Ground Support Worldwide

APR 2013

The ground support industry's source for news, articles, events, product and services information.

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COVER STORY Tronair: Ground Support Product Leader The JETPorter Softcapture moves aircraft without straps, without touching the oleo strut and without the operator leaving the driver's seat. By Steve Smith ince acquiring the JETPorter line in 2006, Tronair realized that operators weren't thrilled about getting down on hands and knees, crawling under the aircraft, putting a strap around the landing gear and then pulling the plane into the cradle. Martin Kurzdorfer, Tronair's vice president of sales and marketing recounted a number of such stories heard during visits to many JETPorter and TLTV tug operators. "Man, this a real pain in the butt," was a common theme heard repeatedly. In addition, Tronair had received many reports of "negative events," which means that the use of a strap capture method had damaged the aircraft landing gear. S 6 As a result, Tronair's engineering department decided to take a hard look at the problem. What the engineers devised worked out perfectly for US Airways last year when new gates opened up at Reagan National Airport for the airline's regional fights. Beforehand, the jets parked remotely and the planes relied on their own power to make the turns. Now the ground crew would be handling pushbacks and also towing planes to hangars with tight space requirements. US Airways became Tronair's launch customer for the Softcapture® outftted on the JETPorter JP100S. The innovative cradle allows one operator to capture and move aircraft without straps, without touching the oleo strut – or any part of GROUND SUPPORT WORLDWIDE • APRIL 2013 the nose landing gear – and all without leaving the driver's seat. That's a great way to summarize why we picked the Softcapture and Tronair as year's Ground Support Product Leader. The Cradle: Let's start by describing how the Softcapture works on the model JP100S: • The operator drives the tractor to within 2-3 feet of the aircraft's nose landing gear. The driver then lowers the cradle by holding the "cradle down" switch, until the cradle motion stops. • The cradle stops its downward motion when a bottom roller causes a proximity switch to trip. The act of lowering the cradle automatically puts the vehicle in "creep speed" to safely approach the aircraft.

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