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Plane Recovery at Local Airport!

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Topic Originally Created August 2016:



Received a call from MA State Police on the evening of February 27th stating that they had a serious accident involving a multi-engine airplane that had experienced complications while landing at the Plymouth Airport.  Apparently, something malfunctioned on the aircraft causing it to veer off the runway and roll over completely upside down onto the grassy infield area at the airport.  We were requested to respond immediately to the airport in order to recover and upright the airplane and transport it to the designated hangar where it was to be stored.

We responded with our long reach heavy duty sliding rotator crane, HAZMAT Response Truck, and Landoll trailer in order to complete the recovery in the safest, fastest manner so that the airport could be re-opened to its full capacity.  Once our crews arrived on scene, we were escorted to the area where the overturned plane was located so that we could fully assess the situation and begin devising a recovery plan.

Our crane was then backed up and positioned alongside the overturned aircraft and the high-intensity LED light tower was deployed so that the entire scene could be illuminated in order to create a safe working environment for our crew as well as all of the other on scene personnel, including first responders.  The two light towers on the rear of our HAZMAT Truck were also deployed so that the entire perimeter around the overturned plane was now completely lit.  With the area now illuminated, the entire plane could now be viewed so that lifting points could be located.

After consulting with aviation personnel on scene, it was determined that the strongest lifting point which could be accessed given the situation at hand was on the tail of the aircraft.  At that time, our crane was then setup and properly stabilized while other crew members began installing the proper rigging to the tail which consisted of heavy duty lifting straps.  Once the necessary rigging was properly installed, our crane operator slid the boom to the rear of the crane, rotated the boom directly overhead above the overturned aircraft, and lowered one of the crane's upper winches down to the heavy duty lifting straps.

The two were then connected to one another and at that time our crane operator began slowly applying tension to the crane's upper winch.  The crane began slowly lifting the tail end of the overturned aircraft off the ground causing it to become upright.  Once the plane was completely elevated straight up and down, our crane operator slowly rotated the rear of the plane while simultaneously letting out on the upper winch line causing the plane to make a slow and steady descent back down to the ground in its upright position.

Now that the plane was in its upright position, it needed to be relocated and transported to the hangar.  In order to do so, our crews installed two wide heavy duty lifting straps which cradeled the underside of the plane's fuselage.  These two lifting straps were then connected to both of the crane's upper winches.  Once all of the necessary rigging was properly installed, our crane operator could then lift the entire aircraft straight up off the ground and keep it suspended in mid-air while our Landoll trailer was backed underneath it.  Once the trailer was correctly positioned, our crane began lowering the plane onto the trailer.

However, due to the fact that these types of planes are not normally placed onto trailers and their expensive exterior components are quite fragile, an extensive amount of wooden cribbing had to be taken from our HAZMAT Truck in order to sufficiently prop up the plane on the trailer so that it could be moved to the hangar without causing anymore damage to the plane.  Once all of the cribbing was properly placed underneath the wings, as well as the tail of the plane, our crane then slowly lowered the plane the remaining way down onto the trailer.  The plane was then secured in place and prepared to be transported to the awaiting hangar.

Prior to moving the plane to the hangar, however, on scene crews wanted the high octane fuel removed from the plane in case there happened to be a leak while the plane was being transported which would create an extensive environmental spill onto the runway and airport in general.  Our crews utilized our air-operated high volume fuel transfer pump to siphon the high octane fuel from the tanks located on the plane into our DOT Approved HAZMAT Drums.  After all of the fuel was successfully removed from the plane, catch pans were placed underneath the tanks as an added precaution and at that time, our crews could begin the slow drive to the hangar.

Our crews remained communicating via our wireless headsets the entire time, especially during this time so that the Landoll trailer driver could be informed of obstacles and turning radius due to the fact that the wingspan on the aircraft far exceeded the width of the trailer itself.  Once the trailer made it to the hangar, our crews then had to back both our crane, as well as the trailer with the plane, into the hangar so that the plane could be lifted off the trailer and placed onto the ground.  After on-scene officials informed us that the plane was in the correct location within the hangar, our crane was setup alongside the trailer and the same heavy duty lifting straps were installed onto the plane's fuselage.

Our crane operator then lifted the plane straight up off the trailer, the trailer was driven out from underneath the plane, and the plane was slowly lowered down onto the hangar floor.  All of the rigging was un-installed and placed back into the crane as well as all of the cribbing placed back within the HAZMAT Truck.  All of the miscellaneous debris from the accident itself was collected and placed into the hangar, as well.  Now that the overturned aircraft was removed from the grassy infield and stored in its proper location, the airport was re-opened to its full capacity and our crews returned to our Freetown facility.

















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