How do they attach the wings on an aeroplane?

It’s quite common for the wings of an aeroplane to be made at an entirely different location from the fuselage – so how do they go about fitting them together?

The assembly requires both heavy lifting & maximum precision – a wing subassembly can weigh as much as 2,000 Kg [4,400 Lbs] before any of the mechanical components have been installed & the many fixing holes used to attach the wing to the fuselage have to be perfectly aligned. Aircraft wing subassemblies can take up to 50 working hours to complete so the manoeuvring of them needs to be both completely controlled & efficient to comply with production schedules.

Omnitrack ‘double recirculation’ Ball Transfer Units have been used to move heavy items with maximum precision & minimum effort since 1952. An innovative internal mechanism allows them to be used at any angle of orientation without any loss in load bearing capacity or quality of movement – something which traditional ‘hemispherical cup’ ball units fail to provide. With the largest unit in the High Capacity range currently offering 4,550 Kg [10,000 Lbs] of load bearing capacity, aircraft wings can be easily supported & positioned using just a small number of ball units.

The 9840, for example, has a maximum load rating of 1100 Kg [2420 Lbs] so just 3 of these units could be used ‘ball down’ on hardened track to manually handle a 2,000 Kg [4,400 Lbs] aircraft wing with as little as only 100 N of horizontal force required to move it. The combination of ‘effortless’ movement & maximum precision provides aircraft wing handlers an efficient method of aligning the wings with the fuselage without the need for expensive crane networks or relatively cumbersome electric tugs.

The 9840 can be found in the HIGH CAPACITY ball transfer units page of our website, in the 98 Series Tolerance Ring section.