METOP-SG : The very Low-Lands

Some Transport projects take days of preparation when other take months, perhaps years to finally take shape, and it’s always with as much passion and satisfaction that we attend their achievement.

The studies about routing some AIRBUS DS containers towards Netherlands started several years ago. Indeed, if highness is not one of the criteria that defines a special transport in France, it’s not the case in the country of Van Gogh. It was not easy to find a solution as Netherlands impose an overall height limit of 4.45 meters for convoys with the possibility of lowering it to 4.35 meters to go under some bridges.

An encounter between CHABRILLAC and HERMANN PAULE in 2013 brought up the solution, thanks to the hubhebelkesselbrücke trailers PAULE owns. A first operation performed successfully in partnership between Austria and France allowed CHABRILLAC to test and validate the solution.

When AIRBUS DEFENSE & SPACE finally announced, at the end of year 2018, the transport of a METOP-SG Satellite from Toulouse to Noordwijk test facility with a 4.2 meters high container, CHABRILLAC turned towards PAULE to prepare and provide this operation. A Technical quality Audit operated by AIRBUS DS in PAULE’s facility of Stuttgart approved, in turn, the solution.

After a three months preparation in order to obtain authorizations from crossed countries and prepare some technical elements, PAULE and CHABRILLAC were ready on time for loading the meteorological Satellite at AIRBUS DS facility in Toulouse. Despite the inherent clutter of a convoy with such a caliber ( 32 x 4.8 x 4.5 meters), despite the difficulties increased by Bank holidays and, ironically, lowly lenient meteorological conditions, thanks to the professionalism of the convoy crew and with the CNSM support, the truck crossed the ESA/ETS gate in Noordwijk on the appointed day to deliver its load which was highly-anticipated by the project teams. One more time CHABRILLAC could proudly, with support of its German partner, honor its commitment before operating the return journey of the empty container to Toulouse.

A several months trial period is scheduled for this satellite, which will, as early as 2021, from an heliosynchronous polar orbit, provide precious observation data.

As a result of a two Route To Space Alliance members collaboration, combining expertise and specific material, the METOP-SG convoy was the result of a long groundwork and, as with each ones of our transports we learn new lessons for further operations.  CHABRILLAC keeps reinventing itself to always provide its customers a tailor-made transport!