Handling The Big Jets

Tom Allett looks at the latest machines from the Goldhofer stable.

Goldhofer Aktiengesellschaft, based at Memmingen, Germany, is a famous name in the aircraft tow tractor business.  The company began work on the very first towbar-less tractor (TLTs) in 1987.  No company involved in the aviation industry can afford to stand still, so it’s no surprise that the German manufacturer recently introduced its third generation of TLTs.
With a reputation for producing what a ‘Brit’ like me would describe as a ‘Rolls-Royce’ type of product, I envisaged that Goldhofer was selling to the very top end of the market.  However, as everybody knows, the aviation industry is still struggling to recover from the global economic downturn and Goldhofer says the design of its latest machines focus on cost efficiency, but without compromising on safety or quality.  In a company statement the German manufacturer says its product portfolio “has adapted to the changing market environment just in time.”
Visitors to the inter airport Europe exhibition in Munich during October may have seen Goldhofer’s newest TLT − the AST-2 X − outdoors alongside one of its best-sellers, the AST-3 L 140.  However, its flagship product is still the AST-1 X (6×6) A380 tractor.
The company’s brand new AST-2 X 490 is an upgrade of the successful AST-2 F/L TLTs.  The new model is equipped with the new Deutz engine generation, which complies with the COM III/EPA TIER III diesel emission standards.
Goldhofer says that with 360 kW / 490 HP of power, the AST-2 X represents the strongest TLT in its class and states that its permanent four-wheel drive system ensures the safe movement of aircraft up to 300t MTOW.
Since its introduction, the AST-2 series has handled an extremely wide range of aircraft and, as an all-rounder, the new AST − 2 X is designed to handle all towing operations, from pushback to high-speed-long-distance-towing.
To date, with 190 units having been delivered, the AST-3 L 140 is Goldhofer’s best-selling TLT Tractor.  The company estimates that some of the longer serving vehicles have now carried out more than 70,000 aircraft movements each.  Currently, over 430 Goldhofer TLTs are in operation worldwide, and are estimated to have performed more than 4.1 million working hours, moved more than 7.4 million aircraft, and have travelled greater than 10.5 million miles (17 million km)!
3-D Design ARTS-2 X for A380
“Goldhofer not only offers cost-efficient and innovative solutions within the field of towbar-less towing.  In the Aircraft Recovery sector our expertise in heavy transport solutions meets a high demand,” says CEO Stefan Fuchs.  “At Frankfurt International Airport we are currently upgrading the complete Aircraft Recovery Transport System ARTS-2 to fit the Airbus A380.
“This way Goldhofer offers a complete range of recovery equipment for all kinds of damaged aircraft, and sets international standards for the entire industry”.