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First French composite heliport

News International-French

14 Feb 2011

At the request of the Marie Lannelongue surgery centre, TH Composites designed and built France’s first heliport made of composite materials, in compliance with the new ICAO and ITAC 13 civil aviation regulations on transporting people by helicopter. The composite helipad sits on a steel spaceframe structure that is attached to the building by twelve elastic, vibrationdamping supports.

The specifications and the location on the terrace required two 7-m overhangs and a minimum design load to avoid the need to reinforce the building’s foundation with piles. Also, in order to minimize the nuisances inside the clinic, the construction lead time had to be very short.



The construction process

To create the platform, interlocking pultruded composite box beams (500 mm x 150 mm) were used, with two pre-mounted intumescent, bi-material joints for seal tightness.



The weight of the 700-m² heliport platform includes 30 metric tons of composites and 35 metric tons of metal space frame. The platform was entirely pre-mounted. It took two weeks to mount the space frame structure on site, and four weeks for the composite platform. See completed heliport.



Standards and materials

CSTB, the French scientific and technical centre for the building industry, carried out load and leak tests on the profiles (test report EEM 08 2601 2624) and fire behaviour tests (test report RA04-00882) to guarantee the structure’s durability.



The type of composite beam used was pultruded by Top Glass, and weighs 42kg/m². The acrylic resin was modified with fillers to improve the fire resistance (class M1 F0). The intumescent bi-material joints can expand to up to 20 times their volume at temperatures starting at 300°C.


Main characteristics of the composite floor
  • Substantially greater fire resistance than aluminium or steel (very low thermal conductivity)
  • Low weight
  • Corrosion resistance
  • Resistance to marine environments
  • Greater fatigue strength than metals
  • Integrated de-icing system
  • Rapid assembly
  • Floor totally seal tight, even in case of fire (no deformation of the material’s structure)



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