State of the ARTS

Goldhofer’s ARTS 2-X is now in service at Frankfurt Main. (Goldhofer)

Frankfurt Main, home of Lufthansa’s first Airbus A380, has taken delivery of Goldhofer’s new ARTS-2 X recovery system.  Tom Allett reports.

Goldhofer’s ARTS 2-X is now in service at Frankfurt Main. (Goldhofer)

Every major airport in the world is vulnerable to its operations being disrupted by a disabled aircraft on the runway and the bigger the airframe, the bigger the potential problem.  Frankfurt has just become the home to Lufthansa’s first giant Airbus A380; the first of 15 on order for the German national carrier, which was officially handed over on May 19.
While the chances of having one of these huge airliners marooned on the airfield are obviously small, every leading international gateway must ensure it has the right tools available to recover one of these machines should the need arise.  Experience tells us that the costs associated with this type of event can quickly run into millions, so having the necessary equipment to deal with such a scenario is a comforting ‘insurance policy’.
Frankfurt Main is the launch customer for the new solution provided by Germany’s Goldhofer AG, based in Memmingen.  Goldhofer is best known for manufacturing a significant percentage of the world’s aircraft tow-tractors and specializes in the towbar-less (TLT) versions.  It has also provided aircraft recovery systems for many years and delivered around 110 of them.  Its latest product is called the ARTS-2 X (Aircraft Recovery Transport System) and is the ‘big brother’ of its predecessors, designed to quickly remove damaged or defective aircraft up to the size of the Airbus A380 from airport taxiways.  It is the first such recovery vehicle specifically designed to cope with the giant double-decker airliner.
Goldhofer’s Chairman, Stefan Fuchs told Airports International: “Due to our extensive experience acquired during numerous successfully executed aircraft recovery operations since 1988, we know what the equipment is required to do in the event of an accident.  Over a period of three years we have applied our know-how to the development of the new ARTS-2 X recovery system.”
Mr Fuchs describes the ARTS-2 X as a: “quantum leap”, adding that thanks to its recovery potential: “the concept constitutes a milestone in aircraft recovery for all aircraft.  The system thereby caters for the complete palette of civil aircraft; even a damaged A380 with one or more defective landing gear sets no longer posses a particular problem to us.”
Goldhofer explains that the 93ft 6in (28.5m) long ARTS-2 X comprises three hydraulic chassis units, which can be arranged in a modular fashion, or used individually, dependent on the relevant situation and conditions.
It states that the ARTS-2 X combines the advantages of its previous recovery systems (ARTS 1, 2, 3 and 5) with new features.  The payload of the bolster has been increased to 50 tons and it can now transport aircraft with fuselage diameters of up to 44ft (13.5m).  The additional five-axle split of the standard heavy-duty module increases the payload of the wing lift tables to 170 tons each.  The 120-ton recovery system can be towed into position by a heavy goods vehicle or an aircraft tow tractor acting as a tug vehicle, though there is an option for customers wanting a self-driven model.  The ARTS-2 X’s computer-controlled multi-way steering offers remarkable maneuverability for a vehicle of its size, enabling normal, diagonal, transverse or carrousel steering.
All application modules are designed to be transported over long distances in Boeing 747 size cargo aircraft.  Goldhofer says once on site, the ARTS-2 X is quickly ready for use thanks to its uncomplicated assembly, and standard rubber tyres are provided to avoid damaging the taxiway.
Mr Fuchs concluded: “With our system, a safe transportation and recovery of aircraft is guaranteed, and it has proven itself in aircraft recovery operations around the world.  The modular design ensures mobility; one can therefore use the system at every airport.” Maintenance
Goldhofer says that even if its recovery system is not required for an extended period of time it will still only require a minor amount of maintenance work to be carried out and its modules can be stored: “with convenience and ease”.  According to Fuchs, there is an added bonus:  “The ability to react immediately is becoming increasingly vital in the event of accidents.  At airports with a high frequency of flights in particular, it must be possible to free up taxiways in a prompt and reliable manner in transportation on public roads at a recommended speed of up to [50mph] 80km/h in order to guarantee maximum capacity utilization.”