The FMP Blog

Airplane Hangar Construction: Expert Guide for Building Aircraft Storage

  • January 2, 2024

Aircraft hangars look simple from the outside, but the number of design considerations involved may surprise you. 

Our step-by-step guide to hangar construction has all the information you need to make your next hangar development project a success. 

Contents:

1. Ask Yourself These Questions Before Building an Airline Hangar

2. How to Design an Aircraft Hangar

3. Steps for Building an Airplane Hangar

Ask Yourself These Questions Before Building an Airline Hangar

Although you may be anxious to start constructing your hangar, it’s important to have a plan.

Start by asking yourself the following questions. Your answers will not only help you develop a hangar that’s built to your specific needs, but will also make the construction process as smooth as possible.

What Is Your Budget?

Budgets are never a fun topic. Having said that, the last thing you want is to run out of money before your hangar is complete.

Your budget will determine the limits of your new hangar building’s size, features, and construction materials.

Construction project costs aside, you’ll also need to consider how much you can afford to spend on leasing the ground at a public airport.

The Cost Guys provide an easy-to-fill questionnaire that can help you estimate the cost of constructing steel aircraft hangars. This includes how much the square footage of your hangar’s floor plan may contribute to the overall cost. 

The cost of building a steel airplane hangar also depends on the location of the jobsite. If you are constructing a private hangar, the cost will be higher at an airport location than it would be on your own land.

Note that hangars are more expensive when they’re built within city limits, due to taxiway necessities.

Don’t forget that you can always opt for a prefabricated hangar or an aircraft hangar building kit. This can simplify the construction process, but can also limit your choices for building designs.

What Type of Aircraft Are You Storing?

The aircraft’s dimensions, clear span, and weight should determine the load and space requirements of your airport hangar. For example, an Airbus or Boeing jet will require a large hangar. 

Private aircraft, such as a Learjet or Cessna, can be held on airfields under general aviation hangars built for smaller planes. 

How Are You Using the Hangar?

Will your hangar mostly be used as warehousing or storage? Or will it be used for aircraft maintenance?

Likewise, find out if the hangar should include office space where aircraft owners can conduct business. If so, factor these features into the hangar design. 

Are There Any Other Limitations or Requirements?

Aircraft hangar construction requires more than just a building permit. You’ll need to check with all authorities and stakeholders before your project gets a greenlight.

Authorities may ask you to meet certain expectations, or place certain limits on how you build your hangar. Keep your design flexible so that you can adapt to any unexpected changes or requests. 

Zoning or Land Use

Check your desired property lot to find out if it’s zoned for commercial aircraft, private aircraft, storage, or multiple. 

If you are constructing your hangar off airport property, check the land use permit to verify whether you’re able to build there.

You must also ensure your hangar meets local building codes.

Airport Requirements

Each airport has different rules and requirements for hangar construction. Airport Authority will always need to approve your proposal before construction begins. 

Certain FAA rules need to be followed when constructing any aircraft hangar. However, these rules do not apply to private hangars on private land. 

Airport Master Plan

An airport master plan is an FAA-approved document that outlines each section of an airport and its intended use. 

Your proposed hangar must match the airport master plan. If not, you will need to seek approval from the FAA. 

Environmental Issues

Climate has an immense impact on construction.

Depending on your hangar’s geographic location, you may need to build with certain environmental issues in mind. For example, including extra supports to accommodate snow loads in colder regions. 

Contact the FAA Airport District Office to learn more about which environmental issues you face in your region. 

Check Out: 5 Ways the Sustainability of Steel is Infinite

How to Design an Aircraft Hangar

How to Design an Aircraft Hangar

Now that you’ve addressed the planning and regulatory concerns, it’s time for the fun part — designing the hangar itself. 

Types of Aircraft Hangars

When it comes to the types of hangars you can build, there are several options. 

Each one is named according to how the aircraft must be positioned to fit inside the hangar.

Freestanding

The freestanding hangar is the simplest. It’s one large, open space designed to fit a single aircraft, helicopter, or jet. You can also scale its size depending on your specific needs.

Smaller freestanding hangars are typically used to house private aircraft. The larger ones come in handy for maintenance or repair facilities.

Consecutive Rectangular

If you need to store more than one aircraft, your best option may be a consecutive rectangular hangar.

This design uses the same basic principle as the freestanding hangar — four exterior walls and a roof. 

However, the consecutive rectangular hangar also has interior walls that create individual bays for additional aircraft. Each bay has its own door.

These types of hangars tend to be shared or rented by multiple aircraft owners. 

Back to Back

Think of the back-to-back hangar design as flipping over two of the consecutive rectangular hangars and placing them side by side. 

In turn, you get double the aircraft bays that can house twice as many airplanes. That’s why several pilots or aircraft owners tend to share these hangars.

The design uses doors that face both directions, so take that into consideration when determining placement. It will need to have access from both sides. 

Standard T Hangars

When storage space is limited, T Hangars are an innovative way to fit more aircraft in a smaller area. These are long, rectangular hangars with alternating doors on either side. 

Each bay requires the aircraft to be backed into the hangar since the design of each bay is wider in the front than the back. The back will fit the tail end of the aircraft, while the wider front will accommodate the wingspan of the aircraft. 

Standard T Hangars may also have rear access to each bay through a small roller door or standard personnel door. 

Nested T Hangars

Nested T Hangars are built with the same design as standard T hangars but doubled and staggered. 

They’re also shorter but wider than the standard T hangars, and can fit more aircraft. This design saves hangar space and reduces taxiway needs. 

Although each bay has its own hangar door, there is no rear access because the hangars are back to back. 

Custom Design

If the above design options won’t work for you, there’s always the option to go with a custom design. The only limitation is making sure your custom design complies with FAA and other regulatory requirements. 

Custom designs also allow you to add additional floors for office space or storage. You can even include more rooms on the main floor for specialized repair work or a business storefront. 

Types of Hangar Doors

Once you know your hangar type, you can choose the type of door you want. 

Here are your options:

Sliding Doors

Sliding doors are your best bet if you’re working with a tight budget. The only downfall is that they may require extra space.

If you need to open the entire front of your hangar, you will need to install outriggers that extend past the width of your hangar and use double sliding doors.

If you don’t need that big of an opening, you can forgo the outriggers and push the doors as far as possible to the sides. 

Horizontal Bifold Doors

Horizontal bifold doors allow access to the hangar’s entire width without the need for extra space.

The door opens from the ground up and folds horizontally in the middle. 

If your hangar is on the larger side, you can install hydraulic systems to aid the opening of the door. Use counterweights for this same purpose if you have a smaller hangar.

Horizontal bifold doors are more expensive, but save on space.

Vertical Bifold Doors

Vertical bifold doors use the same concept as the horizontal bifold door, but open across a vertical (rather than horizontal) plane. The doors fold outward like a fan.

Vertical bifold doors have an advantage over horizontal bifold doors in that they don’t need hydraulics or counterweights to open. 

Vertical Lift Doors

Vertical lift doors are like residential garage doors — with a twist. Instead of rolling up and over, these hangar doors simply roll up. 

They also come in motorized or counterweighted versions for ease of use. Vertical lift doors can also save space, but are a little more expensive than the horizontal bifold doors.

Electrical Considerations

You’ve found your perfect hangar design and the right door. Now you just need to determine what electrical components you’ll need. 

Here’s a look at three key electrical considerations for your hangar.

Lighting

Think about where you’ll need to illuminate your hangar, as well as the type of lighting you want to use. 

At a minimum, your hangar will need extensive overhead lighting. It’s also recommended to include supplemental lighting fixtures near the door as well as inside office areas. 

HVAC

If temperature control is necessary for your hangar, you will need to install an HVAC system. HVAC systems require a powerful electrical breaker. Take this into consideration when wiring your hangar.

Technology

Will you use any power tools, computer systems, machinery, diagnostic equipment, or other technological components in your hangar? If your hangar will be used for maintenance, you already know the answer is “yes.”

Make sure you have the electrical capabilities to power these tools. 

Flooring Options

Due to the weight of aircraft, hangars need high-quality concrete floors that can sustain heavy loads.

Consider applying a coating to the concrete floor that protects it from chemicals.

For more information on choosing the right flooring for your aircraft hangar, read AllThingsFlooring’s guide. 

Cladding and Insulation

Protecting your aircraft from the elements involves both cladding and insulation. Cladding will protect your aircraft from the outside, while insulation will do the same from the interior. 

The two main cladding options are zinc and Colorbond. Most airports don’t allow zinc because it’s reflective, which can distract or blind the pilots from the air.

Colorbond comes in many different colors, protects your steel from corrosion, and will not reflect the sun.

Adding insulation to the interior of your hangar will control the temperature. This saves you money on energy bills and extends the life of your aircraft.

Insulation can also reduce how much condensation forms on your hangar roof and drips onto your aircraft.

No special insulation is needed. You can use blanket insulation or foam insulation, depending on your preference.

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Steps for Building an Airplane Hangar

Steps for Building an Airplane Hangar

Once you’ve finalized the plans for your hangar design, gather your building materials and prepare for construction.

Most hangar building systems begin with a simple steel structure, but it’s a little more in depth than that. Let’s break down the steps for building an airplane hangar:

1. Site Preparation

Before you build your hangar, prepare the site so that it can properly support your aircraft. 

If the land is not level, you will need to excavate the soil. Remove any debris and rocks from the plot, build stormwater runoff, and level and compact the soil.

2. Pour Concrete Floor

Most hangars are built with a concrete foundation that doubles as a floor. After you prepare your site, your next step will be to pour concrete. 

Strengthen your concrete foundation with reinforcements. This ensures it can hold the massive aircraft that will be driven upon it. 

Because hangars must have precisely leveled flooring, contractors must be diligent and confirm that the floor meets the minimum grade change requirements.

3. Anchor the Building

Add concrete piers to anchor the building to the ground. You can add them either during or after you’ve poured the foundation.

You will next need to connect the frame of the building to the foundation. Do this by installing steel rods with anchor bolts along the perimeter.

4. Install Trusses

Next, use the installed rods to build the steel frame. This includes the roof trusses, wall beams, and ceiling beams. 

These beams use highly durable thick steel to ensure the hangar can withstand wind and other external loads. 

5. Frame Door

Once you’ve installed the trusses, connect steel beams to build out a frame for the door. This frame will need to fit the dimensions of the door you chose during the design phase. 

6. Install Sheet Metal Paneling

After you frame out the hangar, next you need to cover the frame with sheet metal to enclose it.

This includes the four exterior walls and roof. The same basic material is used for the walls and roof with maybe a slight variation to the shape of the metal sheets.

7. Build the Interior

Now that your hangar is enclosed, you can put together the interior. If your plan includes offices, storage, bathroom facilities, or equipment housing, these areas may require walls, plumbing, and electrical. 

You may want to include more aesthetic interior walls and fixtures. 

8. Install the Door

Next, install the door. Follow the specifications on the frame that has already been built. 

Depending on the type of door you chose, this step may include a hydraulic kit, counterweights, a sliding rack, or extending outriggers.

9. Ramps, Parking, Landscape

If you’re constructing your hangars on an airport property, most of the landscaping may already be done.

You may need to construct a ramp or parking lot if you are adding to an existing lot, or if you are constructing a separate commercial or private hangar.


Project owners must consider all associated needs, laws, and limitations when constructing a commercial airplane hangar.

Contact FMP Construction for your next hangar project. We can help your hangar visions come to fruition.

Up Next: Construction Jobsite Safety: What Site Owners and Stakeholders Need to Know

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