Aircraft ground support equipment or GSE is an essential component of every airport around the world. Yet, it is often overlooked by tourists and visitors to the airport. In fact, even regular fliers often neglect to notice the equipment that drives around on the surface of the tarmac just beyond the windows of the airport or the aircraft. Although they may see them, they fail to recognize their value.
Categories of Aircraft Ground Support Equipment
Aircraft ground support equipment is defined as all the equipment and devices used to service an aircraft when it is on the ground at an airport. They have been described and categorized in different ways. They can be described as powered or non-powered pieces of equipment. An example of the latter is a chock: a piece of equipment composed of hardwood or very hard rubber. It is placed in a manner as to prevent an aircraft from moving when parked. Other non-motorized or not-powered aircraft ground support equipment are:
* Baggage carts
Powered aircraft ground support equipment may include, but are not restricted to the following:
* Re-Fuelers – self-contained trucks that refuel the aircraft while they are on the ground
* Tugs – These are hardworking small or larger pieces of aircraft ground support equipment that push or tow planes to or from the gates, maintenance and the tarmac
* Tractors – these do the same as push-pull or tow tugs. Tractors can also pull other devices like baggage carts to the plane
* Ground Power Units – this is a vehicle that supplies the aircraft with power while they are on the tarmac
* Cargo Loaders – sometimes called container loaders, these types of aircraft ground support equipment are for loading cargo – not baggage, from the ground to the cargo hold and vice versa
Categorizing Aircraft GSE According to Function
As noted above, aircraft ground support equipment is quite diverse. It includes equipment that serves different functions. As a result, some categorize GSE according to its function. It, therefore, fits into one of the three following categories:
1. Aircraft Mobility – This category consists of GSE that pushes, pulls, drives and moves around on the tarmac. In this particular category, you will find both aircraft tugs and tractors.
2. Ground Power Operations – This refers to the power unit supply by either ground or mobile sources in order to ensure the plane is kept in a manner that is required during its stay on the ground
3. Loading Operations – The category is fairly self-explanatory. It includes such GSE as cargo loaders, baggage belts, potable water storage and loaders and steps
Aircraft Ground Support Equipment
GSE includes a variety of vehicles and specialized equipment to service landed aircrafts. They handle such things as loading and unloading, maintenance, and re-fueling. They are common in most airports, come in different sizes and shapes, and perform many essential functions. In fact, you can easily argue that without aircraft ground support equipment, the flight to your favorite vacation spot would never be the same.