Both the civilian and military aviation sectors have been showing an increasing interest in the benefits of installing gas-fired infrared radiant heating systems in aircraft hangars.
Radiant plaque (luminous) and tube heaters continuously prove their value in consistent performance, reliability and energy efficiency, and can provide a comfortable working environment for engineers involved in aircraft maintenance.
Aircraft hangars are notoriously difficult to heat by conventional systems for a number of reasons, including:
- when doors are opened, it can cause an air renewal of 1.0 in just 30 seconds;
- with systems such as forced air or in-floor heating warm air rises, forming warm air cushions below the roof; and
- in-floor heating can be slow to act because of the insulating effect of concrete floors and the potential heat losses between boiler and coils.
These problems are encountered in many types of large interior spaces, but aircraft hangars pose their own particular set of challenges for heating installations. The arrival of a large aeroplane that has been left outside in low temperatures can act like a gigantic ice cube, for example, causing interior temperatures to plummet.
It is important to compensate for sudden heat losses and to provide homogenous heat distribution in hangars in order for maintenance engineers to have consistently comfortable temperatures to work in. These highly skilled mechanics and technicians have critical tasks to perform, which must be carried out in an environment where no distractions are caused because of discomfort from extremes of heat or cold – these can lead to potential mistakes and, at the worst, serious risks to safety. It is obviously particularly vital to avoid errors of judgment when undertaking aircraft maintenance operations.
Gas-fired radiant heating technology has a range of features that can overcome temperature fluctuation issues. Because infrared heating systems transmit heat by means of electromagnetic waves, air movements caused by open doors have only a limited effect. A comfortable indoor temperature can be created and managed efficiently and accurately.
Infrared radiant heaters work according to the principle of the sun, and radiation penetrates the air nearly loss-free. This radiation is absorbed by objects such as floors and walls, which convert the energy into heat. It is worth noting that these types of heaters can provide major energy savings, with savings of between 30% and 50% frequently achieved when compared with conventional heating systems.
Gas-fired infrared radiant systems can provide major benefits to the challenging aircraft hangar workplace, ensuring that consistent, comfortable heating is supplied at all times – even when doors are opened and freezing aircraft are wheeled in.
Steve Sherman is the managing director at Schwank UK