What’s the Difference Between a Sunshade and a Hangar?

What’s the Difference Between Sunshades & Hangars If you’re interested in the aviation industry, you may have heard of sunshades and hangars and are wondering what the difference is between these two types of buildings. Both essentially serve the same function – aircraft maintenance – but in different ways.

Form Follows Function

Here are some features of sunshades and hangars that will be helpful in understanding the difference:


A sunshade is more of a shelter than a building, providing sun protection for maintenance crews and aircraft. Its small size allows it to be installed directly on the flight line.


Hangars are buildings that tend to be much larger in size than sunshades and are used for servicing larger aircraft and long-term storage.

Why Fabric Sunshades & Hangars Are So Popular

At Big Top, we’ve designed countless fabric sunshades and hangars for our clients in the aviation industry and the U.S. military. There are countless reasons why our shelters are so popular, and they include:

Superior UV Protection

The fabric roof in our sunshades and hangars is formulated to repel up to 99.95 percent of UV-A and UV-B radiation, offering exceptional protection for workers and helping to preserve the paint and electronics of aircraft. The roof also helps to maintain an interior temperature that is, on average, 15 degrees cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter than the temperature outside, keeping maintenance crews comfortable throughout the day.

Natural Lighting

The translucent fabric roof allows sunlight to illuminate the interior naturally, eliminating the need for an artificial lighting system and the energy costs that go with it.

Freedom of Movement

Big Top’s hangars and sunshades can be anchored to nearly any type of foundation, including asphalt, making them a versatile choice for both public and private airports as well as military bases located anywhere in the world. They can also be moved around the flight line intact using a crane if the need should arise and can be disassembled and shipped to another location.

Low Costs

A fabric shelter from Big Top costs far less to construct than a traditional T-hangar, and it takes much less time to build, resulting in significant cost savings.

A Custom Design for Your Unique Needs

Fabric HangarAt Big Top, we don’t sell one-size-fits-all shelter solutions. Rather, we’ll work closely with you to create the perfect sunshade or hangar for your operations. We can include anything from large bay doors and a ventilation system to a durable roadway and engineering for heavy wind and snow.

Ensuring Mission Readiness

Our flight line sun protection shelters (FSPS) ensure mission readiness for the U.S. military and are compliant with U.S. Air Force Sunshade Management (AFSM), Air Force Instruction (AFI), and IBC as approved by USACE. Additionally, our hangars and sunshades are Berry Amendment compliant.

To learn more about how Big Top’s fabric sunshades and hangars are used in the aviation industry, contact us today. When you do, we’ll be happy to discuss our turnkey design, installation, and support services with you.

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