UCAS Steps

UCAS Steps

UCAS Steps

The Challenge

Airlines operate a mixed aircraft fleet with no standardisation for the height at which the points of maintenance are set.  This means that when engineers need to gain access for routine maintenance, a number of pieces of equipment are required for the fleet.  Having to plan what equipment to be deployed has a knock on effect on the need to plan the logistics and the time taken to undertake tasks.

Limited time is available for maintenance during turnaround and at times there are considerable travelling distances between each aircraft and equipment stores.

In constant use, the new generation equipment needed to be light enough to be towed but durable enough withstand the required activity.  Damage to the aircraft by the equipment resting against the body was to be avoided.

Safety issues were a major concern with engineers using equipment at the wrong height for the job and using equipment without protective railings.  There was also a vital need to eradicate accidents as a result of engineers standing on boxes of oil placed on top of steps to reach maintenance points.   As this is all weather equipment, it needed to withstand a range of environments.

Solving the Problem

Working with some of the major airlines to establish the access height requirement relating to their engineers’ tasks, how they worked and how they could rationalise what they currently used, a modular family of steps was designed and manufactured to cover all aspects of maintenance requirements.  A fixed height set of steps was designed for general maintenance at low level up to 1.8m and a variable height set for an access range of 1.8m – 2.25m, or 2.2m – 3.2m, or 2.9m – 4m, or 3.5m – 4.5m. 

As the new access steps needed to be quick and easy to manoeuvre an inbuilt suspension was used to tow the steps at a speed of up to 30mph.  This required the steps to be light but robust which was overcome by building light weight, aluminium steps on a steel chassis using bolts rather than welding, giving superior strength.

Handrails were designed to rotate up to 180⁰ to suit all types of aircraft and their position on the equipment changed depending upon access needed.  The handrails closed behind the engineer with the ability to lock as a further precaution.  Sliding handrails could be slid forward and back or fold flat to allow easier access when working beneath the aircraft.

Ultra violet resistant paint was used and robust padding added to the design. 

Once in position a rapidly deployable jacking system gives a solid stable working platform for a 2 man working load with access using non slip step treads.

The Benefits

Significant cost savings could be made as steps multi-functionality reduces the number of pieces of equipment required together as well as saving of engineers’ time as the time between tasks is shorter. 

The combination of aluminum steps and steel chassis gave good impact resistance, high rigidity and a weight reduction over steel of two thirds.  The quality appearance is maintained by the design and materials which gives the equipment a long lifespan and the padding avoids costly damage to aircraft during the maintenance activity.  No additional finish, galvanising or painting is required.

These steps allow access to all major maintenance points on the aircrafts.

The modular design allows for possible future modification for alternative future use and is fully recyclable.

Since the implementation of this equipment, there has been a significant reduction of falls from height. 

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