Pushback Tractors – Aircraft Ramp Service Equipment
Ground service trucks or ramp service trucks that include water servicing units and toilet servicing units are in use for airport operations, from smallest regional airports to major, international hubs.
Aircraft de-icing and toilet/water servicing is for any size of aircraft, from small commuters to large passenger airline support. Toilet and water service trucks have tank capacities of 500 to 5,000 litres. There are international regulatory standards governing the manufacture of the trucks to a standard quality.
Pushback is a ramp service, an airport procedure during which an aircraft is pushed backwards from an airport gate other than under its own power. The low-profile vehicles used are called pushback tractors or aircraft tugs. If the aircraft were moved backwards on the ground using reverse thrust, the resulting jet blast or prop wash might cause damage to the terminal building or equipment and people working nearby. Sucking debris into an aero engine would cause damage. Pushback tractors are therefore the method used to move the aircraft away from the gate.
Airport scissor lifts and elevated work platforms are used to access hard to reach areas of the aircraft when it is on the ground, at varying heights, and suitable for work inside and outside the hanger. They are fitted with beacons and market lights to warn workers when equipment is moving or in operation, thus ensuring compliance standards, that the machines comply with airport safety regulations. There are main deck loaders and lower deck loaders, high lifts and scissor lifts. Aircraft deck loaders come into their own when the aircraft being accessed is a cargo freighter, pallet/container loaders and transporters up to main deck loaders with capacities of 35,000kg. Catering high lifts, cabin cleaning high lifts and passenger with reduced mobility (PRM) high lifts apply more to the passenger airliner.
Airstart units or air start carts provide compressed air to a jet engine at sufficient flow and pressure to turn the jet at high enough rpm to start the engine. No need for an on board system to start the jet engine, saving valuable space and weight.
Passenger stairs can be simple towable stairs or they can be self-propelled passenger stairs with roof for porotecting the passengers from the elements.
Hydraulic mules or hydraulic test stands as they are sometimes known, work with Skydrol or any other proprietary fluids. They can therefore be referred to as Skydrol mules. There are designs that are suitable for hydrocarbon hydraulic fluids (for example MIL-H-5606E) and versions for phosphate-ester hydraulic fluids (Skydrol and Hyjet).