I work alone at night doing line operations (fueling, tugging/towing, etc.) and emergency services (police, fire and EMS) at my airport. When a pilot/customer comes in and wants to know if we have hangar space available for their aircraft, it would be nice when planning aircraft placement in those hangars to have figures to scale of various aircraft. That way you can see whether or not a specific aircraft can indeed fit, and in what configuration, before trying as I rarely (if ever) have a "spotter" or a wing-walker.

Or perhaps even software or a computer program. Put in the hangar dimensions and which aircraft are to be placed.

  • $\begingroup$ I guess it would be the same as the software used to cut shapes out of (one-sided) fabric, while minimising waste, but I like the model idea - really quick and intuitive. $\endgroup$
    – Strawberry
    Nov 27, 2017 at 10:29
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    $\begingroup$ staxplanes.com appears to do what you want. $\endgroup$
    – Terry
    Jun 16, 2019 at 21:30

4 Answers 4


I’ve not heard of software programs to do this, but the Navy has made use of a relatively low tech solution to address this problem for decades aboard their aircraft carriers.

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Known simply as the Ouija Board, the aircraft handler and his crew utilize a scaled physical map of both the carrier flight deck and hangar deck along with appropriately scaled footprint models of aircraft in order to track and plan aircraft movements.

I’d guess a similar scheme could be employed to solve your problems.

  • 6
    $\begingroup$ You could use magnets on the backs of the footprint models to make a version that hangs on a wall, for that matter, if horizontal space was at a premium $\endgroup$ Nov 26, 2017 at 18:13
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    $\begingroup$ This is cool, but you need accurate scale models. This is much easier on a carrier, where there aren't many different models of plane, than in an airport situation like the OP describes, I'd imagine. "Can you fit my plane in your hangar"? "IDK, did you bring a 1/32nd scale model of it?" $\endgroup$ Nov 27, 2017 at 10:38
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    $\begingroup$ @PeterCordes No, you wouldn't need accurate models for a hangar model. You just need a few different sized discs/rectangles that equate to 6-7 different sized aircraft. The range of sizes really depends on the expected range of aircraft to be stored. $\endgroup$
    – user12007
    Nov 27, 2017 at 11:56
  • $\begingroup$ If there is no algorithm , then using a painting software can do it too. Or a developer can write 50 lines of Javascript. $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Nov 28, 2017 at 8:12

There’s at least one software solution that can be used to address this for a wide range of aircraft types. In my old company, we have used a software called PathPlanner and looked at another one called Aeroturn to simulate aircraft ground manoeuvring. The same or similar software products are also used for airport design. They would, as far as I can see, very well allow to simulate hangar occupancy as well.


We solved a similar problem of optimization for a customer once which is an analog of this. The exact algorithm used was simulated annealing. If the same problem were presented today, there would be many competing alternative algorithms, generally in the class of genetic algorithms.

The problem of optimization presents itself in many aviation related activities, from packing aircraft, to routing aircraft, and in a recent instance, to optimizing dynamically flights in a battlefield, to factor in new situations, and adjust the costs and risks depending upon the rules established by command.

The interested person might start with an analog of the problem, which is the traveling salesman problem. One might also consider watching: "The Secret Rules of Modern Living: Algorithms," a one hour movie on similar topics, where air traffic sequencing is discussed.

In short, the problem is trivial with a handful of planes to fit in a hangar, and grows rapidly as the numbers increase. So much so that it rapidly becomes seemingly unsolvable. Optimization algorithms generally do not find perfect solutions, but find approximations, which are practically close enough.

  • $\begingroup$ A former client disclosed to me that they solve this problem using a interference detection software package running on AutoCAD. $\endgroup$
    – mongo
    Jun 3, 2018 at 7:54

There is a program called Stax that runs on Mac, Windows, and iPad that probably does what you're looking for.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Is there a link to the specific feature on their site? I can't seem to find it mentioned, but the site is kind of a mess. $\endgroup$
    – zymhan
    Jun 17, 2019 at 19:14
  • $\begingroup$ staxplanes.com is the website $\endgroup$
    – Crip Hurly
    Oct 15, 2019 at 14:56

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