When your plane arrives at its destination and slowly moves towards the terminal, you may have noticed several different pieces of equipment waiting to service the plane. Tow tractors, cranes, dollies, and ground support personnel busying about, waiting to perform crucial maintenance on the plane you just exited. This ground support is the lifeline for successful flights.
Aircraft ground support equipment refers to the various tools and devices used to service aircrafts that aren’t in flight. The process requires a fleet of operators to adhere to precise handling rules, so machinery works as intended. There are different variations of non-powered equipment such as dollies, chocks, tripod jacks, and rollers. On the contrary, there are different types of powered equipment as well, such as refuelers, tugs and tractors, ground power units, container loaders, and buses.
The equipment required to service aircraft systems include power generators, cabin pressure test units, fluid servicing units, munitions loading system, and electrical testers. All of which are designed to be self-propelled, trailer mounted, or towed for ease of access and maneuverability.
Ground support equipment can define the success of an entire aviation establishment, whether it be an airport or military air base. The complete servicing process must coincide firmly within industry standards while operating at a minimum life-cycle cost.
Not everything you find at a commercial airport will be found at a military airfield, which is simply due to military aircraft being equipped with items which have no translatable purpose or use in the civilian market. The most common type of ground service equipment found in a military airfield is a hydraulic loader, used to load pieces of ordinance (bullets, bombs, missiles). Dedicated military service equipment must be utterly reliable and dependable, simple to use, and quick to learn.
Ground service equipment plays an integral role in the maintenance, specialized technical support, and operational safety in aircrafts.