Multiple Monorails Improve Fall Protection System at Aircraft Maintenance Facility

Overview

An aviation maintenance facility on the East Coast cleans and repairs aircraft inside a large hangar. The aircraft that use the facility can vary dramatically in size, so they needed a versatile system that could cover long distances and account for significant differences in work elevation.

Before searching for a rigid track fall protection system, the facility used a system of cable lifelines to protect workers on top of aircraft, but this system had a few shortcomings. One of the biggest problems was caused by the supports needed to secure the cable lifeline system throughout the building.

The cables needed to be supported approximately every 25 feet to prevent sagging and severe deflection. With distances up to 100 feet, the lifeline system required intermediate supports, known as intermediates, along the length of the cables. The intermediates interfered with worker mobility while connected to a cable, as trolleys traveling along the cables could get caught, forcing workers to slow down or stop to free themselves.

The intermediates also caused potential safety hazards. If a trolley gets caught on an intermediate, the worker could accidentally walk too far ahead of the trolley, dramatically increasing the risk of swing fall. A trolley catching on an intermediate could also jerk the lifeline back, possible causing the worker to fall.


Solution

To address the shortcomings of the cable lifeline system, managers at the facility contacted a local Rigid Lifelines dealer in to find a better fall protection solution for their specific application. Together, they decided to use a system of Rigid Lifelines Ceiling-Mounted Monorails to cover the length and width of the facility.

Rigid Lifelines engineers worked with end user and the dealer to design the system to fit the facility’s needs and constraints. The primary engineering requirement for the applications came from the building structure; engineers had to ensure the support structure would be able to support the additional weight of the fall protection system as well as the force of arresting a fall.

The maintenance hangars are divided into four quadrants, and each quadrant requires an independent full-coverage system. Each quadrant uses six trussed-track ceiling-mounted monorails; two long monorails run the length of each section, ranging from 75 feet to 100 feet six inches, and four shorter monorails, from 61 to 75 feet, span the width of the building between the longer monorails.

Each monorail is designed to support two workers, allowing a total of 12 users to work in each hangar quadrant at a time. The monorails also provide enough coverage to allow workers to access the full length of the fuselage or wingspan of any aircraft parked underneath the monorails within the quadrants.


Impact

With a series of ceiling-mounted monorails, the maintenance facility is able to keep workers safe from fall injuries while servicing planes. The Rigid Lifelines Ceiling-Mounted Monorail systems offer freedom of movement that wasn’t possible with cable lifeline systems. Where the cable required intermediate supports that could catch and snag the trolleys, the rigid track supports do not interfere with trolley travel, allowing them to glide smoothly from one end of the track to the other without restriction.

Because the track allows trolleys to move freely, workers can travel the length of the track easily while keeping their SRLs directly overhead. By keeping their SRLs directly overhead, and with the use of Rigid Lifelines Anchor Trolleys, workers also reduce the risk of swing fall injury and improve the possibility to self-rescue in the event of a fall.

By reducing fall distance and swing fall, the new system protects workers on top of airplanes and ensures that workers will not make contact with parts of the plane or with the ground in the event of a fall. When the new the Rigid Lifelines Ceiling-Mounted Monorails in place, the workers and supervisors at the maintenance facility are “thrilled with the Anchor Trolley system and the ability to reduce swing fall.” Crews can now access many aircraft throughout the hanger for cleaning and maintenance safely and easily with the protection provided by their Rigid Lifelines fall protection.