The Common Types of Aircraft Tugs


While aircraft are technically capable of transporting themselves across airports in order to go to and from gates, runways, and hangers, such procedures can often prove hazardous or wasteful as compared to other options. Generally, aircraft tugs and towbars are the most common equipment for safely moving aircraft on the ground, and they can range from simple hand held equipment pieces to remote controlled vehicles. As various aircraft tug types present different methods and capabilities for aircraft transportation, it can be useful to familiarize yourself with the most common types used.

When transporting simple general aviation aircraft that are lightweight, a manually operated tow bar may be all one needs for efficient and safe movement. While some aircraft may be moved by hand, a tow bar can ensure that less strain is placed on the mover for their benefit. As aluminum equipment pieces, the tow bar may be secured to either the nose wheel or tail wheel of the aircraft and then pulled by a handle. Due to the small size and weight of such equipment, tow bars are often able to be stored on the aircraft during flight in the case that the landing destination is different from the take off location.

While the manually operated tow bar can be sufficient for light aircraft, more power is needed when transporting larger and heavier models. In such instances, engine powered vehicles and tugs may be used. As larger aircraft can weigh upwards of 175,000 pounds, having a massive tractor with a tow bar is critical for being able to move such a heavy vehicle. When utilizing such options for moving an aircraft, it is important to note that various aircraft models may need specific tow bars in order to facilitate optimal connections to the tail wheel or landing gear.

While the tow bar long served numerous aircraft, many have since moved onto the engine powered towbarless tug as an alternative. With such vehicles and equipment, the wheel of the aircraft under the cockpit can be lifted upwards with hydraulics and secured to the top of the tug. With this method of transporting aircraft, one tug may accommodate numerous aircraft types rather than being constricted for select models or requiring an adapter. While towbarless tugs clearly have their advantages, they can sometimes require more personnel for their operation and may have other included costs.

Electric tugs that are towbarless and remote controlled have seen many advancements in recent years since their debut, and they provide various economic and ecological benefits that can make them advantageous. With such equipment, operations are similar to the towbarless tug as the aircraft is lifted hydraulically and placed on equipment. Despite this, there are fewer hazards involved as the vehicle is remote controlled rather than driven by an individual. Furthermore, the electric powering of such vehicles reduces both the costs and pollution associated with gas. Due to the small size of such electric tugs, more flexibility and mobility may be achieved for the benefit of operations, workers, and the airport.

In order to ensure that your aircraft is properly transported between a hanger, runway, or airport gate, you should always utilize the most reliable tow bar and tug equipment. NSN Supplies is a premier distributor of aircraft parts, and we can help you secure competitive pricing on ground support equipment, aviation components, and other supplies that you need to efficiently carry out your operations. With industry experts readily available for customers 24/7x365, customers can quickly receive personalized quotes for their comparison. Get started on the purchasing process today and experience why customers choose to rely on NSN Supplies for all their aviation needs.


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