What mechanism is employed by the Aerobridges to dock with the aircraft. I am not looking at how the plane docks but how the aerobridge manages to attach itself over the door of the aircraft? Is it some vaccum tech or what? From outside, one can only see the bellows/ flexible diaphragms.

What I am looking for is actually - how two non-conformal surfaces can be "joined" in order to create a sealed "lock" (assuming its closed from all other ends). This came to my mind and now I am trying to understand this as the situation is almost the same.


3 Answers 3


Well jetways don't exactly 'dock' with an aircraft; there is no hard coupling between the tunnel and the airplane like say that found with a spacecraft docking. Rather they are just maneuvered up against them with a soft canvas hood which can be actuated around the fuselage allowing protection from the weather for passengers and crew.

The jetway is maneuvered to and away from an aircraft via a small control panel near the hood of the jetway which controls an electrically driven wheeled drive supporting the terminus end of the jetway as well as screw jacks in the support pillars for elevation control. This allows a user to translate the length of the tunnel or rotate it about its connecting point to the terminal. The tunnel can do this by means of telescoping sections. The terminus of the jetway can be swiveled to match the curvature of the fuselage and the tunnel makes contact with the jet at the base of the terminus, usually with a neoprene bumper to prevent damaging the fuselage. The hood can then be lowered for weather protection.

The jetway will reverse this process after the main cabin door has been closed and secured and before pushback to prevent contact and damage with the aircraft during pushback.

  • $\begingroup$ @kevin got it sir. I meant to say that only, my bad :P naa. Any help offered in any way should be appreciated, I think that. Its not for the reputation etc points :) :) thus accepted it. It cleared the doubt I had :) $\endgroup$ Oct 26, 2016 at 12:23

Well, the jet bridge does not actually join with the airplane. If you look at the place where the jetbridge and the airplane meet, there is a rubber bumper and some accordion cover (that just comes down on top of the doorway) which are the only things which touch the airplane. The two things never actually make a seal where they meet.

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    $\begingroup$ Quite a few jet bridges also have an auto leveler sensor, a small rubber wheel, that touches the airplane. This keeps the bridge aligned while passengers offload and the aircraft gets "taller". $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Oct 25, 2016 at 23:58
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    $\begingroup$ They're not attached to the aircraft in any kind of structural way (you can often see a small gap in fact). Same as a set of stairs pushed up to the aircraft door. It's just an object, anchored to the ground, that is directly next to the aircraft (and an auto leveler, as Ron notes). If the wheels were suddenly removed, then yes, the whole thing would collapse. $\endgroup$ Oct 26, 2016 at 0:00
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    $\begingroup$ @fattypanda try velcro... lots of velcro $\endgroup$
    – Jon Story
    Oct 26, 2016 at 12:11
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    $\begingroup$ @fattypanda you can always try cold welding, although you'd have to really clean thai airplane and jetway surface (and probably create a slightly bigger vacuum around them). $\endgroup$
    – JustSid
    Oct 26, 2016 at 22:34
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    $\begingroup$ @fattypanda If you really want, you could have the jetway at a lower pressure than the outside and the canvas covering would be more flexible so the jetway just sucks onto the airplane. $\endgroup$ Oct 26, 2016 at 22:52

To answer the actual question, unless you can draw a vacuum seal it's not really possible without throwing straps around the object being captured and pulling them taut to hold it in place.
And even then you'd need some kind of compressive material to actually cause some sort of seal between the objects.
But that of course is out of the realm of aviation and thus off topic for this site.

Actual docking systems always involve specially designed parts that hook up to each other and lock in place, plus a sealing mechanism (for example a rubber sleeve). Think the docking adapters on spacecraft, the in flight refueling systems on military aircraft.

  • $\begingroup$ Jet bridges do not involve parts that 'hook up'. This answer then does not answer the question (well, ignoring the vague, off topic bit) $\endgroup$
    – Sanchises
    Oct 27, 2016 at 7:34
  • $\begingroup$ @sanchises it answers the actual question, and if you read what I say you notice I nowhere say they "hook up" but that they should to make what he wants work. Learn to read and comprehend English. $\endgroup$
    – jwenting
    Oct 27, 2016 at 8:34
  • $\begingroup$ Please refrain from being rude - just because I try to keep my comments short does not mean I do not mean well. This answer does not answer the on-topic aviation question "How does the Aerobridge dock...?" On the other hand, this answer does not provide a good answer to the alternative (in my opinion off-topic) question either, "how two non-conformal surfaces can be "joined"", since there are other methods than throwing straps around something (most obviously, clamping; but also magnetic, electrostatic, simply 'pushing' together, etc). $\endgroup$
    – Sanchises
    Oct 27, 2016 at 8:58
  • $\begingroup$ @jwenting I can somehow understand what you are trying to say. But your last words regarding docking adapters has set me thinking, looking into it. As per the discussion I had with above people who answered, I understood that they just press against the surface of an aircraft and to prevent the plane from damage use a rubber tubing around the joining interface. Nothing "hooking up" tech involved. But throwing straps is something I definitely do not want to do. Suction seal is I am reading up on it. Other methods Sanchises mentioned - magnetic is out. Electrostatic adhesion, hmmm.need to think $\endgroup$ Oct 27, 2016 at 14:49

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