Air Transport World

Gradual changes seen in ground support equipment. (and training)

Gradual changes seen in ground support equipment

Ground support equipment is the airline version of the proverbial nail for want of which a horse, a man and presumably a battle was lost. Glamourless, but vital. It includes all those pieces of equipment you see around the ramp, from pallet dollies to massive tugs, from simple passenger stairs to sophisticated boarding bridges, from mobile test stands to engine starting units, from fueling/defueling vehicles to aircraft de-icing and washing vehicles, from lavatory service units to potable water units, from ground powered units to ground conditioned-air systems, from conveyor belts to cargo loaders, from catering and handicapped passenger vehicles to work platforms. Without them that expensive airplane would have a hard time getting up in the air where it earns its money.

With the overall design of aircraft changing only gradually, one does not expect to see revolutionary changes in ground equipment, and indeed this is the case. To look backward for a moment, the first boarding bridge that enabled a passenger to move between terminal and plane protected from the weather was a revolutionary innovation. The development of fixed, central installations for the provision of 400Hz power and conditioned air could be considered revolutionary. The substitution of battery power for gasoline or diesel fuel for ground vehicles was a major change, although not revolutionary.

Important trends

For the most part, changes in GSE during the next few years will be evolutionary, not revolutionary. …

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