7 Tips For Better Airplane Tug Traction In Winter Conditions
Winter can create many challenges for the aviation industry – in particular, dangerously icy ground conditions. While it’s best to keep ramps clear of snow and ice, we all know this isn’t always possible. The following are some tips for maintaining good airplane tug traction in winter conditions. Note that this list is not exhaustive and for more specific instructions, you should consult your manual or reach out to the manufacturer.
1. Keep Airplane Tugs Outside
Yes, this is actually true. When an airplane tug is kept in a heated hangar and then transferred outside onto the icy concrete, the heated tires will actually melt the coat of ice on the ground. This can cause the airplane tug to lose grip and begin to slip. The tug can then get out of control during the towing process. The key to avoiding this situation? Keep your aircraft tug outside or in an unheated hangar to allow it to adapt to the outside temperature.
2. Inspect Both the Aircraft and Towing Equipment
Prior to using your aircraft tug to transport an airplane, you need to inspect both thoroughly. This includes checking for any potential damage and making sure oil levels are adequate. You should have general safety procedures in place and if not, a checklist should be created.
3. Decrease The PSI
The tire pressure should also be inspected prior to using an aircraft tractor. Keep in mind that the tire pressure will naturally be a little too low due to the cold and sometimes freezing temperatures. In particularly chilly temperatures, you should temporarily reduce the air pressure in pneumatic tires from 60 PSI to as low as 25 PSI. Once the weather emergency has ended, restore the air pressure to 60 PSI.
4. Keep The Towbar Level
To avoid slippage or a potentially expensive and terrible accident, it’s best to keep your towbar level. When using a 2-wheel drive (2WD) or rear drive aircraft tractor, make sure the towbar is level or slightly downhill toward the aircraft being towed. If using an all-wheel drive (AWD) tractor, the towbar should be level or slightly downhill toward the tractor.
5. Maintain A Smooth Pushback
When using an AWD aircraft tractor, a wheel may lose traction. Don’t panic. To stop the wheel of the pushback tug from spinning, simply apply the brake gradually with your left foot until the wheel spin comes to a stop and holds. When pushing an aircraft backwards, coordinate the left foot brake pressure and the right foot accelerator in order to retain a smooth pushback.
6. Don’t Jerk Forward
When starting to transport an aircraft using an airplane tug, be careful to not jerk forward. Press the accelerator gradually. In wintery conditions, cautiousness is key.
7. Have Your Airplane Tug’s Tires Siped
When ice or snow is present, snow tires can only do so much. In fact, on dry or icy pavement, you will actually lose traction. This is why you should consider having your tires siped. This process involves having tiny cuts made across the tread of your tires, increasing the gripping edges while maintaining their footprints. This method offers excellent traction on slippery surfaces and increases your tires’ overall lifespan.
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