What are the Different Aircraft Towing Procedures?

Aircraft towing is a vital operation, necessitating precision so that hazardous situations do not arise. Towing is often needed for the movement of active and static aircraft on airport ramps and hangars. If you are not following proper taxiing procedures, towing aircraft can be dangerous for towing team members, potentially causing damage to the aircraft itself, and inevitably leading to flight disruptions.

Towing procedures should begin with ensuring that towing team members are using the proper ground support equipment (GSE). Towing procedures are usually performed by utilizing a towing vehicle, aircraft tug, or aircraft recovery dolly. The aircraft is attached to this vehicle with the use of a towbar or other specialized tool that raises the nose or landing gear off the ground. When using a towbar, operators must check that the proper towbar and towbar head is being utilized. Additionally, inspecting the towbar and its connection point to the aircraft is paramount as any cracks or damages can be a risky threat.

Next, it is important to test an aircraft’s braking system prior to each airport towing operation. If an aircraft has malfunctioning brakes, it should only be towed for brake system repairs. In this case, operators should have wheel chocks to prevent accidental movement. When the aircraft is stationary, towing team members should never rely solely on the towing vehicle’s brakes to keep the aircraft still.

To carry out towing procedures, you must begin by preparing the aircraft for transportation. Prior to moving the vehicle, the engine must be completely turned off. To prevent damage to the aircraft or injury to personnel, all entrance doors should remain closed, ladders must be fully retracted, and gear-down locks should be installed. In addition, operators should also check that all tires and landing gear struts are inflated properly.

While using the correct equipment is important, it is crucial to have operators that know how to use it. Aircraft towing requires that all team members are on the same page and are prepared for any situation. The aircraft tug operator is tasked with safely operating the vehicle and coordinating his or her actions with other team members. On the other hand, wing walkers are typically stationed near the wingtips, allowing other members to clear the aircraft’s path. A tail walker may also be present in the case that the aircraft is going to make a sharp turn or is going to be backed into position. Another operator will usually remain in the cockpit, observing and operating the aircraft’s parking brake as necessary. Lastly, a team member may be positioned to observe and maintain the hydraulic system’s pressure.

Operating the aircraft slowly and steadily is paramount. The aircraft speed should not exceed that of the team members on the ground and should never be suddenly stopped. In order to park the aircraft, operators should maximize their precision while the aircraft is moved into the hangar. The use of ground signage and lighting can help make this process go by smoothly. Beyond such procedures, maintaining good communication should be all operators’ main priority. A lack of communication can lead to accidents, injuries, and damage to both the aircraft and personnel.

With so many tools and components needed to carry out sufficient aircraft towing procedures, sourcing top-quality equipment and parts is important. AOG Unlimited provides aircraft towing parts such as towbarless tugs and towbars, as well as other items like bearings, fastener parts, and more, for a variety of aircraft safety operations. Peruse our ever-expanding catalogs at your leisure and you will find that we have in-demand new, used, obsolete, and hard-to-find items from global manufactures that you can trust. Kickoff the procurement process with a competitive quote for your comparisons, and a dedicated representative will reach out with a sourcing solution that works best for you. 


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