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Knuffingen Airport: A million flights and not one delay

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01.06.2019 12:11

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Last month, Knuffingen Airport celebrated one million flights. The replica aircraft are accurate down to the tiniest detail and look almost real when taking off and landing. Bosch Rexroth’s highly reliable Linear Motion and Assembly Technology plays a key role in ensuring that the ambitious project operates smoothly. Miniatur Wunderland is home to the world’s biggest model railway and is located in the historical Speicherstadt of Hamburg. 

Knuffingen Airport opened on May 4, 2011: after six years’ construction and development, 150,000 hours of work and around 50,000 lines of programming code. 15,000 mini figures bring the airport to life. The 52 model aircraft, all individually produced and costing up to €20,000, are a particular highlight. They are identical to the originals in all but size and look almost real when taking off and landing. And just like full-sized airports, the miniature airport is open to visitors 365 days a year. To ensure that the airport operates smoothly, all components have to work with maximum precision. Even after a million flights, there has never been a single delay at Knuffingen Airport. 

In order to make this possible, the airport constructors used components from the field of factory automation. The aircrafts’ approach begins with these components behind the scenes. From its waiting position on one of three levels, the model aircraft rolls automatically towards a lift platform. The CKR linear axes used must position the platform exactly. After all, the wheels of the aircraft must not get stuck when moving onto the platform. The lift brings the aircraft onto the airport level where it is skewered by the take-off system. This too happens behind the scenes. The take-off system consists of two thin rods which are each mounted on the carriages of two CKK Compact Modules. This way, it is possible to tilt the model aircraft forwards for the landing. In order to do this, the rods move into two openings in the rear of the aircraft and lift the aircraft until it reaches approach altitude. The Compact Modules are connected to a linear axis underneath the runway which moves the aircraft forwards. Once the window has been moved to the corresponding approach altitude, the aircraft can begin its approach.

Rexroth’s Linear Motion Technology was chosen for its long operating life and precision in combination with the wide range of products on offer. After all, the components from the drive and control specialist are not being used in an industrial setting as they normally would be. Friedrich-Wilhelm Dülm, sales representive for Linear Motion Technology in the north of Germany, is delighted with the result: “The biggest challenge during this project was finding the right components for this extraordinary application. Thanks to the excellent working relationship with the Technical Manager at Miniatur Wunderland, the right products could be selected quickly and easily.”

After more than a million take-offs and landings, the operators and Friedrich-Wilhelm Dülm are not the only ones who appreciate the trouble-free air traffic over Knuffingen: “The high precision and long operating life of our components allow these aircraft to take off and land 365 days a year – much to the delight of the numerous visitors.”

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