Compressed Air Scales to New Heights

The diverse use of compressed air systems is exemplified in this case study and video. A recent installation by compressed air specialists O’Neill Industrial took place in a newly constructed hangar at Shannon Airport where compressed air is used to spray paint on up to three aeroplanes at a time.

The wide-body hangar is Ireland’s first aircraft hangar to be constructed in almost 20 years.  Costing €18 million, the 92,000 sq ft specialist aircraft painting hangar can accommodate multiple aircraft types up to and including the world’s largest passenger aircraft.

The project involved the construction of a steel framed wide-body aircraft paint hangar and internal ancillary office space, workshops, plant rooms and storage space. The environmentally controlled paint hangar utilizes the very latest in modern aircraft painting techniques and equipment to ensure the highest quality standards and stringent regulations are met.

Shannon Group leased the hangar last year to IAC – International Aerospace Coating, a leading global aircraft painting, interiors and graphics specialist.

Aircraft painting is a big business. The cost of fuel is, by far, the most significant expenditure when considering total aircraft operating costs. The Aircraft surface coating is significant in reducing aircraft aerodynamic drag. If drag is reduced, the required fuel burn will decrease making air travel more efficient and environmentally friendly.

As a global industry leader, IAC chooses only to work with suppliers that they can trust to deliver services and products that align with the high standards that they set for themselves.

Don O’Malley & Partners, a leading consulting engineering practice specializing in Mechanical and Electrical Building Services Engineering, was appointed as mechanical design consultants on the project, who in turn recommended O’Neill Industrial to supply the large-scale compressed air system and pipework.  O’Neill Industrial then worked closely with mechanical contractors LMC who installed and qualified the system.

The Criteria

Sustainability and efficiency were key parameters in the design process of the new hangar, with all maintenance and engineering equipment chosen for maximum efficiency. The environmentally controlled hangar features an air recirculation system for extraction and a heat recovery system for exhaust air.

The three key criteria considered when sizing the compressors were pressure, air demand and Air Quality. Therefore, the compressed air system includes two Ingersoll Rand R110 Nirvana Variable Speed Air Compressors for maximum energy efficiency and two Ingersoll Rand Refrigerant Type air dryers and Filtration sets to provide clean and dry compressed air which is critical for the application of paint to aircraft.

To route the air from the compressed air plant around the entire facility, more than 550 metres of piping was required. Having undertaken many pipework installations, O’Neill Industrial recommended the PPS1 Aluminium range from Prevost as it meets the compressed air needs of most industry sectors.The Prevost system is also designed to be leak free and provide the maximum flowrate for a given pipe diameter.

Speaking on behalf of LMC, Trevor Whelan said, “The Prevost pipework was an excellent product. We hadn’t used it before, but it was very easy to install and ideal for the scale of the project. O’Neill Industrial provided product training to LMC personnel and gave great support throughout the installation phase.”

Austin O’Neill, O’Neill Industrial, said “The main driver for purchasing Ingersoll Rand equipment was the reliability of their equipment and O’Neill Industrial’s proven track record in the Compressed Air Industry. A reliable compressed air system is crucial to the hangars operation. If the compressor stops, the operation stops and that is not an option for IAC.”

Liam Kavanagh, Managing Director at Don O’Malley & Partners, said, “On projects such as this, we endeavour to work with the most technically competent, experienced and reputable suppliers to ensure successful sustainable projects in line with client’s requirements. We were delighted with the compressed air package supplied by O’Neill Industrial on this project and the contribution from everyone concerned. The result is a state-of-the-art climate-controlled hangar that makes it easy to do a high-quality paint job.”

Watch the video

We are the compressed air specialists in Ireland. If you have any questions relating to this case study or compressed air solutions in general, please contact Austin[@]

Facts about the Hangar:

  • The hangar is capable of accommodating some of the world’s largest aircraft and could for example; fit three narrow-body aircraft at the same time.
  • The floor area of the hangar is 92,000 sq ft:
  • It could fit 30 full size tennis courts
  • It could accommodate 34,000 people, standing – almost the equivalent of the combined population of Ennis and Shannon Towns
  • It could fit 860 average saloon family cars
  • It could hold over 5 Olympic swimming pools
  • Over 1,200 tons of structural steel was used in the construction – the equivalent weight of 860 average family cars.
  • Over 9,000 cubic metres of concrete, or 1,100 truckloads of concrete, was used in the construction of the hangar.
  • The hangar has been designed to the highest safety standards with its own bespoke fire suppression system.
  • The new hangar is the tenth hangar to be constructed at Shannon airport, the largest hangar footprint of any Irish airport.