection crews no end of time as we prepared the Airlander 10 to enter regular service, and will play a role throughout the operational lifetime of the aircraft to boost the efficiency of our routine maintenance and inspection.”

– Stuart Clough, Senior Mechanical Engineer, Hybrid Air Vehicles

The Altitec Team