Australia, New Zealand & the Pacific Airline and RPT Rumours & News in Australia, enZed and the Pacific

Remote Control Push Back Tug

Old 22nd Jul 2004, 09:37
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Talking Remote Control Push Back Tug

I heard a funny story early this week and I was wondering if it had any fact behind it.

One of our airlines is apparently using remote controlled, electric powered, push back tugs. I havn't heard of these before so I was quite curious.

The funny part was that the operator had an incident recently (or so I was assured) in which the wrong remote was used. The crew had asked for push back however their aircraft didn't move. When the operator of the tug looked around the next aircraft was slowly moving away from the bay. I can imagine the effect on those in the next when does the autopilot take over????

Last edited by Trash Hauler; 22nd Jul 2004 at 09:51.
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Old 22nd Jul 2004, 09:42
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old news, jet star are using them and yes someone did use the wrong remote.
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Old 22nd Jul 2004, 10:34
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...old news alright, we've had them over here for ages. Good ol Kiwi ingenuity i do believe. The downside is that it would appear only Qantass over here can afford to use them.
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Old 22nd Jul 2004, 21:17
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If you're referring to the "powerpush" the Kiwi 737's use them all the time.
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Old 22nd Jul 2004, 21:50
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Silly question, but why wern't the park brakes applied on the aircraft that was pushed back.
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Old 22nd Jul 2004, 22:59
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It really brings a smile to my face, can you imagine the perplexed expression on the bloke who is doing the push back when he plays with his remote and nothing happens..........then on the next bay a 717 is shaking itself about damaging a door!!!!!!

As they say PRICELESS!!! It would have made a great video for one of those TV programs.
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Old 23rd Jul 2004, 04:29
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Mr. Wooby - standard procedure on the B717 is for parking brakes to be released once chocked. I believe due to brake cooling issues.
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Old 23rd Jul 2004, 11:37
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Any Dash 8 pilots like to comment on the use of tow motors from bays 49, 53, 55 and you taxiing behind. Any issues, e.g. night, rain, poor vis?
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Old 24th Jul 2004, 07:34
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Remote control tugs! - cut out the middle man and put the button in the Tower. (assuming there is one) No need for "push back approved" GMC just presses the button! (Naturally there'll be a charge)
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Old 24th Jul 2004, 22:44
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You raise an interesting question. I've found that if we're cleared to taxi "clear of the A/C pushed back off xx" it's generally easier to turn around on the bay, and wait for the remote tug to be moved out of the way. They are more difficult to spot on the ramp due to their small stature, but I can't comment on night/bad Wx as I've not seen one at night (?)

I don't know what the J* SOPs are for operating the device, but when disconnected it can be driven back anywhere from 10m to 100m, sometimes blocking the taxi route for following A/C (in the latter instance). They also appear to travel randomly on the ramp once disconnected. It'd be good to know that the device will be stopped xx metres behind the A/C, and when being repositioned to the gate that it will take a specific route clear of other A/C. I guess that's an issue for interested parties to work out?

The best bet is keep a good lookout. It's just like any other potential hazard on the ramp. I reckon the plods in the APS cars are a greater risk as they seem to think they have right-of-way over everyone else, including A/C.
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Old 25th Jul 2004, 01:55
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APS Cars

Jarse, you're 300% right about the APS cars!! Infinitely more chances of being run down and killed on the apron by one of these guys playing spastics incorporated at 100km/h on a dark ramp than being being killed by one of those they are 'protecting'us from!

You never quite know for sure whether you will make it alive from the dark GA ramp to P5 without getting 'mowed down' ........
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Old 25th Jul 2004, 02:09
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Does anyone know if the APS guys have to do an airside driver's course and if so can they be banned for breaching speed regs on the apron? I assume that, like the ambos and cops, they are allowed to 'speed' in specific circumstances (ie, "There's Osama! Get him!") but not just to get to the donut shop. Cheers,

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Old 26th Jul 2004, 11:35
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I've been in a situation where a 717 was pushed back from Bay 55 is on taxiway C at night in rain. We were given a clearance from bay 18 via foxtrot to the foxtrot holding point 16R.

ATC asked us if we could keep clear of the tug. Once we turned onto C, as we were directly behind the a/c and tug, all we could see was the flashing light. We couldn't see how far away it was, or even if it was moving.

ATC seemed to get agitated. We just did a 180 and went the other way around.

No big problem, they're just hard to see at night in the rain.
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Old 26th Jul 2004, 12:22
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The thing I look out for is how they offset the "powerpush" behind the aircraft after start. And then they don't bring it in until the aircraft is powering away. Assuming something similar to Waldo's experience(bay18 to F intersection) it could get close if the guy with the remote pushed the controls the wrong way.

Whenever I see the guy with the remote standing out on the tarmac I have to smile and just shake my head at how amazing things are in the industry. I mean try telling someone 15 years ago that the 'young kid with the remote control car over there' will be doing that for a living only with moving aircraft. It really looks like a big kid having serious fun.
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Old 28th Jul 2004, 02:51
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How many years to break-even the cost offset of 'salary savings of tug driver' vs. 'just one X damaged door / airbridge / grounded aircraft / disrupted pax / crew when the wrong remote gets used next time'. ? Mr bean counter? Hello?

Last edited by Uncommon Sense; 28th Jul 2004 at 03:18.
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Old 28th Jul 2004, 03:14
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Its called acceptable risk and whats it going to hit except some tyres as it can fit under the wing.

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Old 28th Jul 2004, 06:04
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Do these things use radio frequency to direct the tug or is there a wired connection. (like the headset of the ground crew)

If there is a wireless connection i sure hope there is encryption and some type of anti jaming built in. Otherwise you could have usama sitting up in the departure lounge playing smash up's. in the big sand pit.
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Old 29th Jul 2004, 12:02
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Uncommon Sense

Many a human tug driver have damaged aircraft so the argument of the salary savings does not carry with the bean counters. Maybe (and I mean maybe) the bean counters wanted people off tugs as the real money saver.
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