Airbase Wunstorf (DE)

High-tech doors and façades for the Airbus A400M hangars

Butzbach Aviation supplied five hangar door systems measuring up to 160 m for the new Airbus A400M transport aircraft for the German military.

Situated in Wunstorf in Lower Saxony, the airbase has a long history to which a very extensive new chapter is now being added: the Bundeswehr is expanding the airport to make it the central location for its new transport aircraft, the Airbus A400M. For the new hangars on the site, Butzbach GmbH Industrietore supplied a total of five hangar door systems, each tailored to the particular use of each hangar in terms of equipment, method of opening and security criteria. “Wunstorf is a flagship project that perfectly demonstrates our capability both in the product portfolio and in project management for such extensive requirement criteria,” explained Thomas Merk, Head of Sales Aviation at Butzbach. Fitted with fibreglass panels to allow light through, each of the doors are impressive enough just in their dimensions, functions and special features:

In the two overhaul hangars, two double-leaf sliding doors 105 x 17.5 m in size give individual access to the 2 docks in each hall. Truck doors and pedestrian doors are integrated into the hangar door. The training facility has a 51 x 10.5 m round-the-corner door with a 25 x 7 m tail door customized for the T-tail of the A400M. The leaves of the round-the-corner door are led along the side wall when opened, allowing the whole front of the hall to be accessible. The simulator building has a smaller sliding door measuring 10 x 10.5 m and two stacking doors of 6.4 x 8 m. The door for the washing and maintenance hall is the largest one on the entire complex with its 160 x 17.5 m in size, with 3 separately moveable leaves each weighing approx. 44 t. The external building skin and internal separations between the bays have been equipped with a total of 3,800 m2 fibreglass curtain walls made by Butzbach.

Maximum operational availability:
Butzbach’s Aviation Sales Manager Thomas Merk resumes the specific requirements and how they could be met by their special technology: “All doors are configured for simple and reliable year-round operation with heatable rails and electric drive. Manual operation is possible at any time should the power fail, allowing almost 100% operational reliability to be guaranteed. The Butzbach-specific door tracks also compensate for depressions in the structural frame, so that even high snow loads on the hangar will not have any impact on operation of the door.” Apart from operational availability a number of additional performances were specified: for security reasons, sophisticated security features and a decentralised door monitoring system were installed. To allow the best possible use of daylight, all doors are fitted with transparent fibreglass panels manufactured by Butzbach itself. These were used for extensive façade areas as well – amounting to 3,800 m2 for the washing and maintenance hall alone. With U-values of up to 1.1 W/m2K, they also make a significant contribution to energy saving thanks to optimised thermal insulation alongside a sharp reduction in the need for artificial light because the bright working areas eliminate the casting of shadows.

Consistent project management for manufacturing, assembly and logistics:
A project manager from Butzbach controls and coordinates the door-related details of the construction project, serving as a point of contact for all participants and overseeing execution from planning through to acceptance. He is also a regular presence on the building site. In the case of the Wunstorf airbase, Axel Knussmann is the relevant project manager. At the start of the project his duties were focused in particular on checking the preceding works on site to satisfy himself that they had been executed properly. Before manufacturing starts, a detailed consultation is held between the participating trades so that all relevant technical details can be clarified. It takes about 16 weeks to produce a hangar door with the dimensions of those in Wunstorf. Where possible, every door is pre-assembled in the plant, so that only larger components have to be fitted together on site. By this stage the construction site at the place of installation is already up and running. “We plan this down to the last detail so that we can work independently,” explained Axel Knussmann. “The most important areas are those used for storage, taxiing and parking, which means we have to make sure we are absolutely bang on schedule so that there are no delays on site.”

For the Butzbach team around Thomas Merk and Axel Knussmann a project is only finished then the customer can operate the hangar in a reliable and trouble-free way. The fact that they received all consequent orders for the hangar doors and the fibreglass curtain walls is for them a sign that both the product and the project management could entirely satisfy the expectations of the contractor.

About the Wunstorf airbase:
According to the Bundeswehr, the Wunstorf airbase is its largest building site at the moment. Once all the works have been completed, the project will have cost some 565 million euros. The majority of this is being spent on the construction of new buildings and infrastructure for the 40 transport aircraft of type Airbus A400M that will be stationed there in the future. The work began as long ago as 2009.

When the project began Butzbach Aviation won the Europe-wide tenders for the doors. The invitations to tender were issued by two civilian public project management authorities. The two agencies look after hundreds of properties owned by federal and regional governments. They report to the Lower Saxony regional financial authority, Oberfinanzdirektion Niedersachsen, which ultimately monitors the progress and the appropriate use of the money invested.

The prevailing standard for the doors installed in Wunstorf is the European product standard DIN EN 13241-1. It replaced the national standards a few years ago and regulates safety and performance requirements for all power and manually operated gates and barriers in the private, commercial and public sectors that are intended to allow the passage of persons or goods and vehicles accompanied or controlled by them. The doors for the Wunstorf airbase were built in accordance with the requirements of this standard and with other individual specifications.


Products used

Curtain Wall:

Over 6,000 m2 fibreglass curtain wall VARIOPLANplus. Infill fibreglass, colour Brilliant and Emerald-Green, used as exterior façades as well as interior separations


2 sliding doors with two door leaves, 105 x 17,5 m, integrated doors and truck doors, 40 mm twin-walled fibreglass panels, colour: Emerald-Green
1 round-the-corner door with four door leaves, 51 x 10,5 m, including tail door (stacking door SPACELITE HT200, 25 x 7m), 40 mm twin-walled fibreglass panels, colour: Brilliant
1 single leaf sliding door, 10 x 10,6 m, 40 mm twin-walled fibreglass panels, colour: Brilliant
1 sliding door with three door leaves, 160 x 17,5 m, 60 mm twin-walled fibreglass panels, colour: Brilliant
2 stacking doors SPACELITE HT60H, 6,4 x 8 m, colour: Brilliant




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