Getting an aeroplane into the air requires a lot of equipment and much of it is actually on the ground. This ground support equipment is supplied by specialist companies like Red Box Aviation and it is crucial in getting an aircraft moved into position and powered up ready for taking to the skies. But what exactly is the sort of ground support equipment that's used? Firstly, let's think about how an aircraft needs to be moved into and out of its parking slot. This operation requires a degree of precision and control of something that could weigh anything from several thousand KG up to a hundred tonnes or more. It therefore needs a specialist piece of aircraft moving equipment known as an aircraft tug. These aircraft tugs can range from small hand operated pieces of equipment that give powered assistance and that can move aircraft up to around 5 tonnes to larger very powerful all-wheel drive vehicles that can move large passenger aircraft around with relative ease.
Moving an aircraft around is one thing, but providing the power to enable it to start its engines requires a completely different piece of kit. Most aircraft require a ground power unit to supply them with power in the correct voltage to get their engines started. The precise requirements for this power vary from one aircraft to another. For some small aircraft the requirement is for 12V power whilst many others require 24V or even 28V power units. As well as supplying power to start the aircraft some pieces of aircraft power equipment are also designed to provide a continuous source of power whilst the plane is on the ground. These continuous power units enable the on-board systems to run from the power supplied by the ground power unit - or GPU as they are sometimes called. Add to this other specialist types of ground power equipment such as charge management systems etc. and you will start to see how complex the issue of supplying power to an aircraft can be.
As well as moving and powering an aircraft there are of course other tasks that are vital to keep it maintained and flying. Specialist tools are used to test, measure and maintain an aircraft's systems in perfect working order. So, next time you take a flight on an aircraft you'll be a little bit more aware of some of the very specialist equipment that is working behind the scenes to help make sure everything works just as it should.