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An interior view of the main 450 by 800 foot long aircraft hangar of Topflight Airpark, showing the position of some of the 117 Space-Ray RSTP17 gas-fired tube heaters in the 50 to 70 foot high hangar utilizing Space-Ray's perimeter heating design, 60% of the tube heaters were mounted on the on the perimeter about 35 feet above the floor, with the remaining 40% mounted about 60 feet above the floor next to the for enlarged view of Infrared Radiant Gas Heater

HAGERSTOWN, Maryland - Tom Allgyer, President of Topflight Airpark, admitted that upgrading the heating system in the former Fairchild Industries aircraft maintenance and manufacturing plant to infrared heating was an excellent choice. Since deciding to replace three large oil-fired boilers with a total of 259 infrared heaters from the Space-Ray Division of Gas-Fired Products, Inc., Charlotte, NC, Topflight has obtained substantial fuel savings and a return investment in well under a year.

Records at the plant indicate that heating costs with the old boiler system ranged between $700,000 and $1,000,000 a year, not including the cost of steam used in the production process. "With the Space-Ray heaters, energy costs have been ranging between $135,000 to $200,000 a year, depending on the severity of the winter," Allgyer said. "Return on investment was achieved well within the first year and heating comfort is much more uniform. The result is a more comfortable and productive working environment."click for enlarged view of Infrared Radiant Gas Heater

This equates to energy savings of $565,000 to $800,000 a year and reduction in annual fuel consumption by over 70%.

Conversion to Space-Ray Heaters
Located adjacent to the Washington County Regional Airport in Hagerstown, the former Fairchild Industries plant was converted from what was primarily an aircraft assembly line into mainly aircraft maintenance hangars, some warehouse space and office space.

Built in 1940 and expanded in the early 1950's, the over 1,000,000 sq. ft complex has a combination of flat and pitched roofing with glass windows on some of the exterior walls and various large access doors. To heat the complex, Fairchild Industries used three large oil-fired boilers. "Our first priority was to replace the old system with a more efficient and economical heating system," Allyger noted. "With the boilers, heat distribution was not uniform and the systems, in our opinion, were too noisy, dirty and inefficient, especially during the cold winter months." Allgyer contacted a representative of Space-Ray who analyzed the facility and its heating patterns. Using Space-Ray's free COMPUHEAT® computerized heat loss analysis, Space-Ray determined that by using radiant heat technology, Topflight's annual savings in energy costs could be tremendous and would result in at least an annual fuel reduction of 50%.

For Topflight, Space-Ray specified a total of 209 RSTP17 gas-fired infrared tube heaters, each with a 175,000 BTU/hr capacity, 40 LTU75 unitized low intensity infrared tube heaters, each with a 75,000 BTU/hr capacity, and four LTU60 unitized low intensity infrared tube heaters each with 60,000 BTU/hr capacity. The capacity of the total system is 40,265,000 BTU/hr. Because natural gas is directly available from the nearby pipeline, this fuel source was used for added economy.

Buildings Described
The Topflight complex consists of a 450 ft by 800 ft aircraft hangar and industrial building, a 250 ft by 350 ft Executive Aircraft Hangar, a small 74 ft by 100 ft aircraft hangar used by the Army Reserve to maintain helicopters and a large warehouse structure with six bays, each of which is approximately 45,000 sq. ft.

Helicopter Hanger: Infrared Radiant Gas Heater

Executive Aircraft Hangar (250'x 350') of the Topflight Airpark facility with three large 46 foot high doors. Overall view of the 1,000,000 square foot concrete block and steel Topflight Airpark complex in Hagerstown, Maryland.

The three large buildings are interlinked, with the small aircraft hangar the only separate stand-alone structure. One section of the 450 ft by 800 ft building has 70 ft high ceilings and three large 46 ft high doors along the entire width of the building. Major tenants include J&W Corporation which maintains aircraft as large as a Boeing 727 and 737, and a manufacturer of modular commercial buildings. A second building, the Executive Aircraft Hangar, is 250 ft by 350 ft with 50 ft ceilings. One side of the building is all glass, with the other side consisting of doors with large glass windows. In the warehouse structure, each of the six rental bays is separated by concrete block walls. Two of the bays have 16 ft ceilings. Truck-size doors open and close as necessary. Tenants include Maryland Air Industries, a local Coca-Cola distributor, a record and tape distributor and the U.S. Government. The total number of individuals working in the Topflight complex exceeds 500, with many working in shifts.

Perimeter Heating Layout Detailed
In the main 450 by 800 ft aircraft hangar a perimeter design proven efficient in many other large aircraft installations heated by Space-Ray was used. Approximately 60% of the tube heaters on the perimeter were mounted about 35 ft. above the floor, with the remaining 40% mounted 60 ft. above the floor next to the catwalks.

Installation was simple since Space-Ray heaters are unitized and factory shipped as complete units, with only a few bolts usually necessary for mounting. All areas were also designed with individualized temperature controls for efficiency and heating comfort.

In the Executive Aircraft Hangar, a total of 35 RSTP17 heaters and four LTU75 heaters were installed. For the Army Reserve structure, six RSTP17 heaters were used on one perimeter and eight on the other perimeter.

"In three heating seasons, we have not experienced any major service problems with the heaters," AlIgyer emphasized. "We are extremely satisfied with the units, especially with their clean, efficient and quiet operation."

"We are extremely pleased with how efficiently and effectively this mega-facility is now being heated," noted Bob Genisol, VP Sales and Marketing of Space-Ray. "Annual energy savings of $565,000 to $800,00 is quite impressive. The savings, coupled with heating comfort achieved, speaks for the quality and efficiency behind the Space-Ray tube heaters."