Maintaining helicopters so that they remain safe to fly will always mean personnel, at some stage, being forced to work at height.
Whilst the Work at Height Regulations (WAHR) 2005 stipulate to avoid work at height where possible, the sheer size of some helicopters makes this hierarchy of control impossible to achieve.
The maintenance of all types of aircraft, including helicopter, is referred to as checks, with a grading depending upon the time since the last inspection and the overall age of the aircraft. The older one of these aircraft gets then the more time that is spent examining it.
As in-depth inspections bring with them an increased amount of time performing a task, and if this job has someone working at height, then the associated risks need to be managed. To do so in a safe and timely manner requires access equipment that has been specifically designed to meet this requirement.
The helicopter maintenance access staging that Planet Platforms designs and manufactures takes these points and more into account. Firstly, they are mobile being set on swivel castors that can be swiftly brought into service and docked around an aircraft. These typically cover the port and starboard sides and rear sections, as this is where the main and tail rotor blades are located.
Closely contoured platform leading edges profile the respective sides, preventing the risk of personnel, tools, and materials falling to lower levels. The shore hardness of these rubberised paddings is also precisely chosen to prevent aircraft damage by being not too hard and conversely not too soft.
There are additional ways in which we optimise the design of our platforms so that maintenance personnel can get the optimum use out of them whilst the staging is in place.
Telescopic handrails, for example, that surround the main rotor platform working area can be lowered so that the blades can be spun without the risk of them hitting the staging. Piped platform air and electric outlets can be plugged into the maintenance hanger supplies, removing the health and safety issue of trailing cables, and mitigating the risks of trips and slips. Furthermore, the electrics can be wired to LED lighting strips that illuminate the area underneath the working platform.
All these lead to the increased safety of maintenance engineers that are working on our helicopter platforms. This could be for a matter of hours on a light A class check or for weeks on one of the deeper D checks. Either way, it is this adaptability to the task in hand that has seen Planet Platforms helicopter stagings deployed around the world.