Ground Support Equipment (GSE) is an aviation industry term that refers to support equipment typically found at an airport that is used to service the aircraft between flights. These equipment are generally kept on the ramp near the terminal so that they can be accessed quickly when needed. The main purpose of GSE is to support safe operations at the airport between the time the aircraft lands and takes off again.
To follow the flight operation plans and minimize flight delays GSE is extremely important for any airport. Uninterrupted movement of aircraft at an airport is one of the most complex tasks for all entities involved with ground operations at an airport. Ground handling of aircraft is one of the most significant reasons for delays in flight operations. A high-efficiency airport is fully equipped with the required GSEs for the type of aircraft it is certified to handle.
Several factors impact downtime at the airport, but proper GSEs play an important role in mitigating these issues. To run an efficient airport and avoid downtime, at a minimum the airport must:
- Keep the GSE fleet up to date in perfect working order.
- Make sure that equipment operators are working in a safe environment.
- Ensure the periodic maintenance of the GSE
- Manage and accurately balance the use of all the resources.
Ground handling support is essentially required by all aircraft from a small recreational plane to a large passenger aircraft between the time it arrives at the airport and the time it flies to its next destination. All the work has to be done with speed, efficiency, and accuracy by the ground handling services to minimize the turnaround time of the aircraft. GSEs comprise a wide variety of equipment and vehicles to service aircraft during aircraft turnaround.
These activities include passenger and cargo loading and unloading, food and beverage catering, potable water loading, wastewater drainage, aircraft refueling, engine and fuselage service, and maintenance. Many large aircraft also need electrical power and ventilation units while they are waiting at the terminal for passenger/crew comfort and aircraft safety. Such services are also provided by the airport through GSEs.
Most of the GSEs are required to work on the airside of the airport to service the aircraft during the turnaround process. Several tasks are performed using GSE including, but not necessarily limited to, the following:
- Aircraft maintenance carts and trucks for the engine, fuselage, and cabin servicing and maintenance.
- Cleaning and Water trucks for waste-water and garbage removal and provision of potable and toilet water.
- Tugs for moving aircraft out of a gate, to/from maintenance areas.
- Aircraft refueling trucks for refueling the aircraft.
- Airfield maintenance carts these include grass mowers, pesticide sprayers, painting carts, lighting maintenance.
- De-icing and snow removal vehicles for aircraft de-icing, snow removal from apron and runways.
- Emergency response vehicles for rescue and firefighting, security.
- Moving payloads vehicles for loading, unloading, and transporting of passengers, cargo, etc.
- Restocking of provisions vans for loading food and beverages
- Power and HVAC vans to electrical power and ventilation for parked aircraft.
Various Types of GSEs
The requirement of various types of GSEs varies depending on the type of aircraft. Small propeller aircraft requires only a few pieces of equipment to support them. Whereas a large passenger jet requires a very complex array of support equipment while it is on the ground awaiting another flight. There is a lot of common equipment that is necessary for an airport to have irrespective of the size and type of aircraft it is ready to provide service.
GSE required for Small Aircraft
- Dollies: Platforms on wheels are used to hold and transport heavy, cumbersome objects. There are several different types of dollies in GSE.
- Chocks: Aircraft chocks are used to immobilize the aircraft while it is parked. These are wooden or rubber blocks that are placed in front and back of the wheels of the landing gear.
- Aircraft Tripod Jacks: Aircraft jacks are used to support an aircraft while on the ground. Some aircraft due to shifting of a load of passengers and cargo during gate operations may become tail heavy, these jacks provide support so that the aircraft may not destabilize.
- Refuelers: Aircraft refuelers can be either self-contained vehicles or mobile carts. Smaller carts are often used with a pump system that connects to underground tanks.
- Harnesses: Various types of harnesses are used to secure the aircraft from moving due to high wind or seismic activity when parked at the airport.
GSE required for Medium-sized Aircraft (including those for small aircraft)
- Dollies For Loose Baggage: Baggage that is not in containers is transported to and from aircraft in loose bag dollies.
- Belt Loaders: A belt loader is a type of vehicle with a conveyor belt design for easy unloading and loading of cargo and baggage onto an airplane.
- Pushback Tugs: These are a specialized type of towing vehicle designed to push aircraft away from the gate. There are various sizes of tugs used depending on the size and weight of the aircraft.
- Air Start Unit: Air start units are carts used to start an airplane’s engines if APU is malfunctioning.
- De-Icing Vehicles: In winter where there are low temperatures and snow, these vehicles are used to spray water and a special mixture to remove ice from the wings and fuselage of the aircraft.
GSE required for large passenger jets (including those for small and medium aircraft)
- Container Loader: These are used to unload and load pallets on and off of an aircraft. They have two platforms that can be raised and lowered independently of one another. Built-in wheels or rollers make these units mobile.
- Tugs And Tractors: Tugs and tractors are one of the most essential aspects of ground support equipment. They move aircraft, variours types of carts, vans, and dollies.
- Ground Power Units: These are vans and carts which provide electrical power to the parked aircraft.
- Buses: Buses are used to transport people from the terminal to other terminals or aircraft. These specialized airport buses are more likely to have low floors and wide doors for efficient passenger transportation.
- Potable Water Trucks: These trucks deliver safe drinking water to an aircraft These trucks utilize a pump to push the water from the truck to the airplane.
- Lavatory Service Vehicles: These vehicles are used to quickly empty and refill wastewater from aircraft lavatories.
- Catering Vehicle: They are used to facilitate the unloading and reloading of food and beverages for passengers and crew.
- Passenger Boarding, Steps, Stairs: For large aircraft, these mobile staircases allow passengers and crew to enter or exit an aircraft.
Ground Support Equipment is vital to both safety and productivity at the airport. Failure to properly inspect and maintain equipment can not only lead to flight delays but may also damage aircraft and can put the life and well-being of personnel at risk. Any airport must a minimum complement of GSE for the type of aircraft it is certified to service.
e2b calibration can maintain and service all types of ground service equipment to the highest industry standards while being reliable and cost-effective. Our verifiable services are unmatched in the industry. We are registered with ANAB. We are also ANSI/NCSL Z540-1-1994 certified. We have the NIST Traceable Wide scope of ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation. Contact e2b calibration for more information about our on-site services.
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