40 Years Ago: Special steel dock for aircraft tail, Gatwick Airport

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40 Years Ago in BUILDINGWITHSTEEL Special steel dock for aircraft tail Constructed to simplify the servicing of the huge VC10 jets of the British United Airways’ fleet at Gatwick Airport, this interesting dock is in halves which move inwards so that the catwalks completely encir- cle the tail unit. The huge steel framed hangar built to house encircle it when both units are brought third flight is from the 18 ft. level to the 25 VC10 jets of the British United Airways’ fleet together. ft. catwalk level. The function of these two was one of the major buildings completed at The fixed unit is mostly constructed from platforms is to provide direct access to the Gatwick this year. It was described in Vol 3, 6 in. by 6 in. stanchions and 7 in. by 4 in. two cantilever catwalks on the retractable No 5 of Building with Steel (and in this section beams, braced with rectangular hollow sections units. The fourth flight of stairs leads to the of NSC Vol 13, No 1 forty years later). The (RHS) of various sizes: these were fabricated 35ft. level giving access to the top platform of hangar incorporates a number of interesting throughout as single items for site bolted the reatractable units. features including 191 ft. cantilever roof truss connections. The framework of retractable Each retractable unit weighs 8 tons and on girders which allow for an exceptionally large units is of similar dimensions: the catwalks the base frame there is a series of rigid castors unobstructed area of floor space. are fabricated from RHS sections delivered as allowing movement of the units along metal A tail dock of original design has now a fully-welded unit complete with guard rails tracks laid flush with the floor. Each unit is been constructed against the rear wall of this and ready for bolting to the main frame. A capable of up to 11 ft. sideways movement hangar to facilitate servicing of the tail plane, feature of the cantilevers is the provision of by hand-operated 2 in. diameter lead-screws, elevators, fin, rudder and port and starboard hinged flaps in the floor at each level which accurate alignment parallel to the front of the engines of an aircraft, all of which are a allow the rudder operation to be checked fixed unit being ensured. considerable height above floor level. The while the whole tail plane is fully enclosed by For servicing purposes the aircraft enters design of the dock is such that all of these the dock. Each of the three units is designed the hangar tail first and is brought up to the vital parts can be inspected and serviced at to carry loads of up to 80 lb./sq. ft. fixed unit. Then, in a matter of minutes, the the same time. Immense size retaractable units are moved in from the Composition of the dock Some idea of the size of the dock may be sidesuntil the two sets of catwalks completely The dock comprises three structures, a central gained from the fact that the fixed unit encircle the rear of the machine. fixed unit and retractable port and starboard weighs 14 tons and has a base area of 50 ft. This tail dock was prodced as the result of units. Integral with each retractable unit are long by 15 ft. wide and is 35 ft. high: it has four a combined effort by British United Airways’ two cantilevered catwalks which encircle half flights of steps. The first two flights terminate engineers and the design staff of the steelwork the rear end of the aircraft and completely at a landing at the 18 ft. catwalk level: the fabricators. 36 NSC January 2006


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