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Aircraft innovation in a fabric cover building from O.B.Wiik

It has been a while since Skien Airport was used for commercial flights, but right now something even more exciting is happening there. In a fabric hall from O.B.Wiik, something is being developed that can change the airline industry, all over the world.

Simple idea – complicated reality

It all started 12 years ago, when the founder’s brother got stuck at Schiphol due to snowy weather and a lack of de-icing. He himself worked in car washes and therefore came up with the idea: Could de-icing be inspired by an automatic car wash?

That idea was the start of what is now the world’s first automated system for washing and de-icing aircraft.
CFO of MSG Aviation, Jan Hansen, believes this could be big. Quite large.

– The industry is conservative, but Norwegian-made quality sounds good. With around 2,500 airports that need this, the potential is enormous, he says.

How does it work?

Today, de-icing and washing aircraft is a manual job, which both requires work effort, time and allows for human error. With MSG Aviation’s solution, this will be automated.

In the same way as an automatic car wash, an airplane will be driven into a hall and moving arms will go around the fuselage. It is not only for de-icing that the solution can be used. As of today, it can also be used for washing aircraft and engines and “de-sanding”. It is with others not only at airports in cold regions that they need the solution, but also in places near deserts and all places where aircraft are stored and washed.

A camera solution is also being developed, which can be placed on the “arms”. These can be used for inspections of the aircraft to check for damage, for example after “bird strikes” or lightning strikes.

Creates a more efficient and environmentally friendly industry

There are several major benefits to automating this process.

By removing the manual job, human errors will be avoided and time will be reduced. In addition, all processes will be standardised, i.e. use the same amount of time and the same amount of liquid, every single time. It makes it easier to calculate quantity and prevents waste.

By moving de-icing and washing into a hall, chemicals are also prevented from escaping into nature. Through drains in the ground, MSG collects the chemicals that can be used again.

– Clean planes also use less jet fuel. This means that we can save large costs for the industry, and that in an industry where small changes can make big financial differences. The system is safer, more efficient and more environmentally friendly than current methods, states CFO Jan Hansen.

Everything takes place in a specially made cloth hall

In this project, a canvas hall was used. Not only is it a relatively cheap solution that is easy to move, but it also comes with other advantages.

– Dukhaller is not considered a permanent building and therefore falls within the regulations for leasing. It is a big advantage for us, as we can lease out the building to airlines and other players, says Hansen.

The hall was developed together with MSG Aviation to give them the functionality they need and withstand the load of MSG’s system.

– The walls in the hall are reinforced to withstand the weight of the 3 traverses that hold the system from which the chemicals come out. As these arms will move around the fuselage, this was also something our engineers had to take into account when designing the solution, Hansen continues.

Flexible financing was the salvation

Hansen is clear about why O.B.Wiik became the right supplier.

For an innovative start-up project, funding was absolutely crucial. Through O.B.Wiik, MSG was given the opportunity to pay off the building over 5 years.

Unfortunately, the pandemic also came, which made it extra important to have a supplier who had confidence in the project and the ability to be flexible.

– We ended up in a situation where we had to say that right now we don’t have money, but we will get it in “X” number of months because then “Y” happens. O.B.Wiik gave us that trust and we delivered when we said we would. That flexibility was important, says Hansen

As part of the EU’s program “Horizon 2020”, it is important that the project follows the set deadlines for funding to be approved.

– When some unforeseen challenges arose, O.B.Wiik was good at following up and helped write a letter that explained the situation so that we didn’t run into problems, says Hansen.

Next test: Gardermoen

Now the test building in Skien has done its part and phase two is being implemented – a 3-year trial project at Oslo Airport Gardermoen. Here, MSG will set up a machine that will be used by aircraft in scheduled traffic, and O.B.Wiik will deliver the hall.

It will be a solid test of how the system works. With high traffic and the capacity of 15 planes per hour, the solution will be put to the test.

– Gardermoen is an airport with difficult conditions, so it is a very good test. If it works there, it works everywhere, concludes Hansen.

In O.B.Wiik, we are eagerly following the development and look forward to being part of the team when MSG goes out into the world!