The project has required a very sensitive design and construction program that has allowed installation of new equipment, and demolition and reconstruction of nearly 20 acres of infrastructure while adjacent F-35 production continued unabated.
Even the smallest stray dust particle in the wrong place could cause considerable damage to the sophisticated aircraft being built "next door," so the reconstruction has to be built and installed in adjoining work sites completely sealed by temporary barrier systems.
"These projects are schedule driven and uniquely challenging from a working conditions standpoint and the design must be considerate of that," said Marshal Banks, a structural engineer with Burns & McDonnell's Global Facilities division.
"This work is being performed within 50 feet of the most advanced fighter ever assembled. We create ducted negative air construction sites so all the debris and dust particles are blown outside the facility and never enter the production space."
Foreign object debris is considered any article or substance alien to the aircraft or assembly that has been allowed to invade the product including rock, stone, gravel or particles of rust.
The work has included demolishing acres of existing concrete slab, excavating, installing above and subgrade workstation utilities, backfilling and installing a new high performance manufacturing floor.
The sprawling plant opened in 1941 to manufacture B-24 bombers and has been a mainstay of U.S. defense work since then. Beginning in 2002, Lockheed Martin began a multi-decade renovation co-piloted by Burns & McDonnell to convert existing production space for F-16 and F-22 fighter aircraft to begin manufacturing the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the most advanced aircraft in the Air Force arsenal.
The pace of F-35 production renovation accelerated in 2011 when Lockheed Martin and Burns & McDonnell started preparations to move from low-rate initial production to full rate production.
In addition to the recent upgrades, Burns & McDonnell has performed program management and integration for manufacturing equipment and flight line facilities to help Lockheed Martin achieve the F-35 full rate production.
The large scale F-35 driven renovations at the Fort Worth plant are expected to continue through the next few years. This latest collaboration with Lockheed Martin is the most recent example of a partnership between the two firms going back to 1994 when Burns & McDonnell assisted with an F-22 fighter plant in Marietta, GA.