It has been a while since Skien Airport was used for commercial flights, but right now something even more exciting is happening there. In a fabric cover building from O.B.Wiik, something is being developed that can change the aviation industry all over the world.

Simple idea – complicated reality

It all started 12 years ago, when the entrepreneur’s brother was stuck at Schiphol due to snow and lack of de-icing. He himself worked in car washing and came up with the idea: Could not de-icing draw inspiration from an automatic car wash?

That idea was to start with what is now the world’s first automated system for washing and de-icing aircraft.
CFO of MSG Aviation, Jan Hansen, thinks this can be big. Really big.

– The industry is conservative, but Norwegian-made quality sounds good. With around 2,500 airports in need of this, the potential is enormous, he says.

How does it work?

Today, de-icing and washing planes is a manual job, which requires work effort, time, and the possibility of human mistakes. With the MSG Aviation solution, this will be automated.

In the same way as an automatic car wash, a plane will drive into a hall and moving “arms” will go around the fuselage. The solution can be used for such more. As of today, it can be used for washing planes, engines and remove sand. In other words, it is not only at airports in cold regions that they need the solutions, but also places near the desert and where planes are stored and washed.

A camera solution is also being developed, which can be placed on the “arms”. These can be used for inspections of the aircraft to look for damage, such as “bird strikes” or lightning strikes.

Creates a more efficient and environmentally friendly industry

There are several major benefits to automating this process.

Removing the manual job will avoid human mistakes and take less time. All processes will be standardized, in other words, use the same amount of time and the same amount of liquid, every single time. This makes it easier to calculate quantify and prevents waste.

By moving de-icing and washing into a hall, chemicals are also prevented from flowing into nature. Through drains in the ground, MSG collects the chemicals that can be used again.

– Clean planes also use less jet fuel. This means that we can save large costs for the industry, and small changes in an industry can make a big financial difference. The system is safer, more efficient and more environmentally friendly than current methods, CFO Jan Hansen states.

Everything happens in a specially made fabric cover building

A fabric cover building was used in this project. Not only is it relatively inexpensive solution, which is easy to move on, but is also comes with other benefits.

– Fabric cover buildings are not considered as permanent and therefore falls within the regulations for leasing. This is a great advantage for us, as we can lease out the building to airlines and other companies, says Hansen.

The building was developed together with MSG Aviation to give them the functionality they need and withstand the weight of the load of MSG’s system.

– The walls in the building is reinforced to withstand the weight of the 3 traverses that hold the system where the chemicals come out of. As these “arms” will move around the fuselage, this was also something our engineers had to take into consideration when they designed the solution, Hansen continues.

Flexible financing was the rescue

Hansen is clear on why O.B.Wiik became the right supplier.
– We chose O.B.Wiik for two reasons. Number one, they have extensive international experience. And second, they could offer us flexible financing solutions that no one else could.

For an innovative start-up project, the financing was absolutely crucial. Through O.B.Wiik, MSG was given the opportunity to repay the building over 5 years.

Unfortunately, there was also the pandemic, which made it extra important to have a supplier who had confidence in the project and the opportunity to be flexible.

– We ended up in a situation where we had to say that right now, we do not have money, but we will get it in “X” number of months because then “Y” happens. O.B.Wiik gave us that confidence and we delivered when we said we would. That flexibility was important, Hansen says

As part of the EU’s program “Horizon 2020”, it is important that the project follows the set deadlines for funding to be approved.

– When there were some unforeseen challenges, O.B.Wiik was good at following up and helped write a letter that explained the situation so that we did not end up in problems, Hansen says.

Next test: Gardermoen

The test building in Skien has now done its part and phase two is being implemented – a 3-year pilot project at Oslo Airport Gardermoen. Here, MSG will set up a machine that will be used by aircraft in scheduled traffic, and O.B.Wiik will deliver the hall.

It will be a solid test of how the system works. With a large demand and the capacity of 15 aircraft per hour, the solution will be put to the test.

– Gardermoen is an airport with difficult conditions, therefore it is a very good test. If it works there, it works everywhere, Hansen concludes.

In O.B.Wiik, we follow the development with excitement and look forward to being part of the team when MSG goes out into the world! ✈️🌍