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FARNBOROUGH: ATC Lasham team puts display aircraft in their place

When an aircraft such as Airbus's giant A380 lands at Farnborough, ATC Lasham's aircraft engineering support team is on hand to put it in its place.

The UK maintenance, repair and overhaul specialist has been contracted to ensure that aircraft and their crews are correctly positioned and looked after during their time at the show.

With the A380, this involved the use of a hired Schopf 55t tug to its position next to the outside exhibit of Airbus owner EADS. The tug bears the name of the UK Royal Air Force, to which it is to be delivered after the show.

Airbus's superjumbo - which bears Malaysia Airlines' livery and will become the second A380 to be delivered to the carrier - is parked atop metal plates to prevent damage to the tarmac.

ATC Lasham's aircraft engineering support team comprises 40 members, including a handful of five-person skilled crews each made up of a tug driver, three engineers and one ATC Lasham apprentice. The team also includes four bus drivers who take transport flight crews around the site.

To handle the aircraft, the team has access to hired towbars, ground power units, steps and air-conditioning units, among other equipment.

And it is certainly kept busy. A total of 32 aircraft arrivals were booked for Sunday, 8 July 2012. While they and the other displaying aircraft are on site, the services available to them include any required repairs, supply of liquid oxygen and nitrogen, and even draining of onboard toilets, a grim task executed using what is nicknamed the "honey cart".

The ATC Lasham team's work follows more than three months of consultation with the show organisers and exhibitors. But there are always unexpected, ad hoc requirements to satisfy once show time arrives - an example this year is the repositioning of a US Air Force Boeing C-17 transport on static display to be a little further away from the Lockheed Martin C-130. And with aircraft not always arriving in the expected order, logistics and parking arrangements are generally subject to change on a rolling basis.

Making it all a smooth process is the task of show veterans such as support chief Roy Young, support leader James Ford and his deputy Alan Maskell, and flight-line supervisors Paul Murray and Keith Sands - who keep in constant contact with the control tower.

To judge by the ease with which the mighty A380 was guided to its metal podium, nothing fazes this crack team.

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