Altitec Equips Airlander Crew with Innovative Ascender Access Systems
Altitec, the leading distributor and service partner for ActSafe Ascenders for the UK, Ireland and Baltic countries, has supplied Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV), the world leaders in hybrid aircraft, with battery-powered rope access systems that will change th
Altitec, the leading distributor and service partner for ActSafe Ascenders for the UK, Ireland and Baltic countries, has supplied Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV), the world leaders in hybrid aircraft, with battery-powered rope access systems that will change the way ground crews service critical equipment at height.
HAV is the UK-based creator of the Airlander 10, the world’s largest aircraft, which combines lighter-than-air technology with the capabilities of both fixed-wing aeroplanes and helicopters. The 92-metre long, 43.5-metre wide carbon composite vehicle produces less noise and less pollution than conventional aircraft and boasts longer endurance and better cargo-carrying capacity.
However, these attributes also create unique operations and maintenance requirements. In particular, accessing the engines, 12 metres off the ground, poses a challenge to ground crews aiming to conduct routine inspection and servicing.
Furthermore, 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 demands a more versatile access solution.
The ActSafe Ascender is 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 at height.
Following a demonstration of these benefits by Altitec, HAV has purchased two ActSafe ACX Power Ascenders outright. The battery-powered, portable units will enable ground crews and flightline operations teams supporting the Airlander 10 to access both engines in a highly efficient and safe manner. Indeed, technicians will be able to ascend to either engine space within 12 seconds of looping the rope into the device.
As part of the agreement, Altitec has also committed to provide rescue harness kits and comprehensive training in the use of the ascender to HAV’s technical teams. All ActSafe units return to Altitec every six months for servicing and certification of safe operation, according to UK LOLER lifting equipment standards.
“When it comes to mechanical design, often the simplest solutions prove to be the best,” said Stuart Clough, Senior Mechanical Engineer, Hybrid Air Vehicles. “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 will save our inspection crews no end of time as we prepare 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.”
“Across the aviation industry – and, indeed, across numerous construction and infrastructure sectors – reaching hard-to-access areas at height is a common challenge,” said Tom Dyffort, Managing Director of Altitec.
“There is a wide array of remarkably complex access systems and rigging setups designed to meet this challenge – however powered rope access is often overlooked. Seeing the ActSafe Ascender deployed to support such an iconic and innovative project should encourage some more creative cross-sector thinking about access strategies.”
ActSafe Power Ascenders are available in four different models, including battery, remote controlled, mobile power supply and petrol-powered units. For further information about the ActSafe Ascender and Altitec’s sales and rental packages, please visit – http://www.altitec.co.uk/actsafe/.