Guide to Airport Ground Vehicles
Airport ground vehicles are the unsung heroes of airport operations and the aviation industry as a whole. While they may lack the glamour and "bigness" of the airlines they serve, without them, it would be impossible for the modern aviation industry to properly function.
We've explored everything from landing gear equipment to types of aircraft towbars, but consider this your go-to guide for the various types of airport support vehicles. Keep reading for a high-level look at airport ground vehicles and ground support equipment (GSE), what they do and why they're so critical to ground handling operations.
Pushback and Aircraft Tugs
Pushback tugs and towbarless tugs are the workhorses of most airport hangars and MRO facilities. These airport tugs are needed to tow and taxi civilian, commercial and military aircraft. The low-profile design allows for the tug or towbar to get underneath the nose of the airplane to attach to the aircraft's landing gear. Then, the tug can safely push the aircraft back from the gate. Ground support equipment vehicles like these have a very high torque to move incredibly heavy and fully loaded aircraft. It's important to note that aircraft tugs can also pull airplanes, which allows aircraft engines to be kept off while being transported.
Platform stairs are commonly used for both aircraft maintenance and passenger use. Maintenance stairs allow technicians to safely work on aircraft and are designed to fit almost any size airplane. Each platform stair product features non-slip grating, double-acting hydraulic hand pumps and a detachable towbar for easy maneuvering.
Aircraft maintenance platforms, similar to platform stairs, allow technicians to access hard-to-reach spots on aircraft for regular maintenance and repair. Each is comprised of a nonslip composite platform that can be raised and lowered using a hydraulic foot pedal pump. Towbars, swivel casters and locks allow for easy positioning, and rubber bumpers ensure total aircraft protection.
Snow and winter weather can wreak havoc on runways and bring major airline hubs to a standstill. Because of this, any fleet of airport vehicles must include snow-plowing, snow-sweeping and snow-blowing vehicles. Snow-plowing vehicles allow ground crews to thoroughly clear the runway and apron of snow, and ensure the safety and efficiency of aircraft and airport utility vehicles.
In addition to snow, ice can often form at critical spots on an aircraft in inclement weather. To prevent this, aircraft deicing equipment must be used to rid the airplane of any snow or ice. Both deicer carts and portable deicers are equipped with long, articulated nozzles that allow you to spray down the aircraft using a mix of hot water and propylene glycol. It will typically be up to the captain whether or not deicing is required. While deicing an airplane can cause delays, it's critical to avoid reduced visibility, lift on the wings and unnecessary accidents.
Ground Power Units
Whether self-propelled or towed, aircraft ground power units are small electrical generators used to supply clean power to both ground support equipment and aircraft that's sitting idle with the engines switched off. This specified power is delivered through the use of a standard electrical system, battery pack and diesel, gasoline or a small turbine engine. Each Tronair ground power unit is rugged, compact and easily maneuverable, coming with a tier 3, 28.5 VDC supply.
If an aircraft doesn't have fuel, it simply can't run. Therefore, aircraft fuel servicing tools and vehicles are critical to a ground support equipment fleet. Self-propelled fuel trucks are similar to those that supply fuel to gas stations. Hydrant dispensers pump fuel from ground pipelines through a system of hoses and hydrants in order to fuel aircraft. In addition to these vehicles, servicing tools and test units aid in safely fueling and defueling aircraft. They also work by removing water and particles to provide more miles per tank.
Shop Airport Ground Vehicles, Carts & More With Tronair
From transporting light single-engine aircraft to maintaining large commercial airplanes, Tronair is proud to provide customers with a diverse range of premium airport ground vehicles that are built to last. Have a question or need additional information about a specific model or any of our various product lines? Reach out today. We'll help put together a custom solution tailored to your needs.