‘Tis the Season

Cover Story ‘Tis the Season Winter is not far off and the GSE Maintenance Technicians at United Airlines' O'Hare facility in Chicago are busy with prepping UAL's fleet of deicing equipment while moving into a brand-new GSE maintenance facility...


The rear station control panel involves the inspection of all lights, gauges, and communication system. Wiring, electrical connections, and Amp plugs are checked for corrosion and chafing. Any emergency shut-offs are also checked for proper functionability.

A boom structure and operational inspection is completed to include an integrity check of bolts, locks, and gears, boom movements and reach, as well as emergency lowering systems, emergency hydraulic pump operation, and the safety of guardrails and ladders.

Computer Diagnostics
Dave Madson, Technical Support Specialist with Vestergaard Co. Inc. in McHenry, Illinois, explains that the deicers that have been produced since about 1997 have an onboard computer system called a PLC (Program Logic Controller). This unit has grown in sophistication over the past years and now handles complete control of the deicer functions, which allows for greater flexibility and options to be offered to meet a specific customers requirements. Updates can be done to fine-tune the deicer's operation or an added function can be added without a lot of modification to the unit.

One of the big advantages of using the PLC is that it allows the user to plug in a diagnostic box (Breakout box) and interrogate the computer for troubleshooting faults as well as making routine adjustments. The computer will give the technician a diagnostic code that narrows down a fault and facilitates a timely repair. The technician can refer to a troubleshooting fault list that will guide him or her towards the right diagnostic flow chart. In the event of a really troublesome problem, a laptop computer can be directly plugged into the computer on the truck and a field technician can monitor in real-time what the software program is doing. This is a very useful tool when diagnosing an intermittent problem.

This technology has been widely used in the automotive industry for the past 20 years and is now gaining wide acceptance in the area of GSE equipment. In the last 5 years, this technology has grown in use in the GSE industry.

Temperatures will be dropping soon and the meticulous preliminary maintenance performed on the fleet in the heat of summer will have paid off for this United team when the deicing season begins.

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