Harrier hovers in
flexible aircraft handling
on a bearing of air, using Air Casters.
The Harrier was
introduced into military service in the seventies. It has a unique hovering
capability, and to see a jet aircraft stationary in mid-air is an awe-inspiring
Although the aircraft has seen many significant changes over
its lifetime, scheduled maintenance routines had remained much the same. With
the Airframes on stands, it was difficult to move until all its components had
been overhauled and the aircraft reassembled with its wheels back on.
Conventional material handling equipment was cumbersome to use.
The RAF Harrier Future Integrated Support Team (FIST) searched for a more
efficient method of handling their aircraft, with a focus on enabling the empty
fuselage to be moved between work cells during a 6-stage overhaul and rebuild
process. Solving introduced the concept of using a pneumatic air bearing pallet,
air film transporters. Each
transporter is 8.5m long, 4.0 m wide, fitted with air-powered drive units, air
casters (or also referred to as; air bearings) and a
remote control. The drive system allows the aircraft to be moved safely and
accurately forwards, backwards, sideways or rotated in either direction.
The air casters float the load on a thin
film of frictionless air, for safe handling.
Initially, six large Solving Transporters were built to RAF's
specifications, to enable a complete Harrier to be loaded, jacked, dismantled
and moved in stages through the hangar. At the final stage the aircraft is
wheeled off the transporter, fueled and made ready to fly. Today, more than a
dozen Solving transporters are being utilized by RAF.
Moving the largest wings ever!
FILM TRANSPORTERS FOR THE AEROSPACE INDUSTRY
AIR BEARINGS FOR AEROSPACE
only takes one operator to move a 35-ton, 130' ft. long Airbus A380 wing
to within millimeters on Solvings Air Film Transporter system.
To move the largest civilian
aircraft wings ever, those of the Airbus A380, a remote-controlled / IR-guided
Solving Air Film Transporter has been installed at Airbus at Broughton in the
According to Airbus, the A380, is "the largest, most advanced and
efficient commercial airliner ever conceived". This will be the world’s only
twin-deck, four-aisle airliner and it will seat 555 passengers in a typical
three-class interior layout. It is also said to be "more fuel-efficient than
The wings of this huge aircraft are consequently very large and during
manufacture they have to be moved from main assembly to final assembly. The wing
is lifted out of the assembly rigs onto the Solving Transporter by overhead
cranes. The Air Film Transporter raises the wing off the floor when it moves and
allows the wing to be positioned to accurate levels on special landing pads, at
the start and finish of the transfer.
This was the best solution for the wing transfer since it was impossible to use
overhead cranes. The floor remains smooth, flat and clear, free of any trip
hazards since no rails are laid. Using air film technology, the weight is also
well distributed, which minimizes the point loading on the floor.
The system is partly IR-guided, which means that it follows a painted line in
the floor. It can also partly be navigated using a remote control system. With
the Solving Mover system, the wings can now easily and safely be moved on air
casters and it
only takes one operator to move a 35-tonne, 40-metre wing to within millimeters.