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Minot Air Force Base B-52 Maintenance Dock

With a wingspan of 185 feet and an $84 million price tag, the B-52 Stratofortress certainly lives up to its name. The B-52 is at the heart of the U.S. Air Force manned strategic bomber force and with only 58 in active inventory, it’s important to keep these massive machines well maintained.

In 2012, West Plains Engineering worked with a design-build team to develop an 81,150 square foot maintenance hangar at Minot Air Force Base. Our team created mechanical and electrical systems to withstand the extreme North Dakota climate, while delivering LEED-level efficiencies and reliability.


The mechanical system is geothermal, consisting of vertical wells and air-to-air heat exchangers providing ventilation to multiple heat pumps that provide the heating and cooling of the office areas. The hanger bays are ventilated by make-up air and exhaust during summer operation, and heat recovery ventilators during winter. In addition, the entire hanger is heated by gas-fired radiant tube heaters. The maintenance and equipment areas are served by multiple hydronic unit heaters served by gas-fired boilers with ventilation to the areas by conditioned air transfer fed from the make-up air and/or heat recovery ventilators serving the hanger bays. A Building Automation System (BAS) provides complete control over these systems, while also allowing for energy use monitoring.

The plumbing system includes all available means of water efficiencies from dual-flush water closets, pint-flush urinals, and low flow faucets and shower heads. The domestic water is heated by gas water heaters with recirculated hot water throughout the facility. The emergency eyewash units throughout the hanger bays are served by independent point-of-use electric water heaters. An automatic fire suppression system provides fully protected wet fire suppression throughout the facility and a state-of-the-art foam generation suppression system serves the hanger bays.

The electrical system originates on site from a pad mount sectionalizing cabinet feeding a new 1000kVA pad mount oil filled transformer. This supplies power to the new hanger to main services for three fire pumps and a 1200A 480/277V three-phase main service panel distributing loads throughout the building. Weatherproof devices are provided for the hanger bays and garage. A static grounding grid was provided in the hanger bays along with 400 hertz power converters for aircraft power.

Outside Plant communications consists of Base LAN: 12 Strand Single Mode fiber optic cable and Base Voice: 25 Pair Voice Grade Copper cable. These cables are brought into the communication equipment room, which distributes CAT6 cabling from a patch panel to voice and data jacks throughout the building. RG-6 Coaxial cable is provided to TV locations and a public address system can page occupants through speakers.

The fully addressable main fire alarm control panel (FACP) and foam system control panel (FSCP) are located in the Fire Protection Room. The system utilizes a Class A SLC, Class A NAC, and Class B releasing circuit loops. A mass notification system is included to notify occupants of certain ALERTS separate from the fire alarm notification devices.