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Step-By-Step Guide to Aircraft Parking Using an Electric Towbarless Tractor

The primary purpose of an aircraft hangar is to provide a space to store aircraft. Whether a fleet is undergoing routine maintenance tasks or staying sheltered from extreme weather conditions, the efficiency of parked or stored aircraft in a hangar is crucial to operations within the aviation industry.

However, conventional tugs can sometimes make parking aircraft within a hangar a problematic and laborious undertaking for ground personnel. Thankfully, small and agile towbarless electric tugs offer airlines and airports more precise aircraft parking procedures with the flexibility and efficiency needed to maximize every square foot of hangar space. This article will serve as an overview of how to efficiently use every bit of hangar space when parking private and commercial aircraft with a towbarless electric tug.

Please note that this guide is not exhaustive. Contact your aircraft and ground support equipment (GSE) manufacturers for full parking and towing instructions.

Understand the Full Potential of Hangar Space

For overall efficiency and cost-effectiveness, ground personnel must be able to fit the maximum number of stored aircraft within the dimensions of a hangar. To do this, airlines must first have a good understanding of hangar space.

Look for areas within the hangar's layout that aren't being fully utilized for stored aircraft and identify which ground support equipment is used more infrequently. If an airport isn't using hangar space to its total capacity, there will likely be significant areas of dead space between the aircraft. To rectify this, ground personnel can weed out underutilized equipment and use what is known as the Tetris-style aircraft parking technique.

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Tips to Maximize Your Area

Conventional aircraft parking procedures will typically have you tow commercial aircraft backward into a hangar. When working with towbars, there is often no other way to do it, as ground personnel have to consider the exit path of the tug. The lack of precision of conventional tugs forces ground personnel to roll aircraft straight into a hangar and requires a lot of open space for maneuvering.

The Tetris method of maximizing available hangar space is a different system entirely. This aircraft parking procedure takes advantage of the efficiency of towbarless aircraft tugs. It allows ground personnel to freely maneuver aircraft of all sizes into a hangar by "stacking" them to minimize wasted hangar space. Here are a few tips for maximizing space during aircraft parking procedures:

  • 1. Begin filling the hangar with the largest aircraft first and park the smallest planes last to fill hangar space more efficiently.
  • 2. Use aircraft with swept wings to fill the corners of a hangar. Push them into the corners as far as possible before the wings touch the walls. The noses of each aircraft should be pointed toward the corners.
  • 3. There's often a lot of space under the wings of larger commercial aircraft. Use this space to store some of the smaller planes. Then, proceed to fill in the remaining hangar space with the rest of the aircraft.
  • 4. For efficiency's sake, keep more frequently used aircraft near the hangar doors and less used aircraft toward the back of the hangar.

Conventional aircraft tugs play a vital role at your airport. However, it's essential to understand that when using the Tetris method, a traditional aircraft tug might not be the best choice and can often make these maneuvers next to impossible. Instead, you'll need a smaller electric tug that doesn't require a towbar and can work more precisely.

Have the Right Equipment (and Employees) in Place

First and foremost, all airports and facilities need to have ground personnel that can be trusted and relied upon to get operations done. Operations can quickly fall apart without trained ground personnel that can safely transport and park aircraft.

Next, to properly maximize hangar space with parked aircraft, ground personnel will need the right equipment for the job. An electric towbarless tractor is the best piece of equipment to use for efficient aircraft parking procedures. As mentioned, conventional tugs with towbars typically require too much space for maneuverability in front of an aircraft, meaning the Tetris aircraft parking method is simply not an option. By using towbarless electric tugs, ground personnel can work more precisely and naturally. With a much smaller turning radius and traction wheels on the same level as the landing gear, electric towbarless tractors can maneuver where conventional tugs can't, minimizing the space needed for aircraft parking.

Using proper GSE is also crucial to successful commercial aircraft parking. To ensure ground personnel can securely moor an aircraft, the following equipment should be in place:

  • Wheel chocks to properly set the aircraft brakes.
  • Aircraft parking boots to prevent the aircraft from moving when parked for an extended storage period.
  • Aircraft covers to protect critical electronic switches and aircraft systems from debris and accidental operation.

Practice Safety & Precision When Parking Aircraft

When transporting and parking aircraft, it's essential to avoid potential harm to ground personnel as well as damage to aircraft systems and aircraft towing equipment. Ground personnel must be incredibly cautious when attempting to maximize the use of a hangar by minimizing the space between parked aircraft and equipment. This requires reliable equipment, top-notch employees and stringent precision every step of the way.

Once a hangar is filled with stored aircraft, ensure that ground personnel walk around and check the distances between all the aircraft and ground support equipment. Verify that none of the aircraft are touching walls, other aircraft or GSE.

Improve Your Aircraft Parking Efficiency With the Help of Tronair

Intelligently parking aircraft is a simple way for any airport to save time, money and manpower. Not to mention, aircraft parking procedures are simple to implement with the proper techniques and equipment in place. Thankfully, Tronair has the best electric towbarless tractors for the job.

At Tronair, we're known for our diverse and unparalleled range of high-quality ground support equipment product lines. We offer a wide selection of towbarless electric tugs, aircraft parking equipment and more to help maximize your space and make ground operations more efficient. Browse our entire line of electric towbarless tugs today. Have a question or need more information? Contact us today – we're here to help!

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