Global safety company, MSA Safety, has partnered with Flybe – the largest independent regional airline in Europe – to provide safety equipment across multiple UK sites. This equipment will help to safeguard aviation engineers while they work at height.

The brief

Flybe is a British-based airline, headquartered in Exeter, England. Every year it carries eight million passengers to and from 55 airports across the UK and Europe, with over 143 routes in 8 countries. The airline was originally launched in 1979 before being acquired by Connect Airways – a consortium comprising Virgin Atlantic, Stobart Group and Cyrus Capital Partners – in February 2019.

With such a huge responsibility of carrying passengers across Europe, safety is obviously of paramount importance for both workers and passengers alike. As such – as part of its commitment to its line engineers’ safety – Flybe approached MSA Safety to provide a comprehensive work at height solution for engineers carrying out tasks on a fleet of Embraer 175, 195 and Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 aircraft. The solution had to allow workers safe access to aircraft fuselage, stabilisers and wings, inside and outside, all year round.

The solution

MSA was an obvious partner, with a long heritage of facilitating safe access for workers during both aircraft maintenance and construction. Working together with Flybe to understand the scope of works required, MSA supplied the portable Latchways WinGrip® All in One (AIO) vacuum anchor.

The WinGrip® Vacuum Anchor is specified in the AMM for both Airbus and Boeing. It is used in both manufacturing and maintenance facilities for wide-bodied and narrow-bodied aircraft – military and commercial alike. Chosen by the world’s leading manufacturers, its flexibility and reliability make it a trusted solution throughout the aviation industry. WinGrip® does not use any electrical componentry to create vacuum and can be used in different configurations for pylon, wing, tail or fuselage work. In case a fall should happen, energy is absorbed by the anchor, minimising load placed back to the aircraft. The WinGrip® All in One (AIO) vacuum anchor is ideally suited for carrying out maintenance both in the hangar and out on the apron with a robust design capable of withstanding wet weather conditions.  

Protecting people, protecting lives

Sam Thomas, MSA’s Fall Protection Systems and Solutions Sales Leader for the UK and Ireland, commented: “The aviation industry is full of instances where people are required to work at height, which obviously carries many potential risks. A typical aircraft’s wings, for example, are often six foot – or more – off the ground. This potential risk combined with the fact that the skin of an aircraft can’t be penetrated or damaged requires a very unique fall protection solution. That’s what the WinGrip All in One solution provides – a non-penetrative, pneumatic vacuum anchor that enables safe working at height without damaging the aircraft. Its convenient portability also makes it easy to move from hangar to line.”