Inevitably, most smaller airports and personal operations turn to used ground support equipment to find a more affordable solution for keeping their planes in the sky. The only question is: Can used GSE stand up to the task, or will the purchase be more risk than reward? Keep reading to learn more.
The Price Difference Between New & Used Aircraft Tugs
One of the more apparent benefits of buying used aircraft tugs and other GSE is the reduced cost. If you spring for a brand-new fleet of aircraft tugs, you'll be paying the premium for them. If your operation is still small, those prices can sometimes eat into your budget and could potentially limit short-term growth.
Used GSE Costs Less
However, used GSE is often available at a significantly reduced price and can save airports thousands of dollars per purchase. The money saved from purchasing used GSE can go toward operations, staffing, training and other equipment. Some organizations are wary of used GSE, but shying away can cost them a great opportunity for savings. Used aircraft tugs, tractors and other GSE can mean the difference between getting off the ground or staying put for new facilities or operations running on a limited budget.
What Quality to Expect From New & Used GSE
In the case of new vs. used GSE, new pushback tractors, ground power units and baggage tractors tend to be synonymous with higher quality. When working with brand-new equipment, airports can trust that the manufacturers will provide equipment in perfect working condition. Buying new can help get operations up and running the second aircraft tugs are on the flightline.
While the quality of used aircraft tugs can't compare to brand-new equipment, it's generally always in excellent condition. However, maintenance and inspection times may be more of a concern. Ground personnel can expect to spend more time inspecting and tuning their aircraft towing equipment, which can cause some delays for teams and airports.
What to Keep In Mind About GSE Warranties
Regarding manufacturer warranties, both new and used GSE have pros and cons. It's more or less up to the airport or airline to decide which would work best for them.
GSE Warranties for New Aircraft Tugs
New ground support equipment usually doesn't require many repairs because it's already in excellent working condition once it arrives. However, if something were to go wrong earlier than expected, most airplane tugs and other GSE include a full or limited warranty. While the risk of a breakdown is low for new GSE, the manufacturer will more than likely cover the parts and labor for the repairs if a defect is found.
GSE Warranties for Used Aircraft Tugs
Warranties are more of a concern when considering used GSE. More often than not, used ground support equipment will not come with any type of warranty, so airports and maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facilities will need to set aside a portion of their budget to address any repairs that the used equipment may require. If repairs are frequently needed, they can cause costly delays and increase the demand for ground personnel teams. If a full breakdown happens, airports will have to pay for the repairs or replace the unit entirely. While used GSE comes at an attractive price up front, it also comes with significant risks and potential hidden costs down the line. But with proper maintenance, care and luck, ground personnel can still get the most out of their used aircraft tugs and GSE.
Understanding New vs. Used GSE Lead Times
As with all products that run through a supply chain, many airports factor in lead times when deciding between new and used aircraft ground support equipment.
Lead Times for New Aircraft Tugs
With new aircraft ground support equipment, lead times can vary wildly. Sometimes, lead time is incredibly minimal and can only be a few weeks of waiting. However, when the demand is high, or materials are scarce, lead times for new aircraft tractors, maintenance stands and other GSE can be as long as several months. Being forced to wait that long can significantly affect a business, so airports need to consider this before making a new purchase.
Lead Times for Used Aircraft Tugs
On the other hand, lead times are nonexistent when purchasing used GSE. Because used aircraft ground support equipment is already manufactured and up for sale, it's ready to be packaged and shipped out as soon as possible. This allows airports to make a larger investment upfront to get operations started in the short term. But it's also critical to keep in mind that when purchasing used GSE, airports are often limited to the aircraft tractors and tugs available from suppliers and manufacturers at the time of purchase. This can sometimes make it challenging to look for specific types of used GSE to support aircraft operations, especially when the demand is high.
When to Consider Buying New vs. Used GSE
Aircraft ground support equipment is purposefully designed to last for years in even the most brutal conditions, so whether airports purchase new or used GSE, they're getting a reliable piece of equipment. But ultimately, deciding whether or not to go with new or used equipment comes down to the factors listed above.
If you're in charge of a minor operation, used equipment might be the way to go. Used GSE comes with the benefits of cost savings and nonexistent lead times, giving ground personnel the power to get their equipment quick and cheap to start operations immediately for great short-term results. If you're in charge of a more prominent airport that can afford the higher costs of new GSE, it may be more beneficial to eat the upfront costs for useful long-term results. New equipment will last longer, require less maintenance and is covered under manufacturer warranties if defects are found.