Getting an aircraft into the air requires a lot of equipment and much of it is actually on the ground. This ground support equipment is supplied by specialist companies like Red Box Aviation and it is crucial in getting an aircraft moved into position and powered up ready for taking to the skies. But what exactly is the sort of ground support equipment that's needed? Firstly, let's think about how an aircraft must be moved into and out of its parking slot. This operation requires a degree of precision and control of something that could weigh from several thousand kilograms up to a hundred tonnes or more. It therefore needs a specialist piece of aircraft moving equipment which is known as an aircraft tug. These can range from small hand operated pieces of equipment that give powered assistance and that can move aircraft up to around 5 tonnes to larger all-wheel drive vehicles that can move large passenger aircraft around with relative ease.
Now, moving an aircraft around is one thing, but providing the power to enable it to start its engines is a very different task again. Aircraft generally require a ground power unit to supply them with power in the correct voltage in order to get their engines started. The precise requirements for this power vary from one aircraft to another. For some small aircraft 12V power is needed whilst many others require 24V or even 28V power units. As well as supplying power to start the aircraft some units are also designed to provide a continuous source of power whilst the plane is on the ground. These power units enable the on-board systems to run from the power supplied by the ground power unit. Add to this some of theother specialist types of ground power equipment like charge management systems etc. and you will begin to realise how complex the issue of powering an aircraft can be.
As well as moving and powering an aircraft there are of course other tasks that are vital to keep it maintained and flying. Specialist tools are used to test, measure and maintain an aircraft's systems in perfect working order. So, next time you take a flight on an aircraft you'll be a little bit more aware of some of the very specialist equipment that is being used behind the scenes to help make sure everything works just as it should.