Airport Business - 37

Cargo handling buildings and other airport facilities can be
optimized for the intended application in the initial design
without over-engineering and adding unnecessary cost.

self-extinguishing in the event of fire.
Rather, the key question is whether the
building is strong enough to support a
fire suppression system on its frame in
the first place. This again, goes back to
the misperception by some that "fabric
structure" somehow equates to a lightduty tent.
With rigid-frame engineering,
any type of hanging load that will be
suspended from the roof - including
sprinklers or foam systems - is accounted
for in the original design. Engineers
use finite element analysis software to
optimize the size of every individual steel
beam for the intended application and
anticipated load. This way, the needed
strength is efficiently built into the frame
at all appropriate locations without overengineering the entire building, which
would add unnecessary cost.
A fire suppression system, however, is
just one of many possible hanging loads
that a user may require for an aviation
building application. Lighting and HVAC
systems are other common features
implemented into a fabric structure.
Overhead cranes are another hanging
load typically found in MRO facilities
at airports for tasks like aircraft engine
repair or even just light tune-ups.
Between the weight of the crane itself
and the items being moved, users need
to be confident that a fabric building's
frame will hold up under the strain of
daily crane use.
For hangars housing large aircraft, the
hangar doors alone - which can measure
in the hundreds of feet wide - demand
substantial load support from the building
frame. Where traditional fabric structures

were limited in the hangar door sizes
they could handle, the major door
manufacturers have stated that quality
rigid-frame fabric buildings can support
even their most massive door offerings.
Baggage handling is another building
application where frame strength comes
into focus. In this case, the structure is
equipped with conveyors that are moving
live loads that fluctuate throughout the
course of the day. Such buildings may
also require catwalks for personnel to
maneuver around the conveyors and
correct potential problems. Building
engineers must account for all these
changing load factors when working on
the initial design.
Collateral loads can be applied
to the exterior of a rigid-frame fabric
building as well. For example, stronger
architectural design can support the
weight of solar panels on the roof. With
the right setup, some aviation buildings
have been able to add enough solar panels
to operate entirely off the grid.

Light Years Ahead
A big reason that aviation professionals
look toward fabric buildings in the first
place in that fabric roofing is highly
translucent, allowing abundant natural
light to enter uninsulated structures and
reducing the need for electric lighting
while working during the day.
While this benefit has long been
known in the industry, advanced PVC
fabrics have brought even more longevity
and performance to fabric membranes
while still allowing sunlight to illuminate
every corner of a building. The bright
interior of a fabric structure consistently
stands in stark contrast to the dark,
shadowy corners of metal buildings.
A question that is not unique to
fabric building suppliers, but rather that
applies to all construction contractors in
general, is how quickly the entire process
can be completed. It's a fact of life in
almost any industry that by the time the
decision is made to move ahead with
a new building project, the need for it
already exists. This is especially true in
aviation where the cost of a structure

often pales in comparison to high-value
assets like aircraft, which need to be
covered quickly and confidently.
Tension fabric buildings can be
provided much more quickly than tiltup construction or other conventional
methods - up to four times faster, in fact,
depending on the supplier.
Another factor in delivery time is
what the supply chain looks like. While
many fabric structure suppliers outsource
their frame and fabric manufacturing,
some industry leaders have invested
in their own on-site facilities and
personnel to manufacture steel frames
and components, as well as produce
the fabric panels. With more control
over the whole process - including the
engineering phase before manufacturing
begins - fabric building companies can
ensure both faster project delivery and a
higher quality product.
Taking this a step further to
become a full-service one-stop shop,
some manufacturers employ their own
in-house professional installation crews.
Having dedicated personnel naturally
makes each construction project more
efficient and helps ensure the work is
done right the first time, and on time.
The nature of the business and the
fact that airlines are typically constructing
on leased airport property presents
something of a conundrum: The building
must be solid enough to handle all the
required tasks, but its intended period of
use on the site may be less than 10 years.
Many fabric buildings are engineered
to be permanent, but are designed
to be portable. Should the need arise,
the buildings can be disassembled and
re-constructed on a new site.

Optimized Solutions
A lot is at stake, so it's natural to be
thorough and question what various
fabric building manufacturers can truly
provide. A proper engineering solution
will answer all those questions and then
some, allowing users to accomplish all
their goals, and to do so with complete
peace of mind. 



Airport Business

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Airport Business

Inside the Fence
Industry Update
On the Wild Side
Change for Good
Cover Story: Economy Inflight
Williston Takes Flight
Enhance Airport and Airline Relations
FBOs and OEMs: Strange Bedfellows
Airport Guru
Solid Answers for Successful Airports
Product Focus
Animal Control on the Runway
Airport Business - 1
Airport Business - 2
Airport Business - 3
Airport Business - 4
Airport Business - 5
Airport Business - 6
Airport Business - Inside the Fence
Airport Business - Industry Update
Airport Business - 9
Airport Business - 10
Airport Business - 11
Airport Business - On the Wild Side
Airport Business - 13
Airport Business - 14
Airport Business - 15
Airport Business - Change for Good
Airport Business - 17
Airport Business - 18
Airport Business - 19
Airport Business - Cover Story: Economy Inflight
Airport Business - 21
Airport Business - 22
Airport Business - 23
Airport Business - 24
Airport Business - 25
Airport Business - Williston Takes Flight
Airport Business - 27
Airport Business - Enhance Airport and Airline Relations
Airport Business - 29
Airport Business - 30
Airport Business - 31
Airport Business - FBOs and OEMs: Strange Bedfellows
Airport Business - 33
Airport Business - Airport Guru
Airport Business - 35
Airport Business - Solid Answers for Successful Airports
Airport Business - 37
Airport Business - Product Focus
Airport Business - 39
Airport Business - Animal Control on the Runway
Airport Business - 41
Airport Business - 42
Airport Business - 43
Airport Business - 44