What Is Ground Support Equipment?GSE is the machinery and equipment used to service aircraft between flights. Essentially, GSE provides support for an aircraft's operations while the craft is on the ground. In most instances, once a plane has landed, GSE assists with everything from the aircraft’s mobility and power needs to the transportation of passengers and cargo. Since GSE casts such a wide net regarding service, it supports an aircraft the moment it reaches the ground and continues that support until the aircraft takes off for its next flight.
Across all applications of GSE, safety, speed and accuracy are of the greatest importance. Of course, GSE manufacturers must meet rigorous design and materials standards to ensure their aircraft equipment is both robust and reliable enough for safe and effective operation — even during peak times. The broad term GSE includes everything from gangways and service stairs to baggage loaders and refuelers. Further categorization applies to non-powered GSE — like wheel chocks, cargo dollies and tail tripods — and powered examples such as belt loaders, pushback tugs and ground power units.
Why Is GSE Important?GSE can help accomplish a vast range of ground service and cabin service tasks that are vital for safety, equipment performance and the comfort of passengers and crew. While GSE is often necessary to get the job done, the type of equipment you have also plays a significant role in ensuring safe and smooth operations. With the right GSE, you can ensure:
- More efficient operations: From maintenance stands that are hard to reposition to a belt loader that doesn't move at the right speed, many aspects can affect whether your GSE helps or hurts operations. GSE is a vital component of how crews and maintenance teams work, and greater efficiency here translates to fewer delays and a more profitable business.
- Safer environments: Having reliable, quality equipment is necessary for the safety of crews, maintenance teams and passengers. GSE can add fall protection for people working at heights and create dependable support structures to lessen the risk of injury or workplace safety violations and the ramifications that come with them.
- Equipment dependability: As with many products, poor quality often ends up costing you more in the long run and can cause unexpected failures. With GSE playing such an important part in flight preparation, this equipment needs to be reliable.
Types of Ground Support EquipmentWith all of GSE's uses, there are many different kinds of equipment for various tasks. You can find GSE assisting with performing aircraft maintenance, loading and unloading luggage, refilling water tanks, handling waste and providing power to parked aircraft. With the many roles GSE plays, it's crucial to understand the main types of equipment employed to support aircraft to ensure your airport has everything it needs to provide high-quality service. Check out some primary kinds of GSE used at airports below.
Non-Powered Ground Support Equipment TypesAs the name implies, non-powered GSE generally doesn't need a power source. They include:
- Dollies: Aircraft dollies, sometimes referred to as baggage carts, are used by crews to transport cargo cartons, mail bags and loose baggage around an airport. Typically, you'll find them in the airport's sorting facility or terminal to assist with these tasks.
- Ladders: Aircraft ladders help maintenance professionals conduct repairs and inspections on an aircraft. You can find them in several configurations, such as A-frame, wheel well and de-icing ladders.
- Aircraft maintenance stands: Aircraft maintenance stands come with a raised platform for maintenance professionals to perform inspections and repairs on. These stands usually feature wheels for easy positioning and steps to reach the platform. Aircraft maintenance stands are especially popular because they provide a secure area for workers to stand on while doing their tasks. Plus, they also have more fall protection than a traditional ladder, which reduces the possibility of injuries or accidents.
- Carts and Dollies: Military and DOD (GSA) processes have broad requirements for material handling solutions. Military materials and equipment needing maneuvering may include: heavy equipment, helicopters, trailers, and various materials, most of which require a trailered load.
- Cowling Racks: Our cowling racks are designed to store a variety of aviation components, tools and accessories, JSI offers cowling and parts racks that assist with the storage of miscellaneous items.
- Engine Stands: Engine stands are used to support an engine so that it can be repaired and examined outside a vehicle. JSI’s engine stands are manufactured to the same superior standards that JSI is known for.
- Blade Racks: JSI's blade racks are engineered to withstand rigorous use. They are lightweight, mobile and highly customizable. Available in fixed and adjustable-length configurations.
- Ammunition and Battle Trailers: JSI's Ammunition and battle trailers provide an extremely stable platform to transport MLRS pods and other cargo across the battlespace, ensuring the military is mission ready, mission capable.
- Canopies: Our height-adjustable canopies provide mechanics the protection of shade while they perform routine maintenance on the flight line. JSI's design is lightweight allowing for easy maneuverability by hand or tug, yet strong enough to withstand the rigors of everyday operation.
Powered Ground Support Equipment TypesPowered machinery can greatly expand the capabilities of GSE. Some examples of powered GSE include:
- Pushback tractors: Some of the most powerful pieces of GSE are pushback tractors. These machines are used at the disembarking stage to push airplanes away from the gate. Occasionally, they're also used to tow aircraft to key locations, like an airport hangar. You can find pushback tractors in various sizes for your relevant applications.
- Container loaders: Container loaders help unload and load cargo. They operate as quickly and efficiently as possible to meet strict aircraft schedules. A container loader utilizes a raisable platform and has wheels under it to help pick up and move pallets.
- Luggage tugs: When equipment can't move on its own, crews rely on luggage tugs to help transport equipment from one location to another. This kind of GSE attaches to the immobile piece of equipment and tugs it along until it reaches a needed location.
- Passenger boarding steps: Boarding steps provide an easy pathway for passengers to enter the aircraft. They're typically mounted on a truck with adjustable heights, safety panels along the sides and lighting systems for nighttime use.
- Potable water trucks: Airplanes and helicopters need drinkable, safe water every time they go into the air. A potable water truck provides just that. After the water goes through the filtration process, it's placed in containers on these vehicles where it's safe from contaminants and other dangers. Once an aircraft lands and needs refilling, the water truck utilizes a pump to transport the water into the aircraft's water container.
- Lavatory trucks: Another critical type of GSE are lavatory trucks. These trucks empty and refill lavatories on the aircraft. Since flights can generate a great deal of waste, the trucks are critical to removing that waste. Lavatory trucks employ a mixture of disinfectant and water while refilling tanks. You can find the trucks in smaller varieties, such as carts, and larger sizes, such as self-powered trucks.
- Belt loaders: When a crew needs to load or unload baggage or other types of cargo that don't come in containers, they use belt loaders. These pieces of GSE equipment utilize conveyor belts to transport materials to and from the aircraft. Belt loaders are placed by the baggage compartment's door to assist during loading and unloading.
- Air start units: An air start unit is a power source that assists with an aircraft's initial rotation. They help gas turbine and large diesel engines perform their initial rotation more efficiently. These units utilize hoses attached to the aircraft's underbelly to provide the needed amount of air at the right pressure.
- Ground power units: When an aircraft is parked, it often relies on a ground power unit to supply it with power. Sometimes, these power units are built directly into the jetway, making it much easier to provide power to landed aircraft.
- Air conditioning unit: While an aircraft is parked for ground handling and maintenance tasks, an aircraft conditioning unit is a must-have. These units send hot or cold air into the aircraft, keeping workers comfortable as they conduct their tasks. They rely on auxiliary power unit (APU) pneumatic air or aircraft engine bleed air to provide the needed air conditioning.
Uses of Ground Support EquipmentGenerally, GSE doesn't assist with flying the aircraft. Instead, it often helps with cabin services to ensure passengers are safe and comfortable. Cabin services often involve replacing onboard consumables, like magazines, tissues, blankets, pillows and soap, while staff clean the cabin. Besides cabin services, airport GSE often assists with aircraft refueling, inspections, engine and fuselage maintenance, cargo unloading and loading, waste tank drainage, potable water replenishment and catering services.
Additionally, you can find GSE providing conditioned air and electric power throughout the gate operations periods to keep passengers and crew comfortable. You can also see GSE vehicles helping with security checks to ensure no threats enter the aircraft, which keeps the crew and passengers safe from harm. From enclosed cargo dollies and ladders to mobile air conditioning units and tractors, there simply isn’t anything an aircraft needs once it’s on the ground that isn’t made possible with the help of specialized GSE.
Uses of Aircraft Maintenance StandsAt JETechnology Solutions, we serve both the commercial and military sectors with our high-quality aircraft maintenance stands. Many companies in these industries trust our maintenance stands, as all our aircraft GSE complies with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Air Force Office of Safety and Health (AFOSH) standards. Alongside our strict adherence to safety standards, we carry a wide selection of maintenance stands for particular aircraft types and customized solutions. At our 47,000-square-foot facility in Apopka, FL, we produce aviation ground support equipment — particularly aircraft maintenance stands, for the following sectors:
1. Commercial Ground Support EquipmentWe offer several kinds of GSE for commercial airlines. Our commercial aircraft maintenance stands and other pieces of equipment meet high-quality safety standards to ensure your crew and passengers are as safe as possible every flight. Our commercial maintenance platforms include several models, which we can manufacture for the Boeing, Bombardier, Airbus and Embraer aircraft families. We also design stands for Robinson helicopters, as well as the DC-10 and Gulfstream G650.
Additionally, we do custom work for additional aircraft. With the many different types of aircraft maintenance stands for planes and helicopters, you can trust us to provide your commercial fleet with the right stands. Your crews can use our maintenance stands to perform inspections and repairs. Our cargo bay access stands are perfect for when you need to do work in the cargo bay. By investing in our platforms, you'll be better prepared to keep your fleet maintained throughout the year.
2. Military Ground Support EquipmentWith a reputation as a trusted partner of the U.S. military, we’re knowledgeable about engineering military aircraft GSE that prioritizes safety. We produce more than 15 different stands for various military aircraft, including the UH-60, F-22, V-22, RC-135, MH-60T, RQ4, AH-64, C-130 and more. Due to the many stands we offer, we can serve any branch of the military, providing them with the best GSE for their needs. Those in the military sector can find our military aircraft maintenance stands for fixed- and rotary-winged aircraft.
Alongside the safety certifications and standards all of our GSE follows, we're also Traffic in Arms Regulations compliant. All of our stands are 100% American-made, including everything from the labor to materials. Buyers can select stands in several configurations, sizes and weight capacities to ensure crews have the needed platforms to perform their work safely and efficiently.
3. Custom Ground Support Equipment for BusinessesWe also design aviation platforms for companies and corporations across the globe. Our custom GSE designs feature several safety features, such as durable handrails and anti-skid surfaces to prevent trips, falls and injuries. We're proud to provide customizable turnkey solutions, which can slide right into a company's processes and be used by a team immediately. The customizability of these aircraft maintenance stands means buyers can outfit their fleet with an appropriate stand, no matter their needs.
After a company provides us with their specifications for a stand, we'll build it out of the highest-quality materials. As a result, companies ensure their crews have the right stand backing them for all maintenance, repair and operations situations. A great advantage of choosing one of our custom solutions is that they arrive completely ready-to-use, with no extra steps required.
If you select a custom solution, you'll likely want to consider a few main factors that go into producing maintenance stands. For example, environmental concerns, such as installation restrictions and work area size, can determine the stand's size. Additionally, accounting for load capacity, people per platform, stand material and the railings is crucial to producing a safe platform. You'll also want to consider compatibility, such as whether the stand can be attached to larger platforms.
Benefits of Working With JETechnology SolutionsAt JETechnology Solutions, we are proud to serve our clients with top-quality GSE equipment. Our quality assurance, manufacturing ability, design practices and delivery services make us stand out from the competition. Check out some of the following primary benefits of working with us:
- Quality assurance: At JETechnology Solutions, we adhere to ISO 9001:2015 certification principles with every piece of GSE we create. To ensure you get a high-quality product meeting your needs, we ask you several questions to understand your requirements and gather crucial information. Before we begin manufacturing your equipment, we'll run it through pre-production meetings, risk assessment analyses, in-process checks and mitigation planning strategies. Additionally, we only use suppliers that meet the highest standards, and we utilize full traceability for quality assurance.
- Design and engineering: Our design and engineering team follows a detailed process to produce the best GSE for you. Our team reviews your solicitation, request for proposal and statement of work to ensure the equipment will meet your unique requirements and budgetary needs. Many of our designs also go through a Finite Element Analysis via our Solidworks Simulation software. We also place our GSE through fatigue and drop tests, as well as heat transfer and fluid flow analyses.
- Rigorous manufacturing requirements: Once we've designed your GSE, our manufacturing processes ensure we meet your design requirements. Our Quality Assurance team monitors our welders, machinists and fabricators while they go about procedures and processes to ensure they meet ISO 9001:2015 certification quality standards.
- Fast and safe delivery: To get our clients their GSE quickly and safely, we evaluate packaging requirements and the most effective transportation methods. Since we do this evaluation before manufacturing, we lower scheduling risks and are prepared to get your equipment to you on time.
Need GSE? Contact Us TodayAfter seeing all the benefits of working with JETechnology Solutions, you'll likely want to reach out to us to see the kinds of aircraft maintenance stands available to you. We put our 75 years of combined service to the aviation industry behind every all-American piece of ground support equipment we make.
When it comes to quality control and industry know-how, our ISO 9001: 2015-compliant quality system testifies to our commitment to provide the best products and services we possibly can. Take a moment to browse our selection of aircraft maintenance platforms. If you have any questions or need a custom solution, contact us today.