Tow Tractors

Japanese carriers ANA and NCA operate the world’s largest fleet of Goldhofer AST-1 X series tow-tractors. (Goldhofer)

Tom Allett presents a round-up of recent tow-tractor news.
Douglas Equipment
Mike Doane, Sales Director for Douglas Equipment told Airports International: “Last year, 2010, was a reasonable year following a very poor 2009.
“The later half of 2010 was particularly good and we have begun 2011 with a strong order book.  Demand has been for both towbar-less and conventional tractors with orders being secured from around the world.
“Orders for towbar-less tractors have come from China, Korea, Italy, Cyprus, USA and North Africa.  Meanwhile, orders for conventional vehicles have been secured from the UK, Middle East, North Africa, China, Korea, Egypt, Russia and Nigeria.

Top: The Douglas DC5-42 is the latest addition to the company’s wide range of tractors. (Douglas)

“The majority of orders received have been for medium to large size conventional and towbar-less tractors.  Particularly good sellers have been Douglas TBL 280 and TBL 180 towbar-less tractors and DC10-44, DC12-44-400 and DC12-600s.
“We have also secured orders the A380 capable TBL 600 towbar-less and Boeing 747 capable TBL 400 towbar-less tractors,” he explained.
Last year the company launched its Douglas Tugmaster type DC5-42, which is a four-wheel drive, two-wheel steer, conventional tractor.  Available in six- or seven-tonne versions, it is designed to handle regional aircraft types with maximum ramp weights of up to 50 tonnes.  The first delivery was to a Cairo-based customer, and Mr Doane says that further orders have since been secured for the DC5-42.
Looking forward, Mr Doane said: “We are now engaged in programme updating all our tractors to incorporate Stage 3B/Tier 4 Interim exhaust emissions compliant engines.  Models currently available with fully compliant Stage 3B/Tier 4 Interim engines include the TBL 280 towbar-less tractors and DC10-44 conventional type.
“Over the coming months all models of tractor in our towbar-less and conventional tractor ranges that have to be Stage 3B/Tier 4 interim exhaust emissions compliant to meet European and North American regulations will be updated.
DC5-42 Specification
Detailed Technical Specification: – NS 1769 Issue 2

  • Cummins QSB 3.3 water cooled diesel engine

rated at 74kW (99bhp)

  • Clark 12000 series powershift transmission

with 3-speed forward & reverse gearbox.

  • Rear axle disconnect system.
  • Fully-enclosed sound-insulated full width, fixed,

forward control cab.

  • Full instrumentation
  • Adjustable suspension seat for driver and for

one crew member.

  • Windscreen wiper/washers for the front screen.
  • Rear view mirrors on both sides of the tractor.
  • Right hand drive or left hand drive.
  • Power-assisted orbitrol hydrostatic steering


  • Front axle – two-wheel steering.
  • Four-wheel drive [4 x 4].
  • Heater/demister system
  • Ballasted to: 6,000kg.
  • Options: 7,000kg.
  • Multi-position towing pintles front and rear

(Tow pin diameter 50 mm nominal)

  • Full instrumentation including hour meter.
  • Full highway type lighting – 24 volt electrics.
  • 205/65 R17.5 single wheels and tyres at the

front and rear.

  • Finish painted in single colour or customer’s


  • Maximum tractive effort – 47.07kN (10,580lbf)

for 6,000kg tractor.

  • 54.92kN (12,350lbf) for 7,000kg tractor.
  • Maximum solo speed – 20mph (32km/h).
  • Operator, spare parts and workshop manuals, in

English language.

Japanese carriers ANA and NCA operate the world’s largest fleet of Goldhofer AST-1 X series tow-tractors. (Goldhofer)

Goldhofer’s Marketing Director Erich Traub explained that in 2010 the company secured orders for an additional three Airbus A380-capable tow-tractors, the AST-1 X 490, from Japanese customers ANA and NCA.  With a total of four units in use ANA/NCA is now the world’s largest operator of Goldhofer’s AST-1 X series, taking the fleet to nine tractors. Goldhofer says that the AST-1 X 490, equipped with a fuel-saving 490hp DEUTZ engine, combined with an hydrostatic four-wheel drive system, is used for the pushback and maintenance towing operations of wide-body aircraft at Tokyo’s Haneda and Narita airports.  Mr Traub said that in total, “more than 15 AST-1 X units have been sold worldwide, making Goldhofer the largest supplier of high-speed A380 tractors.”
Schopf has announced the launch of its F 210 tractor, capable of handling aircraft with a maximum take-off weight of up to 320 tons.  The company says that the new vehicle “has been a very good success for SCHOPF and a number of orders have been received from Far East and Middle East”.
The F 210 is the latest addition to SCHOPF’s product line. (SCHOPF)

Referring to the company’s heaviest tractor, the F396, spokesman Dr Brűggermann added: “The heavy version of the F 396 is capable of handling all wide body aircraft flying today and over 90 units have already been sold worldwide.  The latest orders for the F 396 have been received from Hong Kong, Singapore, India, Korea and Europe.
He also noted that: “Increasing Numbers of ground handlers are choosing conventional tractors in preference to other systems because of their much lower operating and total ownership costs.
“Furthermore, much higher reliability and availability is being delivered by conventional towbar tractors and the lower cost of their lifetime repairs and overhauls fit into today’s highly cost conscious industry”.
SCHOPF says that within its class, its F 100 tractor is the best selling unit in the world.  The company says the F 100 is now available in a full battery-driven version.  It claims that in a number of tests at airports throughout Europe, over 30 pushbacks have been made without having to re-charge the batteries.  The company says that feedback about the battery-powered machine has been very positive and that: “drivers and pilots alike were won over by the gentle starts and acceleration during pushbacks.”
SCHOPF has also announced that it has received “an order from a military organisation to design an aircraft tow tractor for aircraft carriers,” though no further details are yet available.