Looking back to Munich

posted on 6th April 2018

There’s no way of covering all the news from the recent inter airport Europe exhibition in Munich – which involved a total of 676 exhibitors from 44 countries … but here are some of the highlights from the airside world

JBT INKS JOINT MARKETING DEAL WITH AMSS

Big news from the first day of the inter airport exhibition in Munich included the announcement that GSE suppliers JBT and AMSS had signed a joint marketing agreement concerning the sale of certain products within the military ground support equipment segment.

The global, multi-year deal will see the two companies bring to their respective markets their combined portfolio of complementary products, giving their military customers access to what they describe as “a broad range of ground support equipment capable of supplying the conditioned air, high-pressure air, and electrical power needs of virtually all US and NATO fighter, trainer, cargo, naval, and specialty military aircraft”. JBT and AMSS will also jointly offer a range of air-transportable, military air cargo loaders.

Joint selling efforts may be conducted if and as required, while the new deal also includes a manufacturing angle, with certain product designs expected to be modified to meet local requirements or to be regionally manufactured.

According to a statement from the companies: “By combining extensive market knowledge, regionalised manufacturing, and broadened support capabilities with a variety of complementary ground support products, the JBT and AMSS agreement will result in a more comprehensive product offering and support structure for customers right across the globe.”

INNOVATION AT JBT

Both JBT and AMSS exhibited a range of products, some of them virtually new to the market, at the exhibition. On the JBT stand were units including the 180kW D180 diesel GPU, ideal for serving the needs of the new A350 and B787 ‘Dreamliner’ aircraft that require just that bit more power than other, traditional widebodies of similar class, and its Combo PCA/400Hz cart, which provides 20 tons of air conditioning and 90kW of power.

The latter was designed specifically for FedEx to provide both power and pre-conditioned air, but fixed-base operators (FBOs) and airports with relatively little fixed power/PCA support infrastructure and plenty of remote stand operations have also shown a lot of interest in the electrically powered unit. Amongst its many advantages, it is “whisper quiet”, says JBT AeroTech’s vice president and general manager, Jetway Systems, Brian DeRoche.

The other Jetway Systems product promoted at inter airport was the 400DH mobile diesel heater, a compact and portable unit offering heating for aircraft, hangars and GSE.

Away from the Jetway Systems portfolio, in the tug-tractor range of the JBT operation, vice president and general manager Chuck Durst explained the benefits of three other products on display on the JBT stand. The first was the Ranger 7-tonne loader, a complementary vehicle to the well-known JBT Commander, which Durst describes as the fastest loader of its type on the market today.

Also on show was the B250 tractor, introduced in North America just last year and now being promoted in the European market. Offering “superior performance” alongside low maintenance requirements, the tractor is a very efficient handler of aircraft up to A320 Family/B737 size. And the third unit was JBT’s Tier 4 engine emissions-compliant Tempest de-icer.

It’s not just new equipment that JBT is developing. Systems and support are also key value propositions. Thus, JBT offers its iOPS, or Intelligent Operations Performance System. This was first introduced a decade or so ago, but there have been major developments in the system in the past few years and it is now a key part of the JBT product and system portfolio.

iOPS operators can access intelligent system performance monitoring and tracking data. The system can be retrofitted to existing units as well as fitted to new models, and is applicable across the full range of JBT equipment including GPUs, loaders, bridges and so on, offering what JBT regards as an invaluable diagnostic tool.

All the recent developments in the JBT portfolio fall within the company’s emphasis on ‘Driving for success’ (hence the current pit crew branding being used by JBT) alongside a reputation for quality. JBT AeroTech president David Burdakin notes that efficiency and speed are vital in this regard. There is only a finite (perhaps only relatively slowly increasing) gate infrastructure available at airports, while many gateways and on-airport operators face demands for increasing operational tempo; the only answer is faster aircraft turnaround times – and highly efficient GSE is required to effect this, Burdakin notes.

JBT therefore has put in place what it calls a ‘continuous improvement programme’, changing the way it operates in many areas in order to provide more for its customers. Given the double-digit growth it has enjoyed this week, it must be doing plenty right, he would argue.

AMSS DISPLAYS NEW OFFERINGS

AMSS also had new some products on its stand, including the latest addition to its ATLAS loader range that sells into the military market. Also on the stand and painted in military olive drab colours was its DIS lift trailer, which boasts a maximum load of nearly 5 tonnes. Plus, an AMSS PRM40 ambulift was on display for those visiting the company’s stand.

Andy Cookson, AMSS’s managing director, believes that the deal with JBT offers great opportunities for the company, allowing it to benefit from the experience and access to markets of its well-established partner. Meanwhile, AMSS can bring to the parts its excellent contacts with continental European, and especially British, partners – not least the Royal Air Force (RAF). The deal will allow for the cost-effective distribution of a complementary suite of products, he insists.

SECURING THE CUSTOMER’SDE-ICING SUPPLY CHAIN

A safe and secure supply chain is vital for our customers,” says Stephanie Hochreuther, aviation technical application manager EMEA for Clariant, a major player in aircraft de/anti-icing and runway de-icing chemical provision.

In the European market, Clariant announced the acquisition of Aerochem (Sweden), strengthening its supply of fluid to Scandinavian customers and bolstering its production of fluid for the wider Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) market, which now involves production at three sites.

From September 2014, the former Aerochem manufacturing facility in Sweden continued to produce aircraft de-icing fluid (ADF) unaffected as part of the Clariant group. Since 2008, Aerochem has been Clariant’s exclusive partner for selling de-icing products in the Scandinavian region. The former Aerochem operation is now officially known as Clariant Production Sweden.

Today, Clariant boasts three aviation de-icing manufacturing facilities; as well as the Clariant Production Sweden site, it has its original and ‘home’ facility at Gendorf in Germany and another at Rauma in Finland. The Swedish facility is able to produce Safewing MP II FLIGHT (type II) de/anti-icing fluids; it also manufactures Safewing MP I ECO PLUS propylene glycol-based type I fluid that is said by Hochreuther to be especially environmentally friendly for the Nordic market. Moreover, since the takeover of Aerochem, the facility can now also produce Safewing MP IV LAUNCH (type IV fluid).

Away from the Nordic area, Clariant has also developed two new fluid types for the Russian market that are specifically designed for the long holdover times that are a feature of the aviation industry there. A new type I fluid (Octaflo Lyod) and a new type IV fluid called Max Flight Sneg (sneg is Russian for snow) are now available for Clariant’s partners in Russia.

As for the future? Glycol-based de-icing is all set to be with us for many years to come, Hochreuther says. It represents the state-of-the-art option right now, she considers. Monopropylene-based glycol is not toxic and while it is not good for the environment if allowed to soak into the ground (bacteria feed on it and use oxygen from the atmosphere to do so), it’s the best we have got. The key to future gains will lie in better recycling of the glycol, Hochreuther suggests.

Some airports are already using a closed-loop system of recycling glycol at their gateway (such as Munich International Airport); others are having to take it off-site for treatment or destruction. Clariant has no shortage of knowledge on the options available, and is keen to work with airport operators and other partners on the best methods to be adopted, Hochreuther concludes.

LEKTRO SHOWS OFFAP8950 ELECTRIC TUG

On show at the LEKTRO stand in Munich was the Oregon-based tug manufacturer’s AP8950SDB towbarless aircraft tug. Not so long ago, this particular model gained the last of its certifications for use with A320 Family and B737 type aircraft, finalising a breadth of acceptance not universally boasted by other manufacturers’ tugs – notes LEKTRO director of sales and marketing Stephen Sipe. It can tow up to approximately 95 tonnes.

The model has been exceptionally well received in the US market, its users there including such giants as United and Southwest Airlines. LEKTRO brought the vehicle to inter airport to widen its profile in the European market – the manufacturer’s European customers in the main currently lie amongst business jet and fixed-base operators (FBOs) rather than passenger carriers, although Turkish Airlines has taken a LEKTRO tug for its maintenance operation.

The AP8950SDB is simply built, requiring comparatively little training and little maintenance, Sipe observes. It is also inexpensive to operate and, being entirely electric, green, adds LEKTRO president Eric Paulson. Alongside every other of the tugs sold by the company, it is supported by a weight of after-sales support. Indeed, says Sipe, “We bury our clients with customer service. We said right from the beginning that ‘our customers will always be right’, and we just don’t have unhappy customers.”

Some of those customers have been around a long time, because LEKTRO is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year. Yet it hasn’t stopped innovating. It is, for example, now in the process of developing a diesel-electric hybrid tug. This will be only the second such hybrid developed by the company (the first was for a military application – all other LEKTRO tugs are fully electric).

The AP8850SDAH looks like it’s going to be “an excellent product”, says Paulson. He notes that a hybrid variant will allow some FBO or business carrier customers to maintain a degree of non-electrically powered tug capability on-airport just in case there should be a total electrical failure at the gateway or their own facility within the airport.

MULAG HANDLES THE LOAD

MULAG FAHRZEUGWERK, the Germany-based manufacturer of aviation ground support equipment, had a wide range of ground and cargo handling GSE on its stand, many of the vehicles featuring some interesting capabilities and modifications.

Its Pulsar 7 E container and pallet transporter is a new variant of its well-established Pulsar 7, the ‘E’ of the designation representing its fully electric drive. It can load a container or pallet of up to 7 tonnes (hence the number within the designation), and is said to be ideal for any freight-handling airport. The model was developed for Fraport and the Frankfurt airport operator’s green technology development programme, as well as other key customers.

A vehicle has been in trials with Fraport for more than six months to confirm that a fully electric vehicle can be powerful enough to handle cargo for an A380-size aircraft and that its battery is sufficiently long-lasting to get through busy operational shifts and need be recharged only overnight.

Fraport is a long-term partner of MULAG, having been a customer for the latter’s GSE for more than 40 years, so it is familiar with both the manufacturer and its offerings. It is already a customer for the Pulsar 7, as well as for the 14-tonne diesel version of the unit. Also available is a Pulsar 7 SL – a 7-tonne side-loading variant.

The vehicle was presented publically for the first time at inter airport. Otherwise, only a small number of potential customers had previously been made aware of it.

A LOOK INTO THE FUTURE

Also on the MULAG stand was a wide range of its well-known Comet tugs, which range from 3-tonne baggage tractors to much heavier cargo tractors. Comets are also available in a wide range of different drive systems – electric, diesel, hybrid, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), compressed natural gas (CNG) and even a third-generation developmental version called the Comet 3 FC, which is driven by hydrogen fuel cell technology. Of course, the number of airports and handlers able to support fuel cells is comparatively few, but the Comet 3 FC represents an interesting glance into a possible future.

A whole new generation of Comets is now being developed by MULAG, new variants based on the existing Comet models but featuring a number of new characteristics and capabilities. The Comet 6 New Technology Carrier includes a new chassis design and integrated air conditioning, and supports Euro Tier 4 emissions compliant engines as standard. MULAG intends to begin offering these modifications initially on its Comet 6 vehicles, on which production will start next year. Next-generation versions of the Comet 4 and 12 will follow, as the new variants are introduced in a phased process.

VALUE-ADD

Other technological advances are also available to MULAG’s belt loader customers as required. For example, its Anti-Collision Assistant (ACA) is already in service on belt loaders at two German airports (with handler WISAG at Cologne-Bonn and Berlin). The system, designed to prevent costly and potentially dangerous cases of ‘ramp rash’, employs ultrasonic sensors at the front of the vehicle to ‘spot’ obstructions and then slows the vehicle accordingly.

In essence, within an 8m radius of another vehicle, aircraft or other obstruction, the ACA will slow the vehicle to a walking speed. It will also offer an audible and visual alarm to the loader operator; then, within a 2m radius of an obstruction, the speed of the unit will be slowed yet further to a creeping pace. Finally, within a radius of 40cm, the ACA halts the vehicle. The ACA must then be overridden if the loader is to move forward – if necessary, to be inched forward by the unit’s operator. At all stages, different audible and visual alarms alert the driver of the loader to the hazard ahead. The ACA system has to be activated by the belt loader operator during approach to an aircraft.

Finally, available for larger cargo tractors is the MULAG EcoDrive option. By providing automated access to an additional gear on the tractor’s drive system, a savvy operator can save as much as 4% on fuel over any given period and noise can be lowered by as much as 50%. There are also fewer emissions in the higher gear because of the lower revs at which the engine then functions. EcoDrive can be retrofitted to most newer MULAG cargo tractors, and it will available on new vehicles. It is of course most useful when travelling at higher speeds over longer distances, just like an extra gear in a family car.

SEMMCO: CUSTOMISED SOLUTIONS

UK-BASED SEMMCO has carved out a particular niche for itself in the world of GSE provision, explains managing director Stuart McOnie. “We spend a lot of time talking to our customers, and all the products we have developed have been developed in consultation with them,” he says. It’s also an advanced tooling company that designs and builds all its equipment in the UK.

Because so much of its product is exported from the UK, one of Semmco’s priorities right now is to lower shipping costs and thereby minimise the price of the equipment for the customer. One way to do that, McOnie explains, is to make products – such as Semmco’s SMART Trolley, designed to carry three nitrogen cylinders – that are simple and modular, easily put together on-site. And, as a result of this new production process, the new SMART Trolley can be shipped out of the UK to anywhere in the world within 24 hours of an order being received.

Another focus has been on making products that are as applicable as possible to a wide range of aircraft types and sizes. Thus, for example, the set of maintenance stairs that were on display at the Semmco stand can be used on the whole range of A320 family aircraft and can be used to access all likely areas of attention on the aircraft – be it the cargo bay, cockpit windscreens, passenger doors, auxiliary power unit, engines, etc.

Semmco also ensures it remains as lean as possible in its design and manufacturing processes to keep costs down, McOnie informs.

dBD COMMUNICATIONS LOOKS TO BREAK INTO THE AVIATION SECTOR

UK-BASED dBD Communications is a supplier of – amongst other things – wireless communication headsets and, until now, has confined much of its efforts to the rail industry (in which it is now a leading market player in the UK). But managing director David O’Connell is keen to deploy his and the company’s experience and expertise into the aviation segment too.

dBD Communications offers a wide range of headsets for all sorts of applications – ones with noise suppressors on one or both earpieces/domes, ones with the strap over the head, ones held round the back of the head (for users wearing hard hats or helmets, for example), and so on. All employ modern Bluetooth communication technology that allow for use at long range while retaining clarity of speech. “By untethering the user, we reduce hazards associated with cable assemblies,” O’Connell notes. Freedom of movement is particularly valuable in the potentially dangerous airside environment.

Minerva is the brand name for the push-back communication system offered by dBD that was specifically designed for aircraft marshallers. Any user such as a marshaller wanting to communicate with an aircraft flightdeck plugs the Minerva foam casing intercoms box into the same input point on the aircraft as he/she would a standard radio communication cable – and Minerva wirelessly transmits all communication without the need for the user to be tethered to the aircraft. The intercom is effective out to a range of at least 100m and has a 24-hour battery life; it can be integrated with back-to-back radio. Trials of the system have been undertaken at London Heathrow by dnata, O’Connell confirms.

Another point-to-point intercom system effective out to 100m, Athena, is ideal for aircraft de-icers, offering a 20dB noise suppression effect through the domes that could be invaluable for any de-icer otherwise at least partially deafened by the noise of the machinery he/she is operating, O’Connell explains. This two-user duplex communication system has – like Minerva – a 24-hour battery life and can be integrated with back-to-back radio.

Finally, the Apollo system allows up to eight individuals to communicate independently over the same intercom system. The system can be integrated into vehicles such as tugs or other towing vehicles and has a range out to 500m when used in tandem with additional antennas. Suitable for ground handling crews, Apollo incorporates dBD’s digital signal processing (DSP) technology that reduces ambient noise.

dBD undertakes assembly and integration of its products in the UK. It has two sites in Basildon, having recently opened up the second location as a result of the rapid growth that it has enjoyed. Over the last three years, the company has tripled its turnover, for example. All its products are rigorously tested and user feedback sought, with the result that the dBD systems are extremely reliable – O’Connell claims 99.4% reliability on Athena systems after heavy use, for example.

MSG DE-ICE DEMONSTRATES THE INNOVATIVE RS 500

MSG DE-ICE, A TELEMARK, Norway-based enterprise, is working on an innovative approach to aircraft de/anti-icing. General Manager Svein Maeland has developed the concept and associated technologies for an under-cover, ‘closed’ aircraft de/anti-icing process that could potentially save time and resources, and reduce environmental degradation. The MSG RS 500 is described by MSG as the world’s “first closed system for washing and de-icing large airplanes”.

In relation to de/anti-icing, the whole process takes a maximum of six minutes per aircraft, with an anti-icing programme taking just two minutes. The full operation consists of three basic stages. In preparation, the nose wheel of the aircraft to be de/anti-iced is positioned in a track that allows the machine to be automatically pulled at the appropriate rate through the process, before the controller of the de/anti-icing process (who sits to the side of the middle of the closed system) selects on his computer software the aircraft type and the nature of the de-icing and anti-icing to be performed.

The initial stage of the de/anti-icing process then begins, when the aircraft is moved into position along the track for the nozzles fitted at the end of flexible, automatically controlled arms to spray de-icing fluid over the aircraft. Once that is done, the aircraft is moved along the track to the second stage, when the controller checks the aircraft to ensure that it has been completely de-iced. He has cameras – both normal and heat-sensing – to assist him in this, and can also operate further de-icers at this point to de-ice any parts of the aircraft that are still iced.

Finally, the third part of the process sees the aircraft further robotically sprayed with anti-icing fluid. Underneath the surface of the closed system in which all this is taking place are tanks that can collect the fluids used during the process; that fluid can then be either treated on-site or taken elsewhere for treatment or disposal.

The concept should see a saving in the time taken to de/anti-ice an aircraft, a saving in manpower, removal of the need for de-icing vehicles and environmental and financial benefits in the form of easy collection and subsequent treatment – perhaps for re-use – of the glycol used.

The whole facility could be switched, Maeland says, to an alternative application out of winter – namely, to aircraft washing, a process that would take approximately 20 to 30 minutes. The spraying nozzles represent the really new technological aspect of the concept, on which patent is pending (but whose effectiveness has already been confirmed by extensive testing, he says).

The Norwegian Government has already pledged its support for the idea, Maeland insists. He demonstrated the system on a 1:20 scale model at inter airport, but the next stage is to build a full-size prototype.

247GT OFFERS MORE THAN AN EVERYDAY SERVICE

PRESTON, UK-BASED 247GT serves the international airport and GSE markets but does so in a way that is just a bit different, explains the company’s CEO, Brian Sneyd. Not long since having celebrated just its second anniversary in business, the company operates in two particular market segments: by acting as a UK and Ireland agent for some of the big GSE suppliers and by offering its own niche products in an easy-to-access online environment.

Amongst the big GSE manufacturers currently represented by 247GT in the UK market are Germany-based TREPEL and the USA’s Global Ground Support, Sneyd informs. With regard to the former, 247GT recently assisted with a sale of the company’s loaders into a handler operating in the UK. With regard to the latter, Sneyd and his team are also looking to help Global Ground Support sales in the UK, though any procurement decisions on the big ticket items like de-icers or Global’s Glycol Recovery Vehicle (GRV) can take time to work through any procurement system.

247GT was also looking at inter airport to boost sales of a number of specialised GSE items in the UK market, including a piece of equipment to effect the removal of foreign object debris (FOD) from a runway and a new automatic fire extinguisher called Fire Knock Out (FKO). FKO is small enough to be placed in a vehicle engine bay (as well as installed in a warehouse or other working area); when it comes into contact with flames, it will automatically release its contents – namely, the three separate elements of dry powder extinguisher, water and a fire-retardant chemical designed to ensure the fire doesn’t re-ignite.

One of its own items that 247GT is selling in the UK is its Passenger Integrated Guide (PIG), a simple-to-use item that allows tape to be spread between two sets of passenger stairs and thereby ensure that passengers do not walk towards an aircraft’s potentially dangerous engines. The PIG has already been sold to customers including Menzies (menziesaviation.com), Jet2 (www.jet2.com) and ASIG, and is in use at British gateways including London Gatwick and East Midlands Airport.

As well as these items, 247GT offers a whole range of other GSE units and parts, including baggage trucks and trailers and airline-branded chocks in a quick and easy online environment. Purchasers can order their equipment via Amazon or eBay, and order and pay via their phone with ease if desired, Sneyd says.

“We don’t want to be everything to all people,” he goes on. Instead, the aim is to supply a limited number of items at good prices and, Sneyd insists, all items available in the online 247GT market will certainly be held in stock.

ADAC GOES WITH ADB ON THE SMARTEXPANSION PATH

ABU DHABI AIRPORTS Company (ADAC) has inked a deal with ADB Group for the development of Abu Dhabi International Airport’s airside infrastructure. The multi-year framework agreement covers design, construction, operation and maintenance of airfield lighting systems works and service.

Using ADB’s SmartExpansion Path methodology – which bundles ADB Group’s turnkey expertise into eight critical domains: data-driven traffic management, detailed auditing and survey to assess an airport’s safety needs, intuitive airfield ground lighting (AGL) design, innovative products and solutions, robust system integration, dedicated services and project management, in-depth training and proactive maintenance – Abu Dhabi International’s airfield will be redesigned after a survey of the existing airside infrastructure. ADB will specifically optimise the airport’s AGL infrastructure, including lighting, power, control, and surface guidance systems.

REGIONAL PRESENCE

ADB will establish a strong presence at Abu Dhabi to support ADAC and the wider Middle East region. More than 70 personnel across key functions and levels will be located there, as will a spare parts warehouse.

The scope of the agreement between ADAC and ADB covers three phases: an extensive airfield survey of air navigation and visual aids, plus consultation with the airport operations and management teams on how to improve the existing set-up; the design and upgrade of the airport’s AGL, control, monitoring, communication systems and integration of a solution to automate ground movement; and, finally, ongoing maintenance services.

Specific ADB solutions likely to be employed include the use of the company’s AGL and related systems to improve visual guidance, runway availability and safety, operational flexibility and capacity. ADB will install its AGLAS airfield light control and monitoring system, and integrate an A-SMGCS Level 2 and Level 4 system for smoother ground movement. The system will support air traffic control and pilots in low-visibility conditions and improve airfield safety.

ADB will also ensure that the infrastructure of the airport’s upcoming midfield terminal is integrated in this latest airside development programme.

“Abu Dhabi Airports is taking a visionary approach to strengthen its position as a key global aviation hub, and we’re happy to support their ambitions with our SmartExpansion Path methodology,” enthuses Christian Onselaere, CEO of the ADB Group. “We will steer the project in collaboration with our partners and support the complete survey-design-build-maintain lifecycle.”

GOLDHOFER AND SCHOPF LAUNCH PHOENIX FROM THE FLAMES

THE COMBINED ENTERPRISE that is the former Goldhofer and Schopf companies took the opportunity at inter airport to launch a new towbarless tractor, the AST-2P/X Phoenix (the ‘P’ represents the standard Performance model, the ‘X’ the eXtended performance variant).

Goldhofer and Schopf AST-2s serve the middle range of aircraft sizes, the AST-1s handling the larger A380 and B747 types, the AST-3s the smaller aircraft types. But the new AST-2 Phoenix variants can pull approximately 80% of aircraft flying today, says Goldhofer sales director, airport technology, Thomas Kramer – from smaller Fokker 70/100s right up to the biggest of the B777 family aircraft. The P and X models represent the latest (fourth) generation of the Goldhofer AST-2 tug.

This latest model has undergone extensive testing both of individual components and the vehicle as a whole, including successful operational trials at Switzerland’s Zurich International Airport. Its performance offers many advantages over similar towbarless trucks, explains Kramer and Goldhofer managing director Stefan Fuchs. It can reach a maximum speed of 32km/h, it boasts a differential lock for optimum traction even in hostile weather conditions, and a hydrostatic drive combined with steering axle for smooth acceleration.

The cab is fully air-conditioned and comes with an optional lift and lowering function, and the new suspension helps to reduce vibration in the cab.

It comes equipped with either Tier 3A or Tier 4 Final-compliant engines and an engine start-stop system, saving on both fuel consumption and emissions when the vehicle is stationary; the latter is said to be unique amongst this type of vehicle.

The vehicle can pick up an aircraft in the impressive time of less than one minute (unique on the market, Fuchs insists) and has a release time of less than 30 seconds. There is also a rapid emergency release option from outside the cab with the flick of just one switch.

The maintenance burden is eased by there being ready access to key components and the unit has been tested and approved by TÜV, the German inspection agency.

Furthermore, the vehicle is very reasonably priced, Fuchs says, thanks in part to being kept simple in its ‘lean’ design and construction – although its parts and smaller components are nevertheless of the highest quality.

The development of the new Phoenix tractor forms a part of Goldhofer and Schopf’s ongoing commitment to ‘Lifetime Performance’ in its methodologies and its products, Fuchs notes, adding: “For performance, quality and total cost of ownership, Goldhofer Schopf is the choice.”

It is understood that a number of orders have already been placed for the new AST-2 model. Production is expected to ramp up to about 30 to 50 a year by 2017, Fuchs says.

As well as the Phoenix, Goldhofer and Schopf’s stand featured a wide range of other GSE, including the AST-1X (the latest version of the F396), the F70, the ZH5 hybrid tow tractor, the F110e electric tug and the STT military tow tractor. “With our highly innovative Phoenix, we have really hit the nail on the head. Our new aircraft tractor was the number-one talking point at the trade show, and the contracts signed for advance orders reached double figures,” Fuchs enthuses. “The Phoenix has the flexibility to handle 80% of all operational aircraft, which makes it a must-have for every airport. Our other products, like the STT and the F110e, also met with a fantastic response.”

“With the Phoenix, we have landed a winner,” Kramer adds. “It shows that co-operation between Goldhofer and Schopf is producing excellent results. The success of our joint development work proves that we are pursuing a common goal: further consolidation of our leading market position as a global player through groundbreaking innovation.” n

AUSTRIAN QUALITY

Austria-based ground power supplier Hitzinger displayed a range of products on its stand at inter airport. Perhaps most prominent amongst them was its D Power 90 ground power unit (GPU). It is Tier 4F emissions-compliant and offers the latest in green ground power provision, says Jochen Philipp, Hitzinger’s airport division manager.

Also on the stand was Hitzinger’s S POWER solid state GPU. S POWER is efficient, reliable, easy to service and easy to use; moreover, its ‘stack technology’ is said to combine “active power correction with state-of-the-art inverter technology”. Units can be combined for additional power requirements, while cabinets can also be replaced both quickly and easily if required.

Hitzinger was also promoting its pop-up pit power provision. The system can be installed very close to an aircraft, thus taking up little space on the apron and avoiding the need for long trailing cables.

The company is growing quickly, and not just in terms of new products. It opened a new office in Singapore just a few years ago, and one in Florida in the US only last year. “The market is very good at the moment,” Philipp advises. Because Hitzinger’s GPUs run at comparatively low speeds, they offer significant benefits in terms of low operating costs, sustaining little wear and tear in use, and being relatively quiet. Yet alongside that low total cost of ownership that is a feature of its GPUs, they remain also of the highest quality – and have a global reputation as such – Philipp stresses. They are entirely manufactured in Austria, for example.

JMS GROWS ITS GEOGRAPHICAL FOOTPRINT

Matthias Korward, managing director and chief operating officer of GSE supplier Jet Maintenance & Service (JMS), was on the company’s stand to explain something about the company and what it offers. The firm was established about five years ago by a team of experienced executives who had previously worked together at another GSE supplier. They have since specialised – in the main – in offering jacks, lifts and towbars to the aviation market.

JMS has also spread its wings into offering specialised GSE products into niche markets such as customised jacks for the MS-21 Irkut jet airline project in Russia and engine installation equipment for Sukhoi for the Superjet 100 twin-engine aircraft development programme.

“We’re bringing new innovation to the industry,” Korward asserts, “bringing further improvement to some traditional equipment.” He is looking to grow the business into new areas, as well as expanding it in existing markets. Business in the Russian market was particularly good, up until the onset of the Ukraine crisis, but sales into Asia have also been increasing and the US market is also becoming more appealing given the favourable euro-dollar exchange rate (although JMS’s high-quality products can suffer in terms of price comparison with cheaper, mass-produced US items, Korward admits).

An agent in the US is helping to develop JMS’s footprint that side of the Atlantic. Based in Seattle, it is particularly well positioned to work with original equipment manufacturer (OEM) Boeing.

WASP MAKES THE CHANGE… FAST

WASP, the biggest manufacturer of non-powered GSE in North America, has just got a lot bigger and, to reflect that change, it launched a major rebranding process. President and CEO Dane Anderson took some time out at inter airport to talk to Airside about the transition.

The acquisition of FAST Manufacturing, a producer of agricultural sprayers and liquid fertilizer equipment also based in Minnesota, brought into the fold a significant increase in manufacturing capacity, as well as new employees and other resources. Despite having been known for about 35 years as a quality supplier of GSE, it was felt by Anderson and his WASP team that a name change was required to reflect the increased size and capability.

Thus, WASP has become FAST Global Solutions. The ‘FAST’ represents more than the name of the acquired company; it also mirrors the speed with which the company can meet the GSE demands of its customers (a speed only made even quicker by its increased manufacturing capacity).

The ‘Global’ represents the ever-widening scope of the brand and of the markets that FAST intends to expand into. Europe is a particular focus, but the Middle East, Asia and Australasia regions won’t be forgotten as target markets. New manufacturing facilities might also be opened up in these areas.

Finally, the ‘Solutions’ represents the way in which FAST seeks to meet the demands of its customers, while also offering the lowest possible total cost of ownership (TCO). That includes being happy to customise equipment if so desired by a client, Anderson notes.

It has been a “soft switch-over”, Anderson reports, FAST Global Solutions wanting to make sure that the customers of both WASP and the previous FAST are not left behind in the move and feel comfortable with the changes.

The acquisition has added significant new manufacturing capacity and the new FAST will benefit from economies of scale. Both industries use similar raw materials and, in fact, not dissimilar manufacturing processes, Anderson says. That allows for production to be switched from one production line at one facility to the other fairly simply. There has already been plenty of collaboration between the two sites, he points out.

EUROPEAN DOLLY

On the FAST stand at inter airport was the company’s all-new side-tow European Dolly. This dolly has manoeuvrability and the safety of the operator at the heart of its design (the latter has become a major focus of many of the company’s customers in recent years, Anderson informs).

This new dolly fits perfectly into the new FAST’s focus on the European market. And WASP/FAST already has plenty of CE certification experience, Anderson confirms.