Traveling Bridges are Replacing Monorails in Aircraft Fall Protection
Aircraft Fall Protection
One common solution for large aircraft hangars and maintenance facilities is the use of flexible cable systems. With a series of long cables, workers can have safe access to every part of an aircraft, but cable systems have a few shortcomings. Unlike rigid rails, cables can deflect significantly during a fall event. Severe deflection can increase fall distance and the risk of swing fall, so it must be taken into consideration when designing a complete fall protection system.
Cable fall protection systems also restrict workers to moving in a straight line, which causes additional problems. When the fall protection system is limited to travel in one direction, workers are more likely to move off-center from their anchor point. When a worker’s fall protection is not directly overhead, the risk of swing fall—and the potential for serious injury or damage to the aircraft—can increase dramatically. To move sideways safely, the worker must get off the aircraft and connect to a different cable, then disconnect from the first cable, and return to work on another section of the aircraft.
By restricting workers to travel in a straight line, cable systems also limit the usable space inside a facility. Aircraft must be positioned in specific locations to be accessible to workers attached to a cable system, requiring facility managers to either sacrifice efficiency or use an enormous amount of cable.
Rigid Monorail Systems
Many aircraft maintenance facilities have begun using rigid rail monorail fall protection systems as safer alternatives to cable systems, as the rigid rail monorails address some of the concerns defined above. Rigid rail won’t deflect during a fall event, which reduces the fall distances and the risk of injury. Rigid rail trolleys can also move more freely than cable system anchors, keeping the worker directly below the fall protection and reducing the risk of swing fall.
However, rigid rail monorail fall protection systems don’t address all of the problems caused by cable systems in the aircraft maintenance industry. Monorails still restrict workers to movement in a straight line, which means workers still risk a swing fall if they move off-center. Like cable fall protection systems, monorails also limit the use of working space and require workers to stop working and move between monorails to access different sections of the aircraft.
The New Industry Standard
To maximize both safety and efficiency in aircraft maintenance and repair, the industry is turning to a different solution: traveling bridge fall protection systems. Traveling bridges can address every problem that comes with cable and monorail fall protection systems, which is why they are becoming increasingly popular with the aircraft industry.
Like rigid rail monorails, traveling bridges won’t deflect during a fall event, and they also allow a worker’s trolley to move freely along its path and keep it directly overhead. Unlike monorails, traveling bridges are not limited to movement in one direction. The bridge travels lengthwise between two steel runways, and the trolley moves side-to-side across the bridge, which allows a worker to move freely within a typically rectangular area while keeping the fall protection anchorage trolley directly overhead. The large rectangular area provides workers with more safe working space, dramatically reducing the risk of swing fall, swing fall injury, and damage to planes and helicopters.
The ability to move in more than one direction is important in the aircraft industry because of the shape of an airplane. With travel in a straight line, a worker can access only the plane’s fuselage or wings, but not both. Because a traveling bridge fall protection system allows greater freedom of movement, workers can access the wings and fuselage without moving to a different monorail or cable.
Traveling bridge fall protection systems also make the best use of the space available in a facility by providing more complete coverage than other systems. Traveling bridges cover a wider area than monorails, so aircraft can be positioned less precisely. By arranging multiple traveling bridge systems side-by-side, workers can also switch between systems to create an extremely large coverage area. Workers can access more of a facility’s floor space with fall protection, making the job safer and more efficient.
Traveling Bridge Systems
Rigid Lifelines Traveling Bridge Anchor Track Systems are ideal for large hangars for aircraft maintenance, cleaning, and repair. Systems can be mounted to a building’s existing supports or bolted to the floor with freestanding supports to find the best solution for your facility. Rigid Lifelines drop-rod hangers can also accommodate up to 14 degrees of slope for buildings with sloped roof supports.
The large coverage area provided by traveling bridge fall protection systems makes them perfect for applications that need to cover a large space. The trolleys move easily through the enclosed track bridge, so the system will provide constant coverage without ever slowing the worker down or getting in the way. Traveling bridges can be repositioned easily to allow workers to move freely across aircraft of any size in the safest, most efficient way possible.
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