Aviation: Southwest Airlines - Houston Hobby International Airport (HOU)

Southwest Airlines is the largest domestic air carrier in the United States and the world’s largest low-cost air carrier with over 4,000 departures a day during peak travel season.Their new state-of-the-art hangar at William P. Hobby International Airport (HOU) featuring Megadoors is also their largest hangar.

ASSA ABLOY Entrance Systems (AAES) is proud to have supplied (2) 276’ x 45’/59’ five part Megadoor system for Southwest Airlines’ new two bay hangar at Houston’s William P. Hobby International Airport (HOU). 

The $125 million state-of-the-art facility is significantly larger than the original two position hangar constructed in 1988. At 140,000 square feet, the new hangar anticipates Southwest’s future growth plans and can accommodate six 737 aircraft simultaneously. 

As Southwest’s impressive growth continues, their need for hangars to maintain an expanding fleet, currently at 750  737 aircraft, continues to be a priority. At the corporate level, an internal study was performed to understand what locations would be performing maintenance and what investment will be required to meet current and future  Technical Operations demands. In an effort to reduce complexity, increase return on investment (ROI) and increase the speed at which new projects enter service, the team decided to standardize the new hangar facilities across the network.  

Solution

By utilizing vertical lifting Megadoors on their new hangars, Southwest minimizes their building footprints by  eliminating the track system and door pockets required by horizontal rolling doors. This not only reduces construction costs, but with suitable parcels of land at busy airports  difficult to obtain, a compact footprint assists in fitting  these hangars on smaller parcels of land.

The Houston hangar is the blueprint for future hangars, however other locations will be a single bay hangar instead of dual bay. Each bay is configured to accommodate three 737 aircraft or a single 787. By adding the 59’ high center Megadoor section, Southwest was able to cost effectively future- proof the facility should future business plans evolve to serve long-haul destinations. 

ASSA ABLOY worked with the Southwest team to develop a custom Megadoor specification for Southwest’s hangars including: 

Retractable mullion pins with patented spring loaded pit cover

This option utilizes a linear actuator inside the mullion to extend and retract a pin at the base of each mullion that transfers horizontal wind loads into the concrete floor. This allows for an automatic spring-loaded pit cover, eliminating the need for manual, hinged floor pit covers.  

Upgraded controls package

Includes touchscreen user interface, event log, multi- level password protection and a second operator station.

Translucent white fabric with Southwest blue accent

Megadoor translucent white fabric allows five percent of the natural light to infiltrate the hangar. This soft, diffused light creates an excellent work light for the technicians increasing productivity and safety. 

“Light is very important in our industry and the more light we can have come into the hangar, the better. The translucent effect of the doors is extremely important to our operations,” says David Mitchell, Senior Manager of Maintenance for Technical Operations at the Houston Hobby facility.

Pedestrian doors

Integrated into the center door leaf, minimize travel distances from the hangar to the ramp.