Schools Training

A Closer Look at Ground Support Equipment

29 JUN 2012
Career Path : Miscellaneous

We have all been to the airport, and whether or not we have all been on a plane we have all surely, at some point, suffered through the delays that inevitably happen when we put ourselves at the mercy of the airlines.

It is easy to forget that the whole flying experience is much more than a simple three-step boarding, flying, landing process. In fact, the flying experience is embedded with an entire world that, although given very little regard, makes the air travel possible. That world lies in ground support. Aircraft ground-support is an underexposed professional realm, and involves a lot of trained specialists in various domains.

To get a better look at the ground support world, let`s look at the various tools, vehicles and expertise they employ to ensure that air travel runs properly and as smooth as can be.


Air Start Units

Air starters are used to help start the engine of an aircraft by releasing the required amount of air.  Air starter units are equipped with internal combustion engines. The air starter is connected to the aircraft by way of a hose. Ultimately, without air starters, planes would not get enough of a combustion boost to start, meaning all of wouldn`t be flying anywhere anytime soon.


Belt Loaders

Thankfully for the backs of ground support workers, each piece of baggage or cargo is put onto and off of an aircraft through the smooth tracks of a belt loader. A belt loader is a vehicle that is equipped with one or several moveable belts. The vehicle is positioned under the aircraft door, and the belt is raised in a diagonal position in such a way that baggage and cargo and be placed onto it from the ground and the belt rolls it up to the aircraft.


Catering Trucks

Although we all have a few airline food wisecracks up our sleeve, there is actually a lofty process of preparing and loading the food onto the aircraft. Most of the food is prepared on ground in order to relieve airline employees of any additional food-related tasks aside from cooling, heating and carting food to and from the passengers. Once the food is prepared at a nearby facility, a catering truck will transport the food from the facility to the aircraft. True to ground support equipment structures, catering trucks are equipped with platforms that can be moved and lifted in order to level itself perfectly with the door of the aircraft.


If you live in a country that gets the harsh brush of winter for a few months out of the year, then Deicers are likely your best friend. In the pit of winter the weather can get really cold, and the body of the aircraft can accumulate enough ice that it will prevent it from flying. For this reason, ground support will take both precautionary and reactionary action in order to free an aircraft from ice`s brutal grip. Deicers are equipped with boom lifts and hoses, allowing the deicer operator to easily move around the entire aircraft while spraying it with melting and anti-freeze liquids.

Stay tuned for another article that runs through other types of ground support equipment.


Visit GTA Aviation Ground Equipment Specialties for more information on new and used airline equipment.