‘Hangar Rash’ Prevention System Uses Proximity-Warning Software


The National Business Aviation Association estimates that so-called “hangar rash”—accidental ground damage involving business aircraft—can run as high as $150 million per year, industrywide. The damage includes much more than just the cost of repairs, which can run into tens of thousands for even a minor scratch. There is also the cost of fleet downtime and diminution of resale value for an aircraft with damage history. And with composite airframes, damage repairs can run exponentially higher in cost than with traditional aluminum aircraft. All these factors can also cause insurance rates to increase exponentially.

With this in mind, a California company has developed an Artificial Intelligence-based product that makes moving aircraft in and out of hangars safer. Hangar Safe consists of an array of high-definition cameras mounted inside the hangar. They are connected to proprietary software that works on the same proximity-warning principles as automotive backup cameras. There is nothing installed on the aircraft, and all that is required inside the hangar is electrical power and an internet connection.

When the cameras detect a dangerously close situation, sirens and flashing LED lights warn the tug drivers and wing walkers. Those roles are not eliminated, just enhanced by Hangar Safe technology, according to the company. And should the warnings go unheeded and the aircraft gets too close to an obstruction, the system sends an email to the hangar manager with video recording of the event.

To date, the system can only warn of danger involving aircraft in peril of contact with the structure of the hangar. But according to Hangar Safe, software that can also detect when one aircraft gets dangerously close to another aircraft will be available sometime next year.

Hangar Safe is a patented, subscription-based product costing $900 per month and up, per hangar, based on the size of the building. There is also a one-time installation fee, starting at $2,500—depending on the size and complexity of the hangar interior. Hangar Safe says it is currently appropriate for hangars of 10,000 square feet or larger, but the company invites anyone interested in exploring prospects for a downsized version to contact them.

Mark Phelps
Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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  1. $2,500 plus $900/month?
    Honestly, my pair of wooden block on the floor have worked fine for 50 years and they don’t bother my hanger mates with loud sirens every time I happen to put the plane in.

    • I wish. Just last year, my hangar mate backed his plane into my tail (it’s a hangar with doors on both ends). He missed the painted line on the floor, the wooden blocks, the fact he was way behind his door threshold, and my “remove before flight” flags I stick on every static wick and pushed right into my tail. $15k to remove the elevator, ship it to a specialist to reskin, repaint, reinstall.

    • Unfortunately, that’s just the kind of thinking that leads to VFR into IMC. I suspect sticker shock motivated your retort.

      That price is indeed out of line. Everyone in tech nowadays wants ridiculous recurring income.

      I’d suggest someone come up with proximity sensors that crews can attach to the tips for ground movement. Much less expensive, and less likely to cause false alarms.

      • VFR into IMC (and pushing a plane into a hanger wall) require NON-thinking and gross inattention to the matters at hand. Honestly I think, by definition, that people deserve bad outcomes when operating aircraft badly.
        If you have a propensity to drinking and then backing your Gulfstream back into the hangar then just go down to a patio store and get some “croaking frog” motion sensors. At least the sound they emit won’t startle your neighbors at the airport and will only cost $15 each.

  2. That’s strange. Hangar rash. That implies that aircraft are actually being used and moved. Many of the hangars I’ve seen either don’t have an aircraft in it, are used as a storage shed or man cave, or if there’s an airplane in said hangar, it hasn’t been moved or flown in years. If not decades…

    • One of my pet peeves.

      It angers me to see a hangar (often with government/FAA subsidized rent pricing) filled with crap and no airplane while another airplane is damaged continuously outside in the elements. A pox on these people.

      • Where does the FAA or government subsidize hangar rent pricing? Sure don’t know of any such deals around where I live. But I agree that having a hangar full of junk and no airplane should not be allowed. At my home airport, the T-hangar next to mine is used by the airport operator to store his courtesy van used to ferry fat cats from their jets into town. They get upset if I put anything more than a lawn chair in mine for a place to sit down. So much for following their own rules! For the price they charge for hangar rent I would imagine they could build a shed for the van and pay for it in a couple month’s rent.

  3. Is yet another electronic backstop to dumb down a human being and rob him/her of his ingenuity and common sense really necessary? At a certain point, it becomes ludicrous, if not pathetic. A hangar wall isn’t a mountain, but for those who have the money, go ahead and waste it.

  4. As usual, the comments are an interesting mix of thoughtful understanding, and accusatorial invective. what frightens me most is the nasty judgementalism…the opposite of the type of constant rational and realistic thinking that are necessary to pilot an aircraft.

    • Realism is that proximity motion alarms these days cost pennies.
      Realism is that you already have security cameras if you have a 15 million dollar jet.
      Honestly I can’t think of anything more annoying than adding ear piercing alarms when trying to work on the aft end of my plane in a tin hangar.