Aircraft tow tractor are a very important part of the ground support equipment that services the smallest to largest airport facilities. They are specifically designed to fulfill their purposes but are often not given the credit they deserve.
What Does an Aircraft Tow Tractor Do?
As the name indicates, an aircraft tow tractor does that – tows airplanes. To be precise, they do not technically tow an aircraft; they push it back. This is why they are often referred to as pushbacks. While an aircraft tow tractor may tow an airplane to its hangar or take one to maintenance, it is used to actually push an airplane away from its gate to prepare it for departure. Depending on several factors, including the size of the aircraft, the business of the airport and the weather, a tow tractor may be required to push the aircraft some distance away from the gate.
Types of Aircraft Tow Tractors
Aircraft tow tractors are either electric or internal combustion.
* Electric Aircraft Tow Tractor: This type of aircraft tow tractor is slower than most. Typically they do not exceed 20 mph. They are less expensive than the tow tractors that utilize gas or other fossil fuels. They can also be used indoors, when combustion tow tractors cannot. While best on smooth operating surfaces, they are preferred by some facilities because they are less expensive to run.
There are three different classifications of electric tow tractors, which are:
o Walkie: With this type of aircraft tow tractor, the operator must walk either alongside or in front of the tractor. The operator controls this light vehicle through the use of an extended handlebar-like system. These are inexpensive to purchase but are more risky to the operators to use.
o Walkie Rider: This type of electric aircraft tow tractor is a variation on the walkie. It includes a platform. The speeds obtained by this version are faster; the loads of increased capacity and the capabilities higher
o Sit-Down Rider: As the name indicates, this type of electric tow tractor allows the operator to actually sit down on the machine he or she is operating. Of all the electric aircraft tow tractors this is the most powerful. It can also move along at faster clips. However, like the Walkie rider, its size almost means it requires more space for turning.
* Internal Combustion Tow Tractor: Some tow tractors are powered by the combustion engine. They run on diesel fuel, gasoline or even propane gas. They are usually bigger and more powerful than their electric counterparts. The fumes they expel also means they should never be used for inside work.
The Mighty Aircraft Tow Tractor
Aircraft towing tractors are not often noticed by the passengers on a plane. They are rather insignificant in appearance, yet they have been designed to tow anything from the smallest light plane to the largest aircraft on the market. Although small, the aircraft tow tractor is truly mighty in capability.
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