Self-Propelled Passenger Stairs Elevate Passenger Experience

April 9, 2024
Updates to Mallaghan's range of boarding equipment incorporate industry standards, advanced technology and VIP options.

Passengers might not think about how they will board an aircraft, and they shouldn’t have to. But all airlines and ground handlers operating without access to boarding bridges need to utilize stairs, whether they are towable or self-propelled.

Mallaghan’s self-propelled passenger stairs are designed to offer travelers a safe, stable and reliable aircraft boarding and off-boarding experience.

“Self-propelled stairs are largely consistent across the industry but what Mallaghan excels in is their technological offerings, product quality and unparalleled level of service,” says Joe Griffith, Mallaghan’s chief commercial officer.

Mallaghan’s range of self-propelled stairs complement its range of towable passenger stairs. According to Griffith, Mallaghan expanded its stair range from towable to self-propelled in 1998.

This shift to self-propelled stairs allowed for additional options and features to expand substantially, incorporate more technological advancements – like electrification – and comply with regulatory requirements.

Mallaghan’s safety gate system complies with the EN 12312-12 specification and the self-propelled stairs include a controlled approach system that complies with Chapter 913 of the International Air Transport Association’s Airport Handling Manual (AHM). Beyond these examples, the self-propelled passenger stairs are compliant with all relevant IATA, SAE and EN standards.

Examples of new technologies include safety gates, a controlled approach system and LED stair lighting, which comes standard and operates with sensors and timers.

Options and accessories for the self-propelled stairs vary. These may include an enclosed driver cab with heating and cooling, a fully covered stairway, internal combustion engine or electric powertrain, as well as VIP options like carpeted steps, stairwell air conditioning, hard wood or gold leaf handrails and more.

Beyond the standard 88-inch platform, an optional 118-inch wide platform can be outfitted on the stairs. Loading capacity for the stair section is 488 kg/m2 and 317 kg/m2 for the platform. The payload allows for a 40-passenger maximum.

Mallaghan’s self-propelled passenger stair range is powered by a 24V Deutz Diesel engine.

“Electric-powered, both lithium-ion and lead acid, now make up a substantial volume of our sales,” says Griffith, adding solar panels, too, are common.

Also popular is the controlled approach system (CAS).

“Almost all orders now include Mallaghan’s AHM-913 compliant Controlled Approach System, which utilizes the most technically advanced sensor technology available. A powered and automated swivel nose comes as part of our CAS offering but can also be provided as a standalone feature,” Griifth says.

To protect ground personnel, standard interlocks include “function inhibit” unless the handbrake is engaged and the transmission is in neutral. Additionally, safety features ensure “drive inhibit” until stabilizers are fully retracted. Drive speed, which goes up to 25 km per hour, is restricted to 5 km per hour when the stairs are raised and a reverse alarm is included as standard.

In accordance with EN-12312-12, Mallaghan has an interlocked safety gate system that prevents the stair reversing from the aircraft unless the platform and steps are cordoned off.

In addition to the CAS, various camera system options are available to prevent aircraft damage.

Griffith says Mallaghan takes pride in keeping products as simple as possible in regard to both operational and maintenance requirements. For example, the self-propelled stairs have hydrostatic drive with dynamic braking, engine and electric power packs, and hydraulic systems sited in easily accessible locations.

“Delta Air Lines have been undertaking a full fleet replacement program moving to Mallaghan stairs. Their aim is to standardize their fleet and reduce complexity, with Mallaghan stairs able to service all their mainline aircraft. They are extremely happy with the performance and quality of the product,” says Griffith.

Aviator, the largest independent ground handling company in the Nordics, has both diesel and electric self-propelled stairs from Mallaghan. They are in use year-round, including in the harsh winter season, and Griffith says Aviator has been very satisfied with the performance on both electrical and diesel versions of the steps.

Altogether, Mallaghan has sold more than 1,000 of the company’s self-propelled stairs to customers in more than 40 different countries worldwide.

“While many are returning customers satisfied with their products,” he says, “every year also sees an intake of new customers. Customers include leading airlines such as British Airways, Frontier, JetBlue, Aer Lingus and Delta Air Lines.”

According to Griffith, factors to consider when selecting passenger stairs include aircraft range to be serviced, travel distances required, operational cycles and ultimately total cost of ownership calculations.

About the Author

Rebecca Kanable | Assistant Editor

Rebecca Kanable, a veteran journalist, joined Endeavor Business Media's aviation group in 2021. She has worked for various publications, including trade magazines and newspapers.

Contact: Rebecca (Becky) Kanable

Assistant Editor

Airport Business, AMT,

Ground Support Worldwide


email: [email protected]


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