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a new/different kind of tug .. NOT that kind, the plane kind

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bigjobs

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Hi all,

i was sitting in a DeathStar 717 at BNE this afternoon and was looking out my window at a Virgin 737 that was being pushed back. what i noticed intrigued me and i thought that perhaps someone might have some information.

as the virgin 737 was being pushed back i noticed that the tug was located under the main landing gear rather than the nose wheel. This 'tug' then moved out from underneath the jet and moved away to the rear. it then stayed there until the jet moved off to the taxi way, and so i suspected it might be radio controlled. the 'tug' then moved forward after the jet left stopped and then ground crew came and sat on it and drove it away confirming my suspicion that it was a radio controlled piece of gear.

it did not look like the traditional kind of tug that is most commonly used by most airlines.

anyway, i had never seen one of these before and wondered if anyone can tell me more about them, if they are new/old, how they work and all that.

Thanks in advance for your help.
 

meloz

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You may find your 717 was pushed back in the same manner.

Yes, they are radio controlled. Just don't mix up the controls like JQ ground staff did once whilst PAX were disembarking via steps. The button pusher thought the unit must have had flat batteries as the aircraft was not moving. Little did he know he had picked up the controls for the other aircraft over his left shoulder. Luckily the pilots realised they were not in Kansas anymore and applied the brakes. Addittionally lucky they were able to react quickly as aircraft have a habit of doing a wheelie when brakes are applied when in reverse if the speed is sufficent enough (and it does not take much, pilots normally always have their heals on the floor for pushback). It could have been much worse than the resulting damaged door if a PAX had taken a tumble to the tarmac.

These style of tugs need to be steered from the cockpit via nose wheel with verbal direction from the ground handler.

Meloz
 

Groundfeeder

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If you're lucky enough to be in Cairns, you might see the Crash-8's reversing themselves out of the gate.
 

NM

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Groundfeeder said:
If you're lucky enough to be in Cairns, you might see the Crash-8's reversing themselves out of the gate.
MD80s regularly do that in some USA ports. I have watched AA MD80s do this at IDA on many occasions. All depends on the airport regs and openness of the tarmac area. Does not happen at DFW or LAX.
 

bigjobs

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i have been onboard a twin otter that was using skis instead of wheels - it was landing on snow on a frozen lake - and the pilot reversed parked the plane in between two other twin otters in the same way that we park our cars.

the blades on the props were able to turn all the way around and pull the plane in the reverse direction.

they really are a tremendous little plane the twin otter!
 

Groundfeeder

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I believe the MD80's & 717's are able to reverse out due to the height and aft location of motors.

Keeps the ground crap blown up by the reversers well out of the way of possible ingestion. Also rear-engined aircraft CG favours reversing without the problem of doing wheelstands if the brakes are hit too hard when reversing.
 

straitman

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NM said:
Groundfeeder said:
If you're lucky enough to be in Cairns, you might see the Crash-8's reversing themselves out of the gate.
MD80s regularly do that in some USA ports. I have watched AA MD80s do this at IDA on many occasions. All depends on the airport regs and openness of the tarmac area. Does not happen at DFW or LAX.
Saw MD80's at DFW all backing last year (Feb) however not at all this year.
 

meloz

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Groundfeeder said:
I believe the MD80's & 717's are able to reverse out due to the height and aft location of motors.

Keeps the ground crap blown up by the reversers well out of the way of possible ingestion. Also rear-engined aircraft CG favours reversing without the problem of doing wheelstands if the brakes are hit too hard when reversing.
Higher engines will definitely reduce the risk of FOD ingestion.

Rear engine aircraft generally always have a CG aft (relevant to the proportion of the length of the aircraft) to those that have power plants on the wings (this is why their wings are further aft than wing powered AC). The governing factor in susceptibility of wheelies is the location of the CG and its proximity to the location of the main gear. Think leverage.

i.e. the percentage of mass forward of the CG versus mass aft. Multiplied by velocity squared.

All aircraft are susceptible, from C152 to B747.

Just keep your heels on the floor and use thrust for braking and there is no problem.

Meloz
 

tuapekastar

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Groundfeeder said:
If you're lucky enough to be in Cairns, you might see the Crash-8's reversing themselves out of the gate.
I'd be much happier if they waited until the pilots boarded! :D
 

NM

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straitman said:
Saw MD80's at DFW all backing last year (Feb) however not at all this year.
Probably depends on the gates. Some are pretty tightly packed in and the jet wash would cause problems for ground staff and FOD. Some gates at DFW are fairly open so that is probably where you observed them doing it.
 

Groundfeeder

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I'd be much happier if they waited until the pilots boarded!
Crash-8's have pilots??? I wondered who was up front when the drinks were served! No wonder I'm impressed by their crew/pax ratio.
 

serfty

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Re: a new/different kind of tug .. NOT that kind, the plane

bigjobs said:
... as the virgin 737 was being pushed back i noticed that the tug was located under the main landing gear rather than the nose wheel. This 'tug' then moved out from underneath the jet and moved away to the rear. it then stayed there until the jet moved off to the taxi way, and so i suspected it might be radio controlled. the 'tug' then moved forward after the jet left stopped and then ground crew came and sat on it and drove it away confirming my suspicion that it was a radio controlled piece of gear.
First saw one of these from AKL domestic QP; Air NZ were using them.

Also watched the process yesterday from SYD T2 QP;

-Red VB tug was positioned then 'fenced off'.
-PAX boarded using air bridge and tarmac.
-Stairs, airbridge and fence removed.
-Aircraft moved back and around by tug
-Aircraft moved forward by tug. (As this was happening I noticed the aircraft engines were firing up).
-Tug stopped and released, the aircraft continued on.

The rest is as descibed by bigjobs.

This must save a good minute or two in getting the aircraft away.
 
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