April 19 - Volga-Dnepr Airlines' Engineering & Logistics Centre (ELC) designed a transportation frame to move a 59-tonne compressor from Zurich, Switzerland to Singapore on board an AN-124-100 freighter.

Measuring 6.5 m x 3.14 m x 1.96 m, the compressor was also accompanied by 2.6 tonnes of accessories.

The frame was used to spread the weight of the compressor throughout the aircraft's cargo cabin and protect the overhanging high voltage box.

"The compressor had an overhanging high voltage (HV) connection box attached to it via a cylindrical tube section. It was imperative we protected the HV box from any movement throughout the transportation process to avoid putting undue stress on the connection and causing any damage," said Volga-Dnepr's business development manager Alan Baldwin.

"The HV box couldn't be removed for transit because it contained sensitive electrical wiring which was directly connected within the compressor housing. The customer wanted to avoid sending an engineer to Singapore to re-assemble it, which would have added more cost and a potential time delay to the project build programme."

In preparation for the flight, ELC load planner Colin Taylor conducted a site survey to gather dimensional data in order for detailed Autocad drawings to be produced for the design and fabrication of the support frame, explained the airline.

The frame was manufactured in the UK and incorporated a detachable supporting arm to ensure it could be transported to Switzerland by road on a standard trailer. The arm was then reattached to the main body of the frame on arrival in Zurich, ready for the loading operations.

The flight was operated by Ruslan International and contracted by Pentagon Freight Services. The compressor is destined for use in a new oil rig under construction, which will be floated back to northern Europe for installation once completed.

Gary Provins, project operations supervisor at Pentagon Freight Services, said: "The shipment wasn't without its challenges. The main compressor wasn't designed to travel separately from its transport skid, which due to build schedules had to be detached and shipped separately a few weeks in advance.

"This meant finding a solution for loading, securing, and load spreading, which was achieved, while at the same time providing support for the critical and highly delicate HV box section of the compressor."