News story: DIO delivers first stages of maintenance facility for new RAF transport aircraft


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The hangar, which will be used to maintain Airbus A400 Atlas four-engine military transport aircraft, is the first construction contract DIO awarded under its Next Generation Estates Contracts (NGEC) national framework, which procures building and civil engineering projects valued at up to £50 million.

DIO’s contractor Balfour Beatty, working with Barnsley-based Billingtons Steel, has now lifted into place the first of the 90-tonne, 10m-deep primary trusses, using a complex tandem lift requiring two 168-tonne crawler cranes. This is the third phase of the four-phase project. DIO delivered Phases 1 and 2 and will deliver Phase 3.

Phase 1 involved the relocation of a colony of great crested newts and provision of new emergency water storage. Costing £750,000, this was completed in June 2013. Phase 2 cost £13.2 million and covered risk mitigation works comprising site clearance, ground works to remediate and level site, service diversions (high-voltage and communications cables and mains water), re-locatation and provision of new storm water attenuation tanks and new pavement-quality concrete aprons. This work was completed in March 2015.

Phase 3 will cost £42 million and will see the 3 bay hangar, gantry cranes, aircraft ground equipment store, forward support stores including engine and tyre bays and 3 story office/amenities block built, with a due completion date of May 2016.

In the final Phase 4, Defence Equipment & Support and Airbus will complete the facility’s internal fit-out.

The 3 bay hangar is designed also to accommodate C17 freight and A330 personnel aircraft and includes a 3 storey office facility. It will cover 24,000 square metres, and building it will use 3,000 tons of steel.

DIO Project Manager Denis Williams said:

This is a significant project as part of DIO’s work to enhance the UK’s military capability. We are looking forward to working with Balfour Beatty and the RAF to get this new hangar ready on time and on budget.

Given the scale of the project and the need to keep all this work from interfering with Brize Norton’s on-going operational role, the project would not have been possible without the close collaboration between DIO, the RAF, Defence Equipment & Support, Airbus Military and our contractors and their supply chains. Everyone has worked very hard to get to this stage, and we are all enthusiastic about the next phase.

Andy Duff, Balfour Beatty Delivery Unit (South) Managing Director, said:

We have extensive experience of working in the defence sector and at RAF Brize Norton. The start of the 3000-tonne hangar and office steel frame is a major milestone on this strategically important. The overall planning, design and procurement of the job are very well progressed. Hopefully the good weather will stay with us to enable rapid construction through to handover.

The hangar is due to be ready to receive its first planes in summer 2016.

The RAF has bought 22 Atlas, which uses components from UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Belgium, South Africa and Luxembourg, to replace its C130K Hercules transport aircraft. The Atlas can fly almost twice as fast, twice as far and carry almost twice as much cargo than its predecessor.

The Atlas fleet will be operated by 70 Squadron at RAF Brize Norton. A new standard was recently presented to the squadron by the Princess Royal to mark the aircraft’s entry into service.

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