Direct from Inter Airport — Outlook 2006

Dec. 14, 2005
I had the pleasure to speak with many GSE manufacturers, suppliers and distributors in Munich. Following is their take on the show and a brief industry outlook for 2006.

Charlatte GSE

Inter Airport Europe proved to be very worthwhile for the Charlatte Team. The global presence of customers substantiated its decision to introduce its prototype hybrid diesel/electric tow tractor.

Charlatte will use the Munich show as a springboard to introduce two new products to the airport ramp at the Aviation Industry Expo (AIE) in 2006, where it will present a new full size A/C powered belt loader as well as the value-priced TE208 (48) volt electric tractor for indoor and outdoor airport applications.

Farwest Aircraft Inc.

According to Farwest, even though its “big” show to exhibit tooling and equipment is and always has been the GSExpo at AIE in Las Vegas, the Inter Airport is a “must” place to be for any company planning to sell within the European marketplace and beyond. It is a great place to meet local customer contacts at one venue and to see what the competition is doing.

Farwest is anticipating and already experiencing an upswing in sales and airline business for the end of 2005 and the year 2006. It believes that this is fueled by additional maintenance demand of airlines and aircraft overhaul centers, as well as the introduction of new aircraft, such as the A380 and B787. The airline industry has entered an “up” cycle, which numerous statements from its top customers confirm.

FMC Technologies

Setting an unusual precedence for a large equipment manufacturer, FMC’s outdoor area did not include any of its products in Munich. It had a large tent with touch screen kiosks, large video screens and private meeting rooms.

FMC’s goal was to create an atmosphere that would support an information exchange theme. It focused on four messages: knowledge, innovation, safety and solutions; as value-added components on any purchase.

Another highlight in the FMC booth was the display of a 1/50th scale A380F on loan from Federal Express. Models of FMC’s Commander 15i and new Commander xr (extended reach) loaders surrounded the aircraft in servicing mode.

Fortbrand Services Inc.

Fortbrand Services attends Inter Airport primarily to visit with the European equipment manufacturers that it represents in North America (currently Patra Vammas of Finland & Fresia of Italy) meet with other suppliers and customers with whom it does business and try to identify new products to introduce into North America. It identified two products to conduct further due diligence with respect to its possible introduction into the North American market.

In 2006, it anticipates the needs of airlines, airport operators and service companies to preserve capital and enhance cash flow will continue presenting Fortbrand Services with additional leasing transactions and the opportunity to offer its GSE asset management skills and risk transfer capabilities to an increasing client base. Global Ground Support Global Ground Support attended the 2005 Inter Airport Europe showcasing its extended reach deicer (ER10600). The first ERD10600 was delivered to the United States Air Force in 2002 and more than 30 are currently in service worldwide. Global’s design was chosen by the Air Force because of its 75-foot (23M) height, enabling the Air Force to deice the horizontal stabilizers of the C-5 and C-17 Aircraft.

During the show, Global Ground Support had a chance to discuss new technological advancements and new product lines for 2006. Its ability to demonstrate the Global AirPlus system provided hands on exposure to a dramatic glycol reduction system in a time of escalating glycol prices and increasing environmental concerns. Global’s market continues to expand both domestically and internationally.


A successful show for Goldhofer, many airlines and ground handling companies showed their interest in its new product, the towbarless aircraft tractor AST-1 X — designed and manufactured to handle aircraft from A300 to A380.

The audience visiting its stand were not only existing Goldhofer customers but also new potential customers coming from all over the world. During the show, it signed a contract with Fraport AG for one AST-1 X 1200, the second customer — after Airbus — who purchased this new Goldhofer product.

Two other highlights of the show were the hand-over of keys of the 250th Goldhofer aircraft tractor to Japan Airlines and the exhibition of the 23rd aircraft tractor sold to the People’s Republic of China.

Goldhofer expects to have a successful year 2006, especially through the A380’s entry into service by the end of 2006.


Hydro introduced its new series tripod jacks called fortis. Customers liked it very much and gave some ideas on how to optimize fortis. According to Hydro, this kind of efficient communication can only be achieved at such a show.

With the show now behind them and having obtained many opinions from customers about expectations, fears and developments for 2006, it feels that the GSE market will not show any substantial growth in 2006. “So many airlines in US being in Chapter 11 has caused an unstable and unpredictable situation in the biggest sector of our market. On the other hand we see the low fare carriers growing substantially as well as the cargo sector.

Therefore we foresee that 2006 will be a challenge with added competition, but Hydro will be able to further improve productivity, offer new products and services and as result strengthen our market leadership position,” says Jürgen Droste, managing director.

J&B Aviation Services

J&B utilized this show to enhance its presence in three key areas of growth it have experienced in the past few years and which it will concentrate even more on in the coming year. First, it promoted its full range of ancillary ground support equipment with emphasis on J&B’s industry leading nylon PCAir connector and the introduction of its new lower cost, high quality air-a-plane PCAir hose. Second, given “J&B’s rapidly expanding international sales,” it arranged numerous meetings with existing international agents and through research and strategic planning conducted prior to the show, it introduced its products to potential new agents with the intention of expanding its presence worldwide. Lastly, as military sales will represent a substantial portion of J&B’s annual revenue and sales effort in 2006, it utilized this occasion to promote its military line of products to key distributors in the international marketplace.


KAMAG presented its aircraft tractor and catering truck vehicles which are used as GSE at airports. Very much the star of the company’s exhibits was an aircraft tractor which has been designed to handle the new A380 super jumbo from Airbus. A variable ballast system, specially developed by KAMAG, allows the aircraft tractor’s dead weight to be adapted to the size of the plane in order to achieve the traction required by the tractor to ensure safe handling throughout. Another focus of attention for KAMAG was in the area of aircraft catering — a vehicle with special van body and an integrated scissors lift mechanism was on display.

It expects an increasing demand for its ground support vehicles in the coming year. The uncompromising design of its products for high level efficiency and economy will help them to boost the demand worldwide.

Meggitt Fuelling Products

In August 2005, when Meggitt PLC, the international aerospace, defense and electronics group, acquired UK-based Avery-Hardoll, joining its operations with Whittaker Controls in California and merging its fuelling capabilities into a new company, Meggitt Fuelling Products, the newly formed company met with a variety of customers, distributors and representatives and displayed a variety of its products and services.

Its outlook for 2006 is very positive. It is developing a number of new products that will facilitate airport operations and the combination of Whittaker Controls and Avery-Hardoll will enable the company to enter new markets previously not served.


Safegate unveiled a preview of its new generation visual docking guidance system at Inter Airport. It felt this was an ideal venue to generate some focus group type of feedback from its customers, agents and consultants, and it was not disappointed. “We were pleased by both the enthusiasm our audience showed for the expanded capabilities and with the quality of comments and suggestions we received,” says Tom Duffy, owner.

Development of the new Safedock T1, as the system is known, is now in its final stages using focus group feedback garnered at Inter Airport and key customer meetings. Production is scheduled to begin in the 2nd quarter of 2006. On the airfield lighting side of its business it was promoting the turnkey applications for the Airfield Smart Power (ASP) technology by displaying “Stop Bars in a Box.” According to Duffy, with runway incursions back on the rise it wants airports to know that there are practical and effective solutions available for installation today. There is no need to test fate while waiting for the technologies of the future, such as ASDE-X, to work out its problems.

“Overall, and despite the dismal financial state of the industry, it was quite apparent to us that there is money available and interest for reliable technologies that will increase safety and efficiency on the airfield,” says Duffy.

SAGE Parts

“A great show and well attended, we met with an equal number of existing and new customers. Most of them are our international customers who you don’t get to see as often so it’s good to reaffirm relationships with them. We’re talking about expanding our role with them and doing additional types of parts trade and it was good to see these overgrown tractors and other things to service the A380. To me it all just represents opportunity,” says Michael Bloomfield, president.

As for 2006, Sage is looking for growth to come from outside the US, in Europe and Asia. It experienced such dramatic growth year after year that its numbers in the US for 2005 have been quite impressive. But growth outside of the US was phenomenal in 2005 and Bloomfield suspects that it will only get better in 2006.

Bloomfield believes the industry will always be affected by fuel as long as the airlines have an inability to raise the price of their product. What goes on in the airline industry is unnatural and as long as cost continues to climb, they’re always going to have trouble.


For Schopf, the fair has shown and proven that projects, which have been postponed in the past several years are going ahead and it expects positive movement in 2006. “We are very proud that we could present the F396 tow tractor on our stand for the A380. This tow tractor has been proven worldwide and convinced the customer CASL in Hong Kong to procure one, as many other customers did already,” says Dr. Hermann Brüggemann, managing director.

The major concern about the future, according to its customers, is the cost and reliability of the ground support equipment, in particular tow tractors. According to Schopf, the life cycle cost is becoming the most decisive driving factor for the equipment. In general, the main subject is the A380 which influenced the Inter Airport in Munich heavily. More than 20 units are already in operation worldwide — “a simple and most reliable as well as economical solution for moving the A380 on the ground.”

Thyssen Krup

Inter Airport 2005 has been a very valuable and remarkable experience for ThyssenKrupp Airport Systems. It gave them the opportunity to provide a showcase on the boarding solutions conceived, developed and installed all over the world by ThyssenKrupp, especially those related to the new Airbus A380.

Thyssen Krup was also delighted to welcome so many representatives of the Russian Airports Association, with prestigious airports such as Domodedovo, Sheremetyevo and Vnukovo.

It looks forward to continued growth and satisfying the needs of the airports in 2006.


The 2005 Munich show went very well for TLD. “The attendance was great this year and we saw many customers from all continents at our booth,” says Antoine Maguin, COO. TLD had only one piece of equipment exhibited, the TPX-500-MTS, a maintenance tow tractor able to tow aircraft up to the A380 at high speeds.

For TLD, 2006 will be again a year of significant sales and profitability growth. Maguin claims sales are now way over what they had been in 2000 and 2001 and he believes the market is good for all GSE manufacturers as the traffic is now increasing all over the world. At the same time, TLD continues to expand its market share in most of its product lines.

“The 2006 outlook looks again extremely promising at the sales level, all our six factories are certainly going to be full all year long. And 2006 is also going to be marked by the A380 arrival, many of the decisions to buy specific A380 equipment, at the beginning scheduled for end of 2005, have been postponed by the A380 six months delay. So, we think we will see even more A380 equipment in 2006 but some customers may suffer from some unusually long lead-times if they don’t make decisions early enough,” says Maguin. In 2007, TLD will also deliver the specific loaders developed for BOEING for the B787 project (110 feet long, 110 tons dead weight, 24 wheels) and it looks forward to demonstrating its leading technological expertise in the GSE business.