Five Reasons Why an Aircraft Hangar Is Worth the Investment!
Many pilot-owners often question the necessity of an aircraft hangar. To save on expenses, the decision to park the aircraft on the ramp is sometimes made hastily. However, informed pilot-owners consider the environment to which their aircraft is exposed. They weigh the advantages of an aircraft hangar before choosing ramp parking. We strongly advocate for storing your aircraft in an insulated, temperature-controlled hangar, and here are the top five reasons why:
Reason #1: Optimal Aircraft Shelter
An aircraft hangar serves as a protective barrier for your aircraft. It shields it from not just weather extremities but also significant (diurnal) temperature changes.
Shielding your aircraft from adverse weather conditions like thunderstorms, hail, snow, strong winds, and harmful UV radiation is crucial. Such elements pose risks to your aircraft’s airframe, windows, and paintwork. Beyond the potential damage, operational inconveniences arise when you find your aircraft blanketed in dust, snow, or ice, requiring additional time and effort to prepare for a flight. An insulated, temperature-controlled aircraft hangar provides an effective solution.
A crucial yet frequently overlooked concern is condensation due to (diurnal) temperature fluctuations. Condensation both outside and inside the aircraft, as well as its systems, leads to corrosion (affecting the engine, airframe, and connectors) and deterioration (impacting rubber, plastic, etc.). Most of these issues can be largely prevented when the aircraft is stored in an insulated, temperature-controlled aircraft hangar. Corrosion, in particular, is an aircraft (and engine’s) main adversary and should be combated at all costs.
Reason #2: Pre-Heating
Pre-heating your aircraft engine is a vital measure ensuring your engine maintains its optimal condition and achieves the manufacturer’s specified time-between-overhaul (TBO). The most efficient method for pre-heating your aircraft engine is by housing it in an insulated, temperature-controlled aircraft hangar. In doing so, not only do you warm the various components of your aircraft engine, like the crankcase, crankshaft, cylinders, pistons, and oil, but you also prevent fogging on the windscreen, keep gyro instruments in check, and even warm the pilot’s seat.
Reason #3: Pilot-Owner Maintenance
An insulated, temperature-controlled aircraft hangar provides the perfect environment for pilot-owner maintenance. You can customise your hangar based on your specific needs and preferences. It offers space to store essential tools, parts, and consumables, allowing you to undertake maintenance tasks at your own pace. With the protection of the hangar, you can leave parts of your aircraft exposed without fearing damage or theft.
Reason #4: Avoiding Hangar Rash
By parking in a single-space hangar, you ensure that your aircraft doesn’t suffer from ‘hangar rash’, which is damage caused by other aircraft being moved in and out of tight spots. Additionally, in such settings, there’s no need to maneuver several different aircraft just to get yours ready for flight. Many aircraft end up with hangar rash, and avoiding this is a straightforward decision. Such damages are not only irritating but also diminish the aircraft’s resale value.
Reason #5: Protection from Wildlife and Vandals
A securely enclosed and lockable hangar safeguards your aircraft from birds, mice, rodents, and human threats like vandals. These unwelcome guests can leave feces and dirt on both the exterior and sometimes the interior of your aircraft. Bird droppings are acidic and can cause considerable damage to your paint job. Other remnants from these creatures are also undesirable. Moreover, animals might nest in various openings of your aircraft, causing significant issues if not identified and addressed promptly.
Bonus Point: Space for Oneself, Family, and Friends
While not in our top five for its subjective nature, one of our personal favourite reasons for having a hangar is that it offers space for yourself, family, and friends. We particularly appreciate this for several reasons:
- It’s a place to invite family, and friends to hang out, but it also serves as a sanctuary where you can enjoy some solitude.
- It provides the best environment for working on your aircraft, be it for pilot-owner maintenance or for homebuilt projects.
- Your passengers have a comfortable space to relax while you’re pre-flighting the aircraft.
- You can conduct pre-flight checks in a serene environment, shielded from external disturbances.
Actions to Take When Away from Home Base or Without an Aircraft Hangar
When you’re away from your home base and don’t have access to an aircraft hangar, consider the following protective measures:
Designed primarily to ward off wildlife, cowl plugs are easy to install by simply inserting them into the cowling openings. Typically, they are brightly coloured (often red) to be easily noticeable. Some even come with flags attached to make them visible from the cockpit. It’s crucial to note that cowl plugs effectively block airflow, which is essential for engine cooling. Consequently, forgetting to remove them before a flight could be catastrophic.
Internal Reflective Window Covers
These covers are straightforward to install and store. They reduce the greenhouse effect, ensuring the aircraft’s interior doesn’t become overly hot when parked under the sun. By doing so, they decrease the diurnal temperature fluctuation, which can lead to condensation, and eventually, corrosion and deterioration.
External Window Covers - Not Ideal
While external window covers can also mitigate the greenhouse effect, they come with inherent drawbacks. Rain and condensation can trap water between the cover and the aircraft. If not secured tightly, these covers may damage windows and paint jobs due to abrasive action, particularly in windy conditions.
Insulated Aircraft Cover
When used correctly, insulated aircraft covers can be invaluable for pre-heating. The insulation retains heat within the engine cowling, especially when combined with a multipoint electric heater system like those from Tanis Aircraft Products or Reiff Preheat System. Moreover, by applying these covers soon after shutdown – thus preserving the engine’s warmth for a few hours – you might even forgo the need for pre-heating.
Custom-Made Aircraft Covers
When correctly and snugly fitted, custom-made covers for the fuselage, wings, and empennage can serve as a protective measure against adverse weather. However, while they offer some protection, they cannot replace the comprehensive benefits of an insulated, temperature-controlled aircraft hangar, as previously outlined.
Pitot Tube/Pitot-Static System Cover
Covers for the pitot tube/pitot-static system are indispensable. They prevent insects and bugs from entering your pitot-static system, which is vital for your flight instruments or air data computer. These covers are always recommended, especially in areas known for issues with pests. It’s also worth considering covers for fuel vents.
To prevent flight control surfaces from being tossed about in windy conditions, consider using gust locks. There’s a variety of options and accessories available. In a pinch, you can even utilise your aircraft’s seat belt, wrapping it around your yoke or stick. This can help prevent the ailerons and elevators from moving too freely.
Aircraft Tie Down
Using tie downs is standard practice for aircraft operated away from the home base. It’s crucial to always check the weather forecast and secure your aircraft, especially if windy conditions or thunderstorms are anticipated. Countless aircraft have been severely damaged due to inadequate tie-downs.
Owning and operating an aircraft brings with it a slew of responsibilities, and at the forefront of these is ensuring the aircraft’s longevity, functionality, and safety. An insulated, temperature-controlled aircraft hangar is undeniably the gold standard for aircraft storage, providing protection from environmental factors and offering an optimal space for maintenance. The ultimate goal is to keep your aircraft in top condition, ensuring every flight is as safe and enjoyable as the last. Therefore, we highly recommend parking your aircraft in an insulated, temperature-controlled aircraft hangar.
Sheltering your aircraft from harmful weather conditions and daily temperature fluctuations is paramount. These elements not only wear down the exterior but can cause internal condensation leading to corrosion, affecting critical parts like the engine.
Pre-heating is essential for the engine’s optimal functioning, especially in colder climates. While a hangar simplifies this process, there are alternate methods for those without regular access to one.
Maintenance tasks, from simple check-ups to intricate repairs, benefit from the controlled environment a hangar offers. It provides space, safety, and organisation, ensuring both the pilot-owner and the aircraft are well-prepared for flights.
Hangar Rashes & Wildlife and Vandals & Personal Space
Other concerns like hangar rashes, threats from wildlife and vandals, and the sheer convenience of having a personal space for oneself and companions underline the utility of a hangar. But for those times when a hangar isn’t available, tools like cowl plugs, aircraft covers, pitot system covers, gust locks, and proper tie-down techniques come to the rescue.
About Quest Aeronautics
Quest Aeronautics is a state-certified engineering office for aviation, dedicated to shaping the future of general aviation by providing innovative and cost-effective solutions to enhance aircraft performance and operations. With a focus on CS/FAR-23 and experimental/amateur-built (E/A-B) aircraft, Quest Aeronautics provides a range of services including flight testing, aircraft operations and maintenance consulting, high-quality aviation products, and tailored support for E/A-B projects. Collaborating with industry-leading partners, Quest Aeronautics is committed to delivering unparalleled support and expertise to individuals and organisations in the general aviation market.
Sebastian, the founder of , is a driven and enthusiastic individual with a passion for aviation. Before delving into aviation, he gained valuable experience as a chemical process engineer and laboratory technician. Sebastian holds a Master of Science in Engineering and a commercial pilot licence, with several fixed-wing aircraft ratings under his belt. He has also completed an introduction course for fixed-wing performance and flying qualities flight testing at the in Mojave, CA and is compliance verification engineer for flight.