7 Critical Winter Traction Tips for Airplane Tugs

Reviewing 7 winter traction tips for airplane tugs operating in snow & ice

Winter can create many challenges for the aviation industry – in particular, dangerously icy ground conditions for airplane tugs and associated aircraft. While it’s best to keep ramps clear of snow and ice, we all know this isn’t always possible. That’s why our experts are here to share our 7 most critical winter traction tips for airplane tugs.

Trusted Aircraft Tug Traction Tips for Winter

Whether you’re moving aircraft through ice or snow, the following tips will help you maintain optimal airplane tug traction in challenging winter conditions. Please note that this list of airplane tug traction recommendations is not exhaustive. For more specific instructions, we recommend consulting your manual or reaching out to the manufacturer.

1. During Winter, 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 is to keep your aircraft tug outside or in an unheated hangar, which helps your tug adapt to the cold outside temperature and achieve predictable airplane tug traction.

2. Thoroughly Inspect Your Aircraft & Towing Equipment

Prior to using your aircraft tug to transport an airplane, you need to inspect both thoroughly. This is always a crucial process but even more so during the winter months. This inspection includes checking for any potential damage and making sure oil levels are adequate. You should also have general safety procedures in place, and if not, a safety checklist should be created.

3. Decrease the PSI on Your Airplane Tug Tires

The tire pressure should also be inspected prior to using an aircraft tractor. Keep in mind that the tire pressure of your airplane tug 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. Always 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 tug, 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 Process

When using an AWD aircraft tug, 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 backward, coordinate the left foot brake pressure and the right foot accelerator in order to retain a smooth pushback.

6. Don’t Jerk Your Airplane Tug Forward

In wintery conditions, being cautious with your airplane tug maneuvering is imperative to safety. When starting to transport an aircraft using an airplane tug, be careful not to jerk forward. Press the accelerator gradually, and remain patient if the acceleration response isn’t as swift due to tarmac conditions.

7. Have Your Tug 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 tug 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.

Find the Perfect Aircraft Tug for Winter—And Every Season In Between

Whether it’s for winter or any other season, choosing a reliable airplane tug is not something you should do on your own. Allow our Eagle Tugs team to help simplify your search. Ask our experts about trusted airplane tugs available through Eagle Tugs and request your quote today.


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