During a long weekend trip back earlier this year, I had the chance to go visit the new ITS (Icelandair Technical Services) hangar at Keflavik Airport (KEF) in Iceland. As an AvGeek, any day at the airport is a great day, but it’s even better when I get the opportunity for a visit behind the scenes.
ITS is an operational division of Icelandair. With Icelandair’s current growth and more aircraft being added to their existing fleet of Boeing 757s, 767s, and – most recently – the Boeing 737 MAX, there was a need for ITS to expand and build a second maintenance hangar.
I had visited here once before, back in the fall of 2016, and I watched the construction workers all bundled up to withstand the harsh Icelandic weather doing work on the foundation for the new hangar.
For my visit this year, I arrived at Keflavik airport nice and early around lunch time, checked in my bag for my flight later that afternoon, then proceeded to walk from the terminal over to the ITS hangar. My contact had offered me to pick me up by car, but I declined and said I would walk rain or shine.
We started our tour by walking through the old hangar, which has two bays. One is used for “C checks” (these are scheduled heavy maintenance visits that occur roughly every two years or a manufacturer-defined number of flight cycles, and can take up to two weeks and 6,000 man-hours to complete) and the other is for line maintenance. This spares the crews from having to perform work outside, as – spoiler alert! – the weather in Iceland can be pretty rough at times. The new hangar also features two bays, where C checks are also being performed.
BONUS: Icelandair to the MAX
The first thing I noticed walking into the new hangar was that it is much brighter than the older hangar due to numerous windows providing daylighting.
Another nice new feature in the new hangar is a nose bay with an elevated floor. That sure comes in very handy when the passenger seats need to come out of the aircraft. Instead of having to accomplish the removal with a ramp or stairs, now the employees can just walk in and out of the aircraft and stack the seats on the large elevated floor. During my visit, TF-FIS Grimsvötn, a Boeing 757-256, was occupying the nose bay undergoing maintenance work. We stepped inside briefly for a few pictures.
During my visit, not all departments had yet moved into the new building. The two hangars host a range of ITS maintenance departments, including the engine shop, composite shop, sheet metal, interior, the component shop for wheels and brakes, and spare parts inventory. Some will move to the new hangar, while others will stay in the original space but get more room.
Here are a few more facts about the ITS hangars:
- The construction of the new hangar began in June 2016, and the structure was standing by March 2017.
- The first aircraft into the hangar for a check was on November 13, 2017.
- The new hangar is 311 ft./95 m. wide without a roof support in the middle.
- The size of it is 70,611 sq. ft., or 6,560 sq. meters, which compares to the original hangar, which is 7,988 sq. meters, or 85,982 sq. ft., but has a supporting wall between bays.
- Before the hangar was put into operation, a safety drill was needed in order to test the fire extinguishing foam system. Have a look: