Basic Maintenance of Ground Support Equipment

Tronair's Engineering Manager Paul Spinazze gives some pointers for keeping your GSE equipment in optimal working condition January 2004 All photos courtesy of Tronair Poorly maintained and improperly used equipment can have costly...


Tronair's Engineering Manager Paul Spinazze gives some pointers for keeping your GSE
equipment in optimal working condition

January 2004

Photos courtesy of Tronair

Poorly maintained and improperly used equipment can have costly or even disastrous consequences, a good mechanical maintenance program is a priority to ensure safety of personnel and prevent damage to the equipment on the aircraft.

When using any type of GSE equipment, there are basic procedures that are the foundation for any good mechanical maintenance program. These include performing visual inspections; using and maintaining equipment per manufacturer's instructions; and maintaining accurate maintenance records. When followed, these procedures not only promote safety, but save both time and money. This article will discuss the specific application of these fundamental procedures to the use of towbars, tailstands, work stands, jacks, and engine slings/lifts.

bent shear plate from a towbar

Towbar Inspection
Prior to every use of a towbar, it is important to first verify that you are using the correct towbar and head for the type of aircraft that is being moved. Then, a visual inspection of the towbar continues by examining the following areas prior to every use.

  • Inspect the towbar itself. Are there any bolts or pins missing that need to be replaced?
  • Check for any loose bolts. Is the towbar straight and the head securely attached?
  • Are the tires inflated to the proper pressure and do they show any abnormal wear? This is also a good time to grease the axles and bearings.
  • Verify the shear pin is not broken or that the shear pin bushings are not cracked.

This inspection should be performed every time you use the towbar and the results should be recorded in your preventative maintenance log.

Towbar Usage
It is also important to verify that the towbar is sized properly for both the aircraft to be moved and the tug that is going to be doing the moving.

  • Make certain the towbar is securely connected to the aircraft. The towbar should be as close to horizontal as possible.
  • The angle between the tug and the towbar should be roughly 90 degrees. Damage to the towbar can result from pushing the aircraft with the towbar jackknifed to the tug.
  • Moving an aircraft safely requires two people.
  • Correctly size the towing eye for the pintle hook used on the tug.
  • Match pintle hook and towbar eyebolt.

Jack Stabilizing Stands (Tailstands)
When using a tailstand, it is important to have the correct tailstand mate to the aircraft fuselage to prevent damage to the aircraft. Some aircraft manufacturers have weight limits that cannot be exceeded, so specially designed alarming tailstands have been developed to notify mechanics if an overloading situation exists.

Maintenance of tailstands is very basic. The neck should slide smoothly up and down in the stand. The stabilizing pin should be inspected prior to use for unusual wear or bending. If signs of either exist, purchase the recommended replacement pin.

Work Stands
When it comes to the maintenance of work stands, there are procedures that need to be followed prior to every use, as well as procedures that need to be observed on a periodic basis.

Visual Inspection
A visual inspection should be conducted prior to each use of a work stand:

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