Six Man Rolling A-Frame Used Over Military Aircraft Mock-ups


An aircraft training and simulator facility located in the southern United States, handles outsourced manufacturing of F-22 Raptor aircraft mock-ups for pilot training/simulation for the United States Government. The manufacturing process involves the building of the F-22 mock-ups in three sections, the aft, the arm, and the landing gear. These sections can weigh up to 20,000lbs. Each section is treated as an individual work station and may be as high as 6 to 9 feet off the ground. Sections that include the top of the aircraft are sloped and have a pitch similar to that of the roof on a house.

When first setting up the manufacturing process, plant safety manager John Smith immediately recognized the serious fall hazards associated with the work stations. Multiple workers were going to need to get on top of these sections at the same time to put skin on the aircraft mock-ups. They would be carrying tools, need to climb ladders, and navigate the steep pitch on a daily basis. John was also well aware that OSHA mandates that over 4 ft., a fall restraint was needed.

John needed a system that was portable, non intrusive, and could accommodate 5,000lbs. of weight for up to 6 people. Workers also needed to have the ability to cross paths. John first explored the solutions that a traditional wire rope system might provide, but the thought of trying to have 6 workers tied on a system seemed like a nightmare. A traditional wire rope system was also unable to offer the portability that John needed. A traditional wire rope system had a ‘limited footprint,’ due to the need to move the mock-up section to the cable, and even considering moving a 20,000lb. section of an aircraft mock-up to the fall protection seemed foolish and inefficient. John also was dissuaded by the fact that traditional wire rope systems suffer from the serious flaw of initial sag, and significant freefall distance. Meaning that in the event of a fall, a wire rope system may prevent a total fall, but there could be serious bodily injury.


It was during John’s search for a fall protection solution that Rigid Lifelines sales rep Bud Lohr offered a presentation on Rigid Lifelines fall protection systems. John brought in his entire safety committee to hear this presentation. During the presentation, Bud highlighted the Rigid Lifelines Rolling A-Frame fall protection system. As he talked, John and his counterparts started to see the value that a Rigid Lifelines Rolling A-Frame fall protection system could offer their situation. The system seemed to perfectly fit John’s fall protection needs. The Rigid Lifelines Rolling A-Frame fall protection system offered portability as it could be rolled from workstation to workstation, and be locked in place when needed. It also allowed for up to six workers to hook up to a dual track system simultaneously, allowing them to work while protected, and easily pass each other as needed. Soon after the presentation, John called Bud to inquire about having a Rigid Lifelines dealer stop in to talk about a system. John’s company decided to invest in a Rigid Lifelines Rolling A-Frame fall protection system. Workers wheel the system up to the mock-up section they are working on, lock the wheels, then climb a ladder and latch onto the systems with a lanyard. The workers can then start their work, knowing they are secure.


Since the purchase, the Rigid Lifelines Rolling A-Frame fall protection system has aided in two fall incidents. In each incident the individual fell from the aircraft section and was restrained by the Rigid Lifelines Rolling A-Frame fall protection system. In each case, no worker suffered any bodily injury. The system is also convenient for John because unlike a traditional wire rope system, a Rigid Lifelines Anchor Track™ system does not have to be tagged and taken out of commission for inspection, it can continue being used, providing better workplace efficiency. Since the system has been put into place, John said there have been zero complaints. In his words, “When employees don’t like a new process at work, they complain, with the new Rigid Lifelines Rolling A-Frame, our worker’s have never complained once.”