In my previous article I began introducing a few types of ground support equipment. This is the third and final installment of articles focusing on ground support equipment. To recap, here is what we looked at thus far:
- Air Start Units
- Belt Loaders
- Catering Trucks
- Fuel Trucks
- Lavatory Carts and Trucks
Today we will look at four more different types of ground support equipment that is used daily at airports and aircraft grounds around the world. These, along with the previously mentioned equipment models, are all needed in order for the aviation industry to provide safe and reliable services. Let's have a look:
Push-back tugs and tractors
We have all found ourselves stuck at the airport, staring thoughtlessly out the window that overlooks the aircraft ramp. But have you ever noticed those tractors that push an airplane from a gate after it has been boarded or disembarked? Those are called push-back tractors, and they are used to manoeuver an aircraft and help position it for take-off or move it into the hangar. Most push-back tractors are equipped with automatic transmissions and diesel engines.
Stairs and Stair Trucks
As far as commercial flying goes, aircraft are typically connected to a gate in order for passengers to disembark. However, there are many instances when an aircraft is not connected to a gate, in which case aircraft stairs or stair trucks are needed. Ground support equipment crews will typically be equipped with both a mobile un-motorized stair unit and a stair truck.
Tows tractors are similar to push-backs insofar as they are relied on to tow or move otherwise moveable equipment or vehicles. Although it is not designed to push or pull an aircraft, tow tractors are equipped to move baggage carts, catering trucks, and almost any other non-aircraft vehicle. Much like push backs, most tow tractors are equipped with automatic transmissions.
An essential piece of ground service equipment is a wheelchair lift. Designed to allow disabled passengers to board and disembark an aircraft safely and comfortably, wheelchair lifts can be manoeuvered without any difficulty and are very easy to use. Most wheelchair lifts are non-motorized, and are resistant to most harsh weather conditions.
And that, my fellow ground support enthusiasts, concludes our spotlight on ground support equipment. After looking at ten different types of equipment, it becomes clear that there is a lot of action happening on ground-level in order for planes to undergo a smooth operation up in the sky.