NJ Airport Hangar

Project Specs

  • Property Type: Industrial
  • Location: Morristown, NJ
  • Our Role: Material Erected Subcontractor
  • Butler Products: Widespan structural system

The Logistics of Safety

Everyone can understand why an airport hangar needs an extremely wide clear span. After all, it’s not easy to park airplanes between the typical 60-80-foot support posts. But it can be a little harder to understand the level of expertise required to build something like this safely. In this case, it required a near-tragic event to bring it into focus.

Our client needed a hangar with a 265-foot clear span. We were confident we could get the job done, especially after completing a 214-foot clear span for the New York Giants’ practice facility a few years ago. Unfortunately our bid was not initially selected, but due to certain circumstances, we eventually got a call to complete the work that had been started.

It’s never easy to pick up where another construction company left off, but we were up for the challenge. It took an incredible amount of planning with everything from auditing the parts to the site itself. The construction site provided its own set of logistical challenges, with only 15 feet of space on three sides of the building, and taxiing planes on the fourth side. Despite the obstacles, we were confident in our ability to complete the project and to give them the hangar they wanted.

When we arrived on site, we began by counting all of the parts, down to the nuts and bolts, to evaluate what we had and what we needed. Many of the anchor bolts were bent or sheared off, and needed to be replaced. It may seem like a tedious first step, but we wanted to minimize additional costs as much as we could. We worked with the supplies the previous company had, and ordered only what was needed.

Once we had all of the parts accounted for, we took the time to research the weight of each individual part. Yes, even the tiniest nuts and bolts. Again, it’s a tedious task, but it’s a necessary part of the process. When you’re working with a clear span of 265 feet, every ounce counts. The only thing we didn’t weigh was the paint.

While the parts were the same, our experience and expertise led us to a building approach that was very different from the previous company. We built the hangar in modules on the ground; the modules were then lifted into the air, using a crane, and assembled in the air. You can watch our assembly of the Morristown Airport Hangar here on our website.

Thanks to our research into the weight of each part, we can confidently say each individual module weighed 90,000 pounds! Knowing the exact weight of each module is critical to the engineering and construction of a clear span of this size. If the weight is unknown, there is no way to know if the modules will stand once they are assembled in the air. Failure to research and calculate the weight could have a catastrophic result.

When you’re tackling a clear span of this magnitude, it’s essential to be educated in the erection of metal buildings. Hance Construction has over 30 years of experience and is a longtime partner of the Metal Building Contractors & Erectors Association (MBCEA) and its education affiliate, the Metal Buildings Institute. Through this affiliation, Hance Construction has helped to shape the metal building industry.

Art Hance credits Butler Manufacturing and the Metal Building Contractors & Erectors Association (MBCEA) Metal Buildings Institute and Registered Apprenticeship Program for helping him achieve and maintain a high level of knowledge on metal building construction. As a result, safety is a priority. We have developed self-imposed safety training standards and ensure we can meet those standards by coordinating safety training for employees and the employees of our sub-contractor partners. Our high level of knowledge is what enables us to take on impressive challenges, like this one, with safety and success.