The last few months have seen some exciting developments at RAF Lakenheath, where VolkerFitzpatrick has successfully completed the first phase of refurbishment to eight Protective Aircraft Shelters (PAS).
The PAS Refurbishment Project is a multi-year design and build, multi-phase project, involving a multitude of disciplines. Works are being undertaken on 50 shelters, each measuring approx. 800m2 and 9m in height.
The first phase began in September 2020, and required a variety of specialist supply chain partners, including mechanical and electrical, specialist coatings and flooring, industry leading door manufacturers and concrete repair experts.
The mechanical works comprised the installation of a ducted extract system, using ATEX-certified fans, designed to achieve a volumetric flow rate, in accordance with the requirements of the ‘Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmosphere Regulations’.
The electrical works included installing new supplies for each building, from a private distribution substation, new switchgear and distribution boards, new power supplies to specialist communications and high security equipment, and new internal, external and emergency lighting systems. As fuelling and de-fuelling activities are carried out in the PAS, electrical installations within the buildings were designed and installed to meet ‘Potentially Explosive Atmospheres’ legislation. This required all equipment to be certified under the ATEX Directive, and a specialist trained workforce to install.
The team cleaned and treated the internal surfaces of each PAS, applied anti-corrosion and anti-condensation paint, and re-laid specialist floor coatings and joint sealants, enabling aircraft to use them for years to come.
In addition, the project included working on each of the 80 tonne main doors, with particular focus on the improved door motor drive units. New ATEX-certified motors and control systems were fitted throughout, using modern inverter drive units.
The team also overhauled the concrete jet exhaust efflux chambers and external areas, and re-instated new material, to re-create the original finishes.
Challenges and achievements
Working in a live military airbase environment presented a number of logistical challenges and reduced the opportunity to recover any lost programme time. However, combined management from VolkerFitzpatrick, DIO, USAF and Mott MacDonald, as well as close collaboration with subcontractors, allowed the team to complete the works ahead of schedule.
Adding social value
As part of the project’s support of the local community, one of the team’s degree apprentices recently attended a secondary school Higher Education and Careers fair. During the event, he spoke to students about the variety of career options within construction, and different avenues into the industry.
Rob Dowe, project manager for VolkerFitzpatrick, said: “The first phase of this project has achieved outstanding workmanship, adherence to budget and has surpassed all expectations. A review of the lessons learnt to date will allow us to reiterate and improve our delivery further, as we move into phase two.”
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