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Friday | 26 June, 2009 | 6:33 am

Jet set

By John Loos

June 2009 - Just as you go the dentist for regular checkups, airline companies have to perform routine maintenance on their planes. This includes oil changes, safety and navigation equipment checks, filter changes, and re-lubricating landing gear, all to make sure a plane is in tip-top shape.

On Feb. 9, the Des Moines International Airport, Des Moines, Iowa, opened its Mesaba Airlines maintenance hangar, providing a regional pit stop for Mesaba’s fleet of Bombardier CRJ200 and CRJ900 planes. The $11.8 million, 80,000-square-foot building was constructed around a structural steel frame and contains 15,000 square feet of office space and 65,000 square feet of open hangar space--enough to fit four planes at a time.

Because pilots for Mesaba Airlines, Eagan, Minn., a subsidiary of Northwest Airlines, often land in Des Moines and stay the night, the hangar is a convenient and cost-saving maintenance resource for the company.

"It's just like if you and I look at our odometer and see that the oil needs to be changed," Roy Criss, a spokesman for the Des Moines Airport, told USA Today. "What they'll do is, they know when a plane's going to be due based on its miles or hours, and they'll schedule that plane for a flight to Des Moines."

Keeping schedule
To construct the hangar, Des Moines enlisted the help of Ceco Building Systems, Columbus, Miss., a designer and manufacturer of metal building systems. Ceco provided 36-inch, 26-gauge ribbed metal MAP panels and its Ceco CXP standing seam metal roof system to help builders construct the hangar, which features a 246-foot ceiling span with no support columns.

"This 246-foot clear span is possible because of the structural steel framing that allows the building weight to be carried by the exterior steel columns in conjunction with highly reinforced concrete footings, which are tied into the floor slab," said Klint Kruse, project manager for Dean Snyder Construction, Clear Lake, Iowa, in an in-house article released by Ceco.

The hangar also features a foundation of 10-inch-thick concrete with No. 4 rebar and a door 182 feet wide and 34 feet tall.

Remarkably, the structure was completed within its one-year time frame, even after Mother Nature got in the way. Three-fourths of the way through the construction process, a violent storm system moved through the area, with winds of more than 70 miles per hour. The hangar, which had almost all of its structural steel in place but no roof, suffered significant damage and repairs had to be made and battered steel had to be replaced. The contractor added temporary bracing to the steel frame to prevent further problems, and extra pipe struts were used to enhance stability.

"The main impact on the project was the delay in project completion," says Kim Holtgrewe, a Mesaba project manager at Ceco Building Systems. "Dean Snyder Construction worked with all the subcontractors and Ceco to complete project with minimal delays to completion date."

With more than 1.8 million passengers passing through Des Moines International Airport in 2008 and a dozen airlines offering service, a maintenance hangar like Mesaba’s enhances its reputation as an ideal stopover location. And for Mesaba Airlines, it now has a swift and easy way to ensure its fleet is problem-free. MM

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