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Moving Planes? No Stress!

Schedules are tight and aprons are crowded, moving large planes is a daunting task!
Sick's Aircraft Protection System is here to help!

Tractor drivers are constantly moving an array of aircraft (including the ones we jet off on holiday in), and today's airports can be a challenging setting as even minor collisions are extremely costly in both time and money. To effectively deal with these challenges, TREPEL Airport Equipment GmbH link icon has come to rely on the APS (Aircraft Protection System) object detection system from Sick!

Although airplanes do have the ability to move around on the ground (duh, they've got wheels), strict safety precautions mean that they generally rely on tractors to reverse into a parking spot. This, known as a pushback procedure, is a difficult job that needs concentration. The men and women who manoeuvre the planes into and out of their docking positions have to contend with all kinds of objects on the aprons around the terminals and hangars. From having to navigate around airport infrastructure buildings, to keeping an eye on the buses, cars, trucks and unit loading devices and of course, the other planes in the vicinity. And not to mention the difference in sizes of the planes they cart about.

A driver assistance system that warns the driver of possible hazards needs to be highly reliable in this environment. It needs to be flexible, always taking into account not only the different kinds of hazards, but also the different sizes and shapes of the planes being pulled, pushed and manoeuvred. Given the size of planes, it also needs to reliably scan a very large area. There is no room for error here!

Moving from APS to TAPS

The APS object detection system by Sick helps the drivers of aircraft tractors move aircraft safely, reduces the risk of collisions and accidents and as a result helps avoid high repair / breakdown costs as well as unwanted downtime.

TREPEL, global manufacturer of airport ground vehicles, worked closely with the engineers at Sick, to develop a customised version of the APS - TAPS! This unique version of TAPS monitors oversteer of the aircraft and alerts the operator where needed, and it comes standard with the CHARGER 380, a towbarless tractor that is the most powerful and capable in its class. The CHARGER 380 is the ideal workhorse for airlines, airports and ground handling companies. It can easily and reliably handle even the largest aircraft types while being perfect for long-distance towing and inter-gate servicing.

Moving Large, Heavy Loads Safely

A towbarless tractor such as the CHARGER 380 scoops up the nose wheel of the aircraft so that its entire weight rests on the center of the tractor, giving the driver full control of the aircraft. The responsibility for the safe manoeuvring of the aircraft is completely in the driver's hands, which makes a reliable driver support system so vital. The TAPS system uses a Sick LiDAR sensor to scan the entire area under - and around - the aircraft, ensuring that even the driver's blind spots are fully covered.

Getting the Right Angle on Tight Turns with Sensor Calculations

When a CHARGER 380 scoops up the nose wheel of an airplane, the TAPS system determines the landing gear geometry. With this information and its built-in database, it then suggests a number of possible plane types to the driver. The driver selects the correct one from the list on the display and confirms the selection. The system is now able to make exceedingly precise calculations on how close the aircraft is to objects in the surrounding area, giving the driver highly reliable warnings of possible danger zones. This reduces the pressure on the drivers and lets them concentrate on the actual driving!

The system also delivers many other advantages. Based on information delivered by the LiDAR sensor, TAPS calculates the nose-wheel angle to a highly precise degree and supports the operator during manoeuvring to avoid exceeding the maximum allowed value. This system function avoids oversteering the nose-wheel, which can lead to delays while essential checks are made to ensure that the nose-wheel has not been damaged. TAPS guarantees a safe and punctual operation. And during manoeuvre towing, operators can rely on a situationally adaptive warning strategy, as well as an automated fault detection and targeted maintenance - all made possible thanks to the system's self-diagnosis capability.

Close Cooperation Magnifies Great Product Value

All of this is possible due to the excellent collaboration between TREPEL and Sick. "There were continuous improvements thanks to the excellent way in which the engineers at Sick reacted to the feedback we gave them," says David Bellavance, Research & Development Manager Towbarless Aircraft at TREPEL Airport Equipment GmbH. "This intense level of cooperation allowed us to continuously optimise the system in terms of its functions, the menus and even visually."

Sick's APS system has proved itself to be highly precise and reliable in many different settings, and the quality of Sick sensors is undisputed. But in the end it is Sick's desire to work closely with their customers, to listen to their needs and their experience that makes the decisive difference.

Looking for more information? We can help with that...

If you want to know more about Sick Sensor applications, or have any questions, don't hesitate to get in touch on 01254 685900 and our Internal Sales Advisors or Technical Support Engineers will be happy to chat!

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