Cologne Lets Airbus Swing

Airport employees and visitors experienced a spectacular crane operation at Cologne Bonn Airport last Saturday. A heavy lift crane weighing 700 tons and around 60 meters in height lifted the “Zero G”, a parabola aircraft formerly used by the German Center for Aerospace (DLR) among others, from the apron to its final location in a Car Park adjacent to the airport.

A huge crane lifted the ‘Zero Gravitation‘ Airbus to its final parking position at CGN  /  courtesy: CGN
A huge crane lifted the ‘Zero Gravitation‘ Airbus to its final parking position at CGN / courtesy: CGN

´During the lift, the Airbus A300, which is 54 meters long and weighing 80 tons hovered in the air for around two hours and was then turned almost 180 degrees before finally “landing” in the parking lot.

Months of planning
This extraordinary operation was a major challenge for all involved and was preceded by months of planning. On the one hand, the aircraft’s static requires a special three-point support rigging, which has to be fastened to the fuselage and wings. On the other hand, the tail fin provided an unusually large surface that was exposed to the wind during the lift. Finally, the Zero G had to be positioned precisely and to the millimeter in the special holding construction.

The operation lasted around 12 hours and was carried out by specialist Riga Mainz GmbH & Co. The family-run company works on construction sites worldwide with its heavy lift cranes, for example in building wind power turbines, bridges and chemical plants. Assembling the Liebherr crane, which was delivered in individual components on 35 trucks, took a total of five days.

New attraction for CGN visitors
The parabola A300 was used to create a weightless environment for passengers up until last year. In total, around 13,180 parabolas were flown by the Zero G. The astronaut, Alexander Gerst, was one among others who experienced zero G gravity on board.

At its new location the Zero G will be converted, in cooperation with the DLR, into a multi-media museum and can be visited as part of guided airport tour.

Airport chief Michael Garvens is delighted by the new attraction at Cologne Bonn Airport: “The Zero G is a real looker and a piece of aviation history. We can now make this incredible exhibit accessible to anyone interested and as such have a new visitor highlight at the airport.”

Heiner Siegmund  /  Michael Taweel

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