Delft University of Technology
Faculty Mechanical, Maritime and Materials Engineering
Transport Technology / Logistic Engineering

L.T. van Halderen M.A.R.S.: Mobile Aircraft Recovery System. Een conceptanalyse voor een bergingsvoertuig voor vliegtuigen.
Masters thesis, Report 2003.TL.6765, Transport Technology, Logistic Engineering.

At almost every airport, it's a regular occurrence that aircraft run off runways. Frequently, the airplane blocks the runway, which makes air trafflc on that specific runway impossible. At busy airports, this quickly leads to congestion, delay and huge economical damage. Therefore, the need for speedy recovery is great. As a result of the high pressure of time, modern recovery techniques often cause damage to the hull. Against this background, a concept design of recovery vehicle for aircraft has been created.
The concept, with the name M.A.R.S. (Mobile Aircraft Recovery System), can be used for both small and large commercial airplanes. The vehicle lifts the airplane, after which it transports the hull to the hangar. It can be driven on every type of surface. Three recovery vehicles are necessary for the recovery of a large airplane, for a smaller aircraft, one vehicle is sufficient.

The goal of the research project is to investigate, whether a need for the recovery vehicle M.A.R.S. in the aircraft recovery market exists, and whether the concept, in its present form, optimally connects to those market needs.

Firstly, to gain an insight in the market, a research in present literature has been performed. From this research, it appears that accidents, for which the recovery vehicle can be used, occur with an average of twenty a year. Most of these accidents, relatively to the number of flights performed, take place in Africa and Central and South America.
For the recovery air cushions, cranes, trailers and an occasional professional instrument are used. Local recovery companies provide the equipment. It has been investigated whether links between aircraft recovery and the recovery of other transport modalities exist. It is has become evident that aircraft recovery has some resemblance with the recovery of trams and trucks; ship recovery however, differs a lot. Finally, it appears that money flows within aircraft recovery are mostly determined and controlled by insurance companies.

The second part of the investigation comprises a qualitative research project. Several parties, involved in aircraft recovery, have been interviewed. Various subjects were discussed, which have led to the following results.
Especially for airports, airlines and insurance companies, the recovery vehicle can have an added value. Above all things, recovery speed and damage reduction contribute to this added value, because of the decrease in economical damage. However, the added value is too low in comparison to the expected costs of the present concept. For this reason, no company will be prepared to purchase the vehicle.
Also, the respondents confirm the use of the recovery equipment mentioned above, as well as the execution of the recovery by local companies. According to most respondents, improvements in the existing recovery process are not necessary. Moreover, it is doubted whether the vehicle will work in practice.
The costs and money flows are different for each incident. They depend on which party can be held responsible for the crash. A judge decides upon this responsibility. For the financial part of the interview, the choice of the respondents has not been optimal, as many of them had little knowledge of this subject.

Summarized, it can be said that the interviews indicate that the recovery vehicle, in its present form, does not connect to the market needs.
Through the interviews, it has also become apparent that several parties could be involved in the development of the vehicle, functioning as a source of information. Of these parties, aircraft manufacturer Boeing will be of most importance. An insurance company, or possibly a recovery company, could act as a financier. The product market of the vehicle could be expanded to the heavy-transport sector and the petrochemical industry. Finally, it has been conduded that the geographical market depends on the purchaser of the vehicle.

The final part of the project comprises a multi criteria analysis. Eight important characteristics of the recovery vehicle have been determined. Each of these characteristics has been scaled according to its importance. Using a morphological chart, five different concepts, among which the current concept, have been established. Every concept has obtained a score for the eight characteristics. This score, multiplied by the scale factor, provides an end score. The concept with the highest end score is the concept that connects to the market needs the best. This analysis has proven once more that the current concept does not optimally connect. The solution can be found in a simpler and cheaper concept. This concept is designed as a trailer, for which cranes do the recovery.

Both the quality of the research in literature and the quality of the interviews are large enough to produce reliable results. However, the multi criteria analysis is a rather subjective method to make a concept choice. Performance of the analysis by another researcher, could lead to different results. Nevertheless, the analysis does create a tool that makes discussion about the concept choice possible.

Reports on Logistic Engineering (in Dutch)
Modified: 2003.06.01; , TU Delft / 3mE / TT / LT.