What is Ground Support Equipment?

There are a variety of services that are available for aircraft before takeoff and after landing is made. These services, called ground handling, can include things like cabin service, catering, passenger service, field operation service, etc and what they all have in common is that they all must enlist the support of ground support equipment. Ground support equipment is industry jargon for equipment designed with the purpose of supporting the safe operations of the aircraft. This equipment, usually kept on a ramp near the terminal when not in use for quick accessibility, includes a variety of different items, some of which you can read about in the outline below.

De-icing Vehicles

True to its name, these vehicles are used to apply de-icing and anti-icing solutions on an aircraft so as to prevent cold temperatures and frozen water from damaging the aircraft. These vehicles have access to the entire aircraft so that they can spray an ice melting solution that also serves to prevent ice from building up while the aircraft awaits departure.


Dollies at airports come in different forms and sizes, each designed to serve a different function. What they do have in common is that each consists of a platform on wheels used to hold and carry heavy items. Dollies used as ground support equipment include dollies for unit load devices (ULD) which operate more like a mobile pallet in that it’s lightweight and travels fast, yet supportive enough to carry heavy loads. There are also dollies for loose baggage, which are completely enclosed to protect the items from the elements and feature a brake system to prevent the wheels from moving when not desired.


Aircraft refuelers consist of either mobile carts or self-contained vehicles. Since aircraft fuel is so in demand, refueler trucks can sometimes load as much as 10,000 gallons of fuel. Smaller carts are used with a hydrant system which connects to a refueler truck and can simplify refueling logistics for airports by providing more refueling options from one truck.

Ground Power Units

Mobile power units designed to supply power to parked aircraft are called ground power units or GPUs. GPUs can be built directly into the jetway for even easier power supply access. Aircraft power requirements range from 28 volts of direct-current to 115 volts 400 Hz alternating-current.


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