Common Ground Support Equipment
When an aircraft is parked at a terminal and is awaiting its next flight operation, it is crucial that servicing can quickly be conducted to ensure rapid turn-around times for maintaining tight airline scheduling. With the use of ground support equipment (GSE), various operations may be carried out while the aircraft is on the runway. Ground support equipment can serve many needs, including ground power operations, loading operations for passengers and cargo, aircraft mobility, and much more.
Pushback Tractors and Tugs
As aircraft can have powerful engines that are costly to run and present hazards to surrounding equipment and personnel while operating, it is not optimal to have the aircraft back itself up from the gate. Instead of risking damage or unnecessarily burning through aviation fuel, pushback tractors and tugs serve as robust equipment pieces that push the aircraft away from the gate so that they may be brought to the runway or a hangar. Depending on the size and weight of the aircraft, there are many variations of pushback tractors and tugs which may operate differently from one another, such as being a manual, hand-held equipment piece or a robust, remote-controlled vehicle.
Belt and Container Loaders
In order to quickly move cargo in and out of aircraft to maintain set schedules, crews regularly use what are known as belt loaders and container loaders. Belt loaders are most beneficial for cargo or baggage that is not placed within containers, and such equipment utilizes a conveyor belt to quickly transport materials into the door of the aircraft’s baggage compartment. Container loaders, on the other hand, are those that have a platform that is capable of raising and lowering as needed to assist the loading and unloading process. With the use of pallets placed on wheels, moving items in and out of the aircraft can be done with ease.
Baggage Carts and Luggage Tugs
Once all the baggage and cargo of an aircraft has been removed, there needs to be a means of transporting everything to the terminal or sorting facility. With baggage carts, loose baggage, cargo cartons, mail bags, and other items may quickly be moved around an airport. As luggage carts cannot move themselves, they are regularly used alongside luggage tugs.
To ensure the cleanliness and readiness of the aircraft for its next set of passengers, lavatory trucks empty and refill the lavatories of aircraft between flights. During a typical flight, waste is stored within tanks, and the trucks remove this waste before inserting water and disinfectants to ensure cleanliness. While some lavatory trucks are self-powered, others may simply be a cart that is transported with the use of a tug.
Ground Power Units
While passengers are boarding the aircraft and checks are being conducted in preparation for the flight, power is often needed for operating systems, providing lighting, and other functionalities. While the engine is beginning its operations, ground power units serve to ensure power is provided to the aircraft and such equipment may assist in the starting process.