Ground support equipment (GSE) plays an integral role in the aviation industry. GSE is used for routine and unscheduled maintenance services and is critical to ensure an aircraft is functioning properly. During GSE maintenance services, a variety of equipment is inspected and repaired in order to assure aircraft operation is running smoothly. If GSE equipment is not properly serviced and maintained, there could be some costly and even tragic consequences. To avoid the chances of these consequences happening, basic procedures and thorough inspections should be done to each piece of equipment during GSE maintenance services. In this guide, you will find a series of questions that should be asked during GSE maintenance and before each use of tow bars, jacks, engine slings, tail stands and work stands. These four pieces of equipment should be inspected during regular GSE maintenance and before each use.
One essential step during GSE maintenance services is towbar inspection. Tow bars should be checked during routine GSE maintenance but also prior to each use to ensure that the tow bar is the correct fit for the type of aircraft being moved. When inspecting the towbar ask the following questions:
- Are there any bolts missing? Are there any pins missing? If the answer to either of these questions is yes, then the missing part needs to be replaced before use of the tow bar.
- Are there any loose bolts? If yes, the bolts must be tightened prior to using the tow bar.
- Can the tow bar attach a head securely? This is a very important question secure head attachment is required in order to properly maneuver the aircraft.
- Is the shear pin in good condition? If a shear pin is broken or shear pin bushings are cracked, they must be replaced before use.
- Are the tiles inflated? This question is imperative in order to properly tow the aircraft. If a heavy load is placed onto a tow bar without properly inflated tires, chances are the aircraft will be forceful towed. Notably, during this visual inspection, the axles and bearings should be greased to ensure smooth movement.
Jacks are key in lifting an aircraft, therefore they are one of the most important parts of GSE maintenance services. There are proper inspections for each type of aircraft jack, but below are some basic questions that should be considered for each during maintenance and inspection before use.
- Can the jack withhold the load weight? It is crucial to ensure that the jack can hold up the weight of the aircraft. If a jack were to collapse during use, life-or-death safety risks for personnel are high. If there is any doubt that the jack can’t hold up the aircraft do not use it. One way to ensure a jack can lift the weight it is to have a proof load test completed during GSE maintenance.
- Does the jack have any severe damage the frame? If the frame has any damage, it must be repaired before using the jack.
- Is the pump functioning properly? Are there any fluid leaks? If a jack displays any sign of fluid leak, do not use it. A jack that has a damaged pump could be dangerous and could cause severe damage to the aircraft.
The functionality of an engine sling is indispensable. If an engine sling does not operate properly or is damaged, major safety issues could arise, along with major costs revolving around damage of an engine. Questions to ask during maintenance and inspection include:
- Are there any missing part? If a sling is missing pins, fasteners, or labels, they need to be replaced immediately before use.
- Is the material of the sling have an abnormal wear or deformation? If the sling material is starting to look crumby, it should be replaced to ensure it is durable enough to hold an engine load.
- Are any bolts loose? Bolts must be tightened to ensure the sling is capable of carrying the load.
- Are the straps in good condition? If it looks like the straps have excessive wear, they should be replaced before use of the sling.
Another step during GSE maintenance services is tail stand, also known as a jack stabilizing stand, inspection. Tail stands should be undergo GSE maintenance frequently, but should also be checked prior to usage to ensure they are the correct match to the aircraft. If they do not match, damage to the aircraft is possible. Questions to ask during maintenance and before using a tail stand include:
- Is the stabilizing pin bent? Does it have any abnormal wear such as rust? If the answer is yes to any of these questions, then the pin needs to be replaced.
- If the tail stand alarm functioning properly? This is important to inspect because the alarm notifies the personnel if the stand is being overload. If overload occurs, an aircraft could tip onto its tail, causing damage to the aircraft.
- Is the neck of the tail stand sliding smoothly? If the tail stand is creating friction upon set up, it is in best interest to replace the tail stand to ensure the stand will not slide after attaching it to the aircraft.
Work stands are fundamental during GSE maintenance services. Work stands provide safe access to an aircraft, therefore proper functionality of this equipment is crucial. A visual inspection of a work stand should be completed before every use to ensure it is safe for personnel to climb on and use. The following questions should be asked during GSE maintenance and inspection to confirm the word stand is safe to use.
- Are there casters, handles, handrails, safety chains and lock pins? A work stand should include all of these components. If any are missing, they must be replaced before use.
- Is the frame free of damage? When inspecting the frame, support tubes, base supports and check welds should all be examined. If the frame has damage, the work stand should not be used. If work stand with a damaged frame is used, there is a high risk of safety issues that could severely harm personnel.
- Are the safety stops working? This is a vital component. If this is not functioning properly, the work stand must be repaired before use
- Are you familiar with the load weight? It’s important to be aware of how much the work stand can hold to ensure that the maximum weight is not exceeded. Weight loads can be tested during regular GSE maintenance.
- Are there any leaks in the hydraulic components? If so, the leak must be fixed before the stand can be used. Using a work stand with a hydraulic leak is dangerous.
During GSE maintenance services, work stands should also have a routine check of hydraulic fluid levels, lubrication of casters and hinges, and work stand range of motion.
By asking these questions during GSE maintenance services and before each use of the listed equipment above, safety and proper functionality can be guaranteed. Regular GSE maintenance should be performed, therefore when it comes time to use the equipment, chances of there being an error are slim and operations can run smoothly and quickly. By paying attention to small details, overall safety risks degrade, along with possible expenses from damaged aircrafts. When you spend money to maintenance equipment frequently, you save money in the long run.