New Twist For Narrow Bodies

Feature New Twist For Narrow Bodies Scandinavian Airline System (SAS) has created a new company and a revolutionary first product that could fundamentally change the physical handling of narrow body aircraft. Richard Rowe reports from Copenhagen...

Such a ground-based alternative could also offer in-flight benefits. Minor argues that a fully equipped B-737-800 with Sliding Carpets would add substantial extra weight, losing cargo volume and increasing fuel consumption — not to mention the actual cost of installation.

Similarly, containerisation on the A-320 family also incurs costs through installation, the additional weight of the containers in the air, plus ground storage, repair and managing the additional safety stock of containers.

Production plans are now in place with contractors standing ready in Newcastle, England. Much depends on the result of tests at Copenhagen and nothing will happen until Minor and his team have tested every eventuality. "Whenever we are completely sure, we will start production on 8 to 12 units," says Minor.

Production is expected to begin by the end of the year and certainly in time to deliver on the promise made to the Danish health authorities. Minor believes that suppliers are capable of a production rate of 8 to 15 a month.

How to cost the product is one immediate next step. Minor says it will "clearly be more expensive than a conventional belt loader," but is likely to compare favourably with the major pieces of GSE that it could eventually replace.

Ideally, RampSnake needs champions; operators who are willing to test the concept in difficult surroundings such as London Heathrow and Amsterdam Schiphol in Europe, and larger US hubs.

There has already been strong interest from many airlines and ground handlers, reports Minor. The first units, however, will most likely go to SAS, an airline that now leases its GSE rather than buy equipment it believes may become redundant. With its extensive narrow body fleet, SAS may need up to 150 units.

"This is only the beginning," promises Minor.

About the Author: Richard Rowe is a Contributing Editor for GSE Today and is based in Edinburgh, Scotland.

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