REMOTELY CONTROLLED AIRCRAFT TUGS: THE FUTURE OF GROUND HANDLING

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HOW IS A REMOTELY CONTROLLED TUG A BETTER OPTION THAN A TRADITIONAL MANNED UNIT?

The prevalence of diesel tugs still remaining the mainstay of airline and airport operations is attributable to the lack of any radical improvements in recent memory. It seems akin to reinventing the wheel; why bother investing in changing something simple which has worked relatively well for decades? Complacency has allowed operators in the industry to accept mediocrity when technology provides a much better solution.

Remotely controlled aircraft tugs are an enormous improvement in terms of efficiency, productivity, environmental improvement, and manpower. They win in all conceivable metrics. As mentioned previously, manned tugs are not intuitive, nor are they user friendly. For one thing, they are not particularly safe to other members of the team. More than just a few individuals have lost digits on their hands while closing the pintle hitch around the tow bar. Visibility in traditional tugs is very limited, whereas remote tugs have unlimited visibility.

NOT ONLY REMOTELY CONTROLLED BUT ALSO TOWBARLESS

Traditional pushback tractors attach to a tow bar which then attaches to the aircraft nose landing gear, making two pivot points in the towing process, which is unlike any other towing task in the world which essentially means that no previous experiences driving trucks, heavy machinery, or agricultural equipment will translate to the task at all. There are no tangible safety features built into a traditional aircraft tug other than the attentiveness of the operator and crew. Members must physically attach the tow bar to the aircraft and the tow bar to the tractor which exposes them to numerous pinch points and crushing hazards.

By stark contrast, a remotely controlled tug never directly exposes the operator to precarious positions between the machine and the aircraft. Instead, he is allowed to maintain a very safe distance and observe as the aircraft nose tires are captured by the tug. He is never anywhere in harm's way during the process. Because the remote tugs have a very low profile, he can safely observe every critical movement of the operation with ease and transparency. The remote tug is battery operated which makes it virtually silent to operate. Diesel tugs on the other hand are extremely loud in an environment which suffers from noise pollution to begin with. While ground operators will never be able to eliminate all sounds, they can certainly mitigate those which are practical.

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