An Airplane Tug: Characteristics And Functions

An Airplane Tug: Characteristics And Functions

If you glance out of your window as your plane is moving towards the tarmac, you just may be able to see a small vehicle pushing the plane. The same type of vehicles is present at every airport across the country and is able to handle different types of aircraft coming and going. These are called pushbacks or an airplane tug.

Basic Functions of an Airplane Tug

An airplane tug is essentially an engine with wheels. It is a very specific type of ground support equipment (GSE) used in a procedure called a pushback. Essentially, airplane, aircraft or pushback tugs have a singular function. They move planes into the right spot or position. As a result, they push aircraft into their gates. They also push them out of their gates until they can maneuver onto the right take off lane on the tarmac. An aircraft tug may also be responsible for pushing the aircraft into its hangar.

Airplane Tug: Basic Types

Not surprising considering the different sizes of aircraft flying the sizes these days, there is no one size airplane tug to suit all. Some perform a simple function. They are there to lift only the nose gear up from the ground; some push harder using a tow bar. Yet, there are also towbarless pushback tugs in operation capable of handling the ever increasingly larger aircraft.

Yet, when it comes down to discussing types of airplane tugs, the two most common are regular Tugs and SuperTugs.

 * Regular Airplane Tug: These are available in different styles and sizes. They may be fueled by a battery or run on gas. The driver may sit in a cab or be exposed to the elements. In all cases, the driver will sit behind a steering wheel. On his or her head will sit a headset to connect him or her to the pilots. This is crucial so both the pilot and the pushback are able to communicate when departures from a gate will occur. It also lets the airplane rug let the pilot know how many people will be involved in the procedure. A 2-person push, for example, means there will be a tug driver and a wing walker.

 * SuperTug or High-Speed Tug: The differences between an airplane tug and a SuperTug are its speed, strength and method. A regular airplane tug uses a tow bar; a SuperTug lifts the nose of the airplane off the ground by wrapping itself around the gear. The method of driving does not vary from a regular aircraft tug.

Airplane Tug
Next time you are at an airport, keep your eyes open. Look beyond the aircraft and the baggage carriers. Watch out for what those little machines can do. These are the real movers and shakers at the airport – the incredible airplane tug.

Mercury GSE can help you find the right products and services complete with warranties and maintenance. Go talk to their professionals by visiting Mercurygse.com.

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