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requirements set forth by OSHA, and most were time consuming to assemble and often failed to provide access to critical areas. Fortunately, the designs and construction of aviation work stands have evolved, resulting in platforms that are more efficient, effective and easy to work with, while assuring compliance with military and civilian safety regulations. Today’s user-friendly aviation stands are engineered to not only provide a safe work zone but to also facilitate efficiency, reducing overall process times and accidental component damage.


Phase systems vs. point-access stands Maintenance stands generally fall into two categories: aircraft-specific phase maintenance systems, which are designed to interface flawlessly with one specific type of aircraft, and multipurpose “point-access” stands, which are versatile enough to be used on many different sizes and types of aircraft at multiple maintenance zones. Most stands offer height adjustability, with ranges of 12”, 24”, or more. Typically constructed out of lightweight, corrosion-resistant aluminum, deck and stair modules can be easily moved by one or two workers, and are designed to quickly connect together and position. Phase systems, normally used for extensive, long-term


maintenance operations, offer multiple modules that fully encompass the aircraft, providing a means of accessing the entire upper level, or multiple levels, while allowing ground- level access beneath the system. As these are designed to fit specific aircraft, they are more limited for the general maintenance provider, but invaluable to those providing extensive overhaul or refurbishment. Many decks are equipped with extending deck sections (sliders) that allow the work surface to conform to the contours of the aircraft and accommodate protrusions, while eliminating openings that could allow workers to fall. Multipurpose, or universal maintenance stands, can be


extremely versatile. The same 8’-to-12’ long deck may be capable of providing ideal access to a tail rotor, jet engine or wing flap. Often, if used in pairs with “cross-over rails” connecting fore and aft, universal stands can provide complete access and safety compliance for rotor and upper deck operations. These stands set in place in minutes and can reduce overall maintenance time significantly. This means more hours in the air and less out of service, and equates to greater profitability for the maintenance provider.


Designs based on maintainer feedback Spika Welding and Manufacturing of Lewistown, MT is one company that is gaining recognition for its innovative solutions in the field of aviation maintenance equipment. “We have been working with aviation maintainers and technicians since 2006 to develop solutions based on the needs of the users,” said Tom Spika, president of the company. “Using their feedback, we have introduced features that really promote operational efficiency in the hangar. For example, our pneumatic slider-locking system allows maintainers to position sliders and lock them into place simultaneously with the flip of a switch, which is a big time-saver over the old designs. We’ve developed a method of snapping the modules together that eliminates having to line up pins and holes, which trims time and simplifies


Aviation Maintenance | avmain-mag.com | October / November 2011 57


assembly as well.” Spika believes by working closely with those who use the equipment daily, the company is able to respond with better, more effective designs and features, such as the type of material used for the work surface. “Mechanics were telling us that the up-punched sheet metal used for many older stands ripped their pants when they knelt or sat on it, not to mention the fact it was like a cheese grater to run your hand over. We found that we could provide an extruded aluminum surface that was far easier on clothing and skin, while still maintaining adequate traction for safety. Not only that, it doesn’t flex and spring like the single layer sheet metal.” Spika notes that they are focused on designing their


platforms to make the maintainer’s job easier, while assuring compliance with current OSHA requirements. Monte Obert, one of the design engineers at Spika, notes that there are many factors that must be considered when engineering a work stand. “We have to design to meet numerous OSHA regulations that define the requirements for scaffolding, work stands, working surfaces, and stairs, to name a few.” According to Obert, those include:


ƒ Engineering the work stand to support 4x the rated working load, with a minimum working load rating of 25 lbs per square foot of deck (OSHA 1921.a)


ƒ Maintaining a minimum ratio of 4:1 for height of deck to width of base(OSHA 1921.a.3)


ƒ Providing 4” toe boards to prevent tools and parts being accidently knocked off (OSHA 1910-29.a.3)


ƒ Maintaining all stair angles between 40° and 60° (OSHA 1926.451)


ƒ Utilizing casters rated at least 4x the working load (OSHA 1910-29.a.4).


Spika agrees that it is imperative that the manufacturer of the


work platforms be knowledgeable on the design requirements. “We see a number of platforms in use in the aviation industry that would never pass an OSHA inspection,” Spika says. “Not only that, they can give a false sense of security to the workers. No one can afford the cost of a preventable injury. Our goal is to help facilities prevent that in a way they can see is easily cost-justifiable to management.” AM


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