Tom Allett provides a round-up of recent announcements from the tow-tractor market.
Schopf/Rofan Provide Small and Hybrid tractors
Specialist vehicle manufacturer Schopf Rofan is the only supplier to offer both standard hybrid and PowerHybrid tractor technologies, according to a statement from the company.
The German firm made the claim on February 7, in a statement detailing that electric, CNG, LPG, bio-diesel and – above all –hybrid drive technologies were available.
The manufacturer says its Rofan PowerHybrid tractors are designed with two factors in mind: speed, and the ability to tow baggage trolleys up long inclines. The vehicles are produced for 24/7 use, produce no emissions – important for indoor use – and give the same performance on the apron as its diesel tractors, it states. Schopf Rofan claims that customers who choose the vehicle gain: “A 30% higher efficiency in baggage handling – doing more work with fewer units and staff.”
Some of the company’s diesel tractors have recently been re-designed with its Rofan ZD 4 now offering nearly 50% more power to increase the productivity for what is described as: “only a slightly higher investment”. Also, wherever weather conditions or local legislation require the vehicles to be heavier for specific jobs, the Rofan ZDi can now be ballasted by up to eight tons.
JBT AeroTech presented its new Expediter 310 compact towbar-less pushback tractor at inter-airport Europe in October.
Designed to handle aircraft types from Airbus A320/Boeing 717 through to the Airbus A340/Boeing 777, the tractor’s cradle assembly securely locks itself around the aircraft’s nose landing gear. An on-tractor sensor detects the tyre size and automatically calculates the maximum force that can be applied when moving the aircraft. JBT says that this model’s tow speed is up to approximately 18mph (30km/h).
The first unit built is now in use with United Airlines at Los Angeles International Airport, and the second to be delivered went to FedEx at Memphis.
Another recent development is JBT’s redesigned mid-size B600 conventional aircraft tow-tractor, which is primarily aimed at the European market. The B600 is designed to handle aircraft up to the size of an Airbus A310/Boeing 767, and JBT says it: “provides a lower total cost of ownership with a design that provides excellent operator visibility, ability to tow a broad range of aircraft, low maintenance driveline components and a simple, but robust design for an extended useful life”. The first production vehicle was subsequently delivered to Servisair.
Douglas Equipment reports that the latter half of 2011 and the beginning of 2012 has produced good results for sales of its A380 capable TBL600s into Australia, Korea and China. The company says sales of its mid-range TBL280 have also been good with units sold into the USA, Russia, China and Australia. Orders for TBL180s and TBL200s have also been secured from China, Poland and Italy.
The manufacturer states that it has also seen an increase in sales of its range of conventional aircraft towing tractors: “particularly in the 25 tonne to 70 tonne range,” adding that the more notable sales were DC12-600s into China, Korea, UK and the Middle East.
Its mid-range DC10-44 Tugmaster – available in ballasted weights ranging from 25 to 43 tonnes with raise and lower forward cab, rear driving station and GPU platform – has secured orders from the Seychelles, Middle East, Korea, Africa and the UK. The example illustrated to the right was delivered to Moscow Sheremetyevo Airport in November 2011.
Douglas has embarked on a programme of upgrading all its models to enable the fitting of Tier 4 Interim Stage IIIB Exhaust Emissions-compliant engines for the EU and US countries where this is now a legal requirement. For those nations where the regulations do not apply, all tow-tractor models will still be available with the currently fitted Stage III/Tier 3 engines.
Alternative drivelines are also under development for selected models across the range of conventional and towbar-less tractors.