February 16 - Rapid Response Solutions has used a mobile crane to lift a corporate jet at Royal Air Force (RAF) Northolt in Middlesex, UK.
Rapid Response was contracted by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) Defence Supply Chain Operations and Movements (DSCOM) to lift the Aerospace 125 twin-engine mid-size corporate jet out of storage, move it 22 m across a grassed area of the airfield and position it on foundation slabs overlooking the runway.
Paul Barber, managing director of Rapid Response, explained that the shape and size of the 6-tonne aircraft did not present complications since it had built-in lift points and a documented lifting scheme, but the active airport environment and weather presented the largest challenges.
Moreover, the lift was to be executed in a MoD facility meaning that an extensive lift plan was required and all possible risks to its safe completion eliminated. For example, explained Rapid Response, the crane was required to have 25 percent spare capacity.
"Our lift supervisor briefed the engineers responsible for the plane on the lift day and everyone involved in the task was given clear instructions on their responsibilities. A project engineer was supplied to liaise between the lift supervisor, air traffic control and the emergency services whilst the lift took place," said Barber.
Rapid Response had worked out a maximum weight from the aircraft's specification sheets and an estimated weight based on the items removed prior to display. However, Barber explained that there was still an unknown quantity in the amount of ballast required to keep the jet level during the lift.
He continues: "The lifting points were fixed by the plane's manufacturer so the only way to correct the centre of gravity was to place ballast in the nose cone and cockpit of the plane in the form of 25 kg hand weights. Several trial lifts were carried out to get the balance correct."