Steve Williams, engineering director at Bridgend, Wales-based GSE manufacturer TBD, briefed Airside on some of the equipment on show on the company’s stand at inter airport
The first piece of equipment Williams highlighted was a set of TPS2435 passenger stairs, which have been upgraded and represent something of a step forward for the unit. The thinking behind the power-assisted stairs stemmed from three different issues, Williams explained: minimising aircraft turnaround times; minimising the number of handlers required to use a piece of GSE on the ramp; and minimising any conceivable health and safety hazards.
The TPS2435 stairs fulfil all these criteria, he noted. The hydraulic power-assist function is derived from a hatched diesel engine, the joystick control being found at one side of the base of the steps’ chassis. The steps can be moved at walking speed to or away from an aircraft using the power-assist mechanism, as can steering. The unit is also equipped with a tow pull for movement over longer distances (between stands, for example).
The stairs can serve the wide range of narrowbody aircraft that now fill the world’s skies. Later production models of the demonstration set of steps on show in Munich will also feature sensors that will automatically stop the unit a set distance away from an aircraft doorway. The operator will then manually extend the telescopic ramp at the top to bridge the remaining short gap between stairs and aircraft, thus mitigating any danger of aircraft damage.
The stairs are fully galvanised to ensure longevity. Hundreds of units of the older iteration of the stairs are already in use with customers such as Jet2, Menzies, TCR and Ryanair. The new version represents a cost-effective option for handlers wanting power-assisted stairs without the heavy expense of dedicated vehicle-mounted passenger steps.
Another focus on the stand was a TBD ACD157 Aircraft Container Dolly. The dolly incorporates a wide range of safety features that have drawn customer acclaim in recognition of the safety features built into the equipment. TBD has already supplied more than 700 container dollies to British Airways at London Heathrow’s Terminal 5 that now feature a very simple safety feature (amongst others) – a bright yellow safety loop/hoop attached to the ACD157’s bar that links each container dolly to its neighbour; this loop/hoop makes it very difficult for anyone to jump over the bar to get from one side of the dolly train to another – a not uncommonly attempted manoeuvre that has at times led to serious injury when the train starts to move as the individual tries to pass between two connected dolly containers.
Of this feature, Williams asserted: “We are anticipating high interest from safety-conscious airlines, aircraft operators and GSE lessors.”