80

Advantages of towbarless pushback. You don't have to store different tow-bars for different a/c types. This is especially good for ground handlers who handle different airlines with different aircraft types. Also handy for ad-hoc one-off flights. Removing need for tow-bars means one thing less to check daily, weekly, monthly, annually. Towing with a tow-bar ...


55

This is called Powerback, most aircraft can do it, but it is not done very often. In a jet aircraft, the three main problems are: Reverse thrust tends to throw a lot of debris into the air because the exhaust is deflected to the sides and up and down too. This debris can damage the engine itself, other things on and around the aircraft or injure someone on ...


53

The "headset man" is a wing walker, and he is there for a reason - he is not just someone who needs a ride to where the aircraft is being pushed to. Essentially, he is an extra pair of eyes for the tow driver. He needs be able to see everything going on around the aircraft to avoid collisions with other aircraft or stationary objects. This task cannot be ...


41

The airports that feature this parking orientation are of small size, with the apron (or part of it) very close to the runway. Taking Dortmund Airport as an example: When an aircraft of a certain size (for example Airbus A319, Boeing 737) reaches one of the parking positions 5-12, it is pushed backwards into its parking position. The engines are switched ...


27

It's a steering bypass pin which isolates the nose wheel steering and enables the tug to turn the aircraft. The operator holds it up so that the captain can see it to confirm that it has been removed. This Wikipedia article refers to it On some types, there may also be a "downlock" pin which prevents the nosewheel gear from retracting whilst the aircraft ...


17

It can be done, in fact the DC-9 and MD-80 aircraft are approved for backing up using reverse thrust. It is called "powerback". It is rarely used since it is quite fuel consuming, noisy and increases the risk of sucking up debris near the gate area causing damage to the engines. Here's a video of an MD-80 backing up.


17

Yes, this is a perfectly normal practice, still used, especially for tight spaces, as seen in this video moving a 747 into the hangar for service. And no, it doesn't require any special equipment - the nose gear attachment is designed to be used either way. A still from the video:


16

Most modern commercial airliners are prohibited to power back. Ground operations in aircraft fitted with high-bypass engines are usually restricted to idle and low-idle operations (enough to make the craft start moving, after which momentum enables further movement with idle only). Aircraft capable of power back are predominantly thus turboprops, several ...


15

When is the GPU disconnected? Airports rules are applicable, for example airports may prevent the use of APU when the aircraft is at its stand (to reduce noise and pollutants release). The airline operating procedures also provide directives regarding when to start APU and engines. The general principle is that GPU energy is cheaper than APU energy, hence ...


15

You're correct that there are two ways to connect the tug with an aircraft. In case a tow bar is used, it is fixed laterally at the nose landing gear, while allowing slight movement for height adjustment. Usually, the tow bar may pivot freely laterally and vertically at the end that attaches to the tug rather than the aircraft end, which is fixed. The ...


15

While it's uncommon, it appears that many pushback tugs are specifically designed to fit underneath an aircraft like this. This wiki notes that (emphasis mine) Pushback tractors use a low profile design to fit under the aircraft nose. For sufficient traction, the tractor must be heavy, and most models can have extra ballast added. A typical tractor for ...


12

Generally speaking1, when an aircraft is allowed/ready to leave (deliberately not using the word depart) the gate, things proceed in the following fashion: The pilots are in contact with Ground Control, and when the aircraft is ready to leave, Ground approves that they can leave the gate. The pilots asks groundcrew that the pushback can start. Pilots are in ...


12

I didn't see this mentioned in Anilv's answer so it may only apply to light aircraft. In general aviation space, towbarless tugs can also allow for 180 degrees of rotation while keeping the nosewheel straight allowing for greater maneuverability than a towbar alone which is limited by the amount your nosewheel can turn. I have used one called the ...


9

It has been done before but is generally frowned upon due to high fuel consumption, equipment FOD caused by debris kicked up by the fan exhaust and intake suction dangers. It is just simpler and safer to connect a powered tug and give the aircraft a pushback. But yes, you can pushback using thrust reversers.


9

This is the first time I've seen aircraft being pushed back into their parking position. Though I am no expert, my experience as an airport operations supervisor (in a past life) would lead me to believe that the most significant advantage is that an aircraft could then depart the parking location more quickly under its own power (versus waiting for the ...


8

The tug operator talks to the pilot through an intercom connected directly into the airplane's audio system, and when the pushback is ready to start, the tug will confirm PB release with the pilot before the movement starts. If the tug operator doesn't have voice communication with the crew, hand signals are used, parking brakes off being two closed fists ...


7

Depends on the airline. At minimum, you need one driving the tractor, and in unconfined areas with nothing to run into, this is sufficient. In confined areas operators almost always require wing walkers to clear the tips, and someone at the tail if backing into a confined space or to make sure the pushback stays within any boundaries. So the answer is, ...


6

At controlled aerodromes, the aerodrome control tower is responsible for separating aircraft on the maneuvering area (from other aircraft, and from obstacles, vehicles etc.). If a pushback is done onto a taxiway which is a part of the maneuvering area, the aerodrome control tower must approve this first. At large aerodromes, there are different tower working ...


6

I Have found out this Mitsubishi pushback tug in real life at Haneda airport, Tokyo. but I wasn't able to get the original model number but I belive Mitsubishi hasn't set one for it otherwise the TOMICA toy co. would have named it as the other toys. This pushback tug was only associated to pushback the B747 only, since all the photos the tug was with B747 ...


5

As mentioned there are two ways used for pushback: towbar and towbarless (TBL) push trucks. There is a third way that is not as common: the Power Push Unit (PPU). Source: airliners.net Unlike the standard pushback process that uses a pushback truck and a towbar attached to the nose wheel, the PPU is a remote controlled truck directly attached to one of ...


5

While it isn't desirable to try to push an airplane with the brakes set, nothing much happens if you try. Nothing moves, and the tow bar is so strong in straight compression/tension that it isn't likely to be damaged. Problems are much more likely once momentum and moving tugs/airplanes get involved; that is when a sudden brake application is more likely to ...


5

Any aircraft with thrust reversers or reversible props should in theory be able to execute a powered pushback, FOD and ground facilities damage notwithstanding. In a previous life I was an AC-130 crew chief -- loved the fact that those things could back up. But I think the main reason you don't see many air carriers using their thrust reversers for ...


5

If the crew are inside the aircraft and sitting in the cockpit, and there are no obstacles near the aircraft, there's no problem with one person doing the push back. In the military I was certified to tow medium transport helicopters and I could initiate the tow by myself when coming from the line to the hangar if someone was in the cockpit riding the brakes,...


5

As other answers note, for most aircraft, the risk of the engines ingesting FOD while powering back is too high. This is particularly true for turbofan engines mounted under the wings. Turboprop engines tend to be mounted on high wings (such as on the ATR-72), and they tend to serve smaller airports where an airline may not have tugs available for pushback. ...


5

From a pure theoretical standpoint, the speed limit would be whatever rolling speed can be achieved with max reverse thrust. If you deployed max reverse on a landing, and left the max reverse on until you stopped, then released the brakes and left it on as you started to roll backward, you would accelerate backwards, and if you were able to maintain steering ...


4

Can commercial airliners theoretically taxi backwards using reverse thrust? - After an airshow at RNAS Yeovilton, Somerset in the 1980s a British Airways Concorde found it could not taxi out for departure as it had been parked too close to an adjacent hangar (and didn't have the required turning circle)... there was no suitable towing gear on site, or within ...


4

This AC covers a lot of the regulations around towing aircraft and according to the regulations Towing Speed. Towing speed should not exceed that of walking team members. Towing speed should not exceed the safe operating speed for the conditions or the published speeds established by the TLTV operators published procedures. In other words you can ...


4

Pushback via reverse thrust is problematic for turbofans, as they kick up lots of debris, which could be ingested into the engine or hit something laying around. Presumably the ATR as a turboprop doesn't create as much wind, and with a turboprop the reverse thrust is blowing from the front of the engine, so there's no chance the debris will reach the ...


4

Just about any turboprop or piston engine airplane with reversing propellers can do it, as the airplane doesn't care whether BETA reverse is being used on the ramp or a taxiway or a runway. You normally use DISCING (flat prop blades to make zero thrust) when taxiing when you want slow down or when you are stopped. To go backwards, you just move the powers ...


4

I found an old magazine advertisement that displays the pushback tractor in question. The ad is for Mitsubishi Heavy Industries "ground support equipment" or G.S.E.: Source: Aviationancestry.co.uk The advertisement is from Interavia November 1970 issue (also March 1971). Unfortunately it offers no further information about the tug, but I will ...


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