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Hangar collapse triggers insurance row

AUSTRALIAN STRUCTURES consultant Strarch International was this week involved in a row with its insurers over the collapse of a partially erected aircraft hangar last year.

It contests independent reports commissioned by its insurer QBE which claim the original design was flawed. The consultant believes failure of a single bolt caused the accident.

The hangar collapsed at RAAF Fairbairn in Canberra last April while the Strarch International designed steel portal frame hangar was being built using a process known as stress erection (NCE 5 June 2003). No one was hurt.

Strarch International claims QBE's failure to pay out a £1.5M claim relating to the collapse forced it into administration.

Strarch International's administrator Hall Chadwick said that after the collapse, the hangar's contractor Construction Control withheld 'outstanding payments until the hangar was restored to at least its pre-collapsed position'.

Documents released by Hall Chadwick also say QBE refused to pay Strarch International's £1.5M collapse related claim last April, but that the firm still had to rebuild the hangar.

By November Strarch International had run out of money and was forced into administration.

A Malaysian company bought out Strarch International last month and renamed it Strarch Australia. The Canberra hangar contract was not part of the deal and remains with Strarch International's administrators.

Construction of the hangar involved assembling the roof structure on low scaffold platforms.

It was then erected by stressing tendons running through the bottom chord of the roof truss to lift it off props and into its final arched position.

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