Handling a pushback tug, also known as a pushback tractor, requires special training. Not only do you need to learn how to maneuver this unusually shaped vehicle, but also how to change driving styles once a plane is attached.
There are around 27,000 ramp accidents every year, and 243,000 people get injured during these accidents — leading to around $10 billion lost each year for major airlines.
Using an aircraft pushback simulator can protect your employees and save you money at the same time.
Why Training Matters When Handling a Pushback Tug
Many things can go wrong when someone doesn’t know how to handle a pushback tug properly. Training is essential to avoid severe injuries or damage to multi-million-dollar equipment when driving this vehicle.
Operating a Pushback Tug
Despite sometimes being referred to as a tractor, a pushback tug is vastly different than the average vehicle.
So is driving one. They’re short and squat so that they can fit under an airplane. They also have individual weight classes to reflect the aircraft’s weight. Each weight class will have a different feel, meaning a driver has to adjust their driving style accordingly.
Even though their height is short, they are still long and possibly awkward to maneuver without prior experience. This is because the “arms” attached to the tug’s cab reach around and hold the front tires of a plane.
Proper training for maneuvering these vehicles helps minimize the risk of injury or damage to aircraft.
Using an aircraft pushback simulator like our PushbackSim is the best way to get behind-the-wheel training without actually being behind the wheel. It replicates the same complex tasks drivers will face daily on the job.
Our simulators allow you to repeat scenarios and feature feedback tools to better instruct your new employees. We also have customized databases to emulate airport or gate layouts similar to what your employees will work with in real life.
You’ll be able to train new employees without using equipment or fuel, saving you significant money. Plus, your pushback tugs will be free to operate and make you money.
Multitasking While Handling a Pushback Tug
Another important factor when driving a pushback tug is the ability to multitask. Constant communication with the pilot and other ground employees is crucial for everyone’s safety.
Communication can happen through headsets, hand signals, or even simple honking. It depends on what each airline prefers.
If your drivers aren’t able to communicate while driving, they’ll be putting multiple people in danger. For example, once pre-departure checks are done, pilots double-check that they have enough clearance to move safely. If your driver doesn’t clearly state whether there is clearance while using the tug, it could cause injuries, and damage to the equipment.
It’s not just driving either — if your driver is operating the towbar and doesn’t respond to other ground support employees or pilots, it can cause problems.
Prevent Injuries Through Training
Being under a multi-ton airplane is not only intimidating — it’s dangerous. If pushback operators don’t secure the connection between the tug and the plane, people can be harmed when pilots release the brakes.
The pushback tug is the only thing stopping it from moving once the brake is removed. A mistake can mean the aircraft can start moving, hitting the tug, or running over a person. Common injuries pushback drivers experience involve getting crushed, run over, or losing a limb.
In 2022, a tug driver was lucky to survive his tug being crushed under an empty Boeing 737 plane after the connection to the tow arm was severed due to a quick turn while attempting to tow it to a new destination.
Stop Damage Due to Negligence
That 2022 accident also caused damage to the airplane, which is the next benefit of using a pushback training simulator. Damage to aircraft or pushback tugs can add up quickly.
Damage can happen in so many different ways. It could be due to poor maneuvering of the plane once attached to the tug. In the 2022 incident, the driver took too quick of a turn and the plane's weight caused the connection to snap.
Once an aircraft is attached to a pushback tug, the driving style has to change to compensate for the aircraft’s weight and size. If not, damage can happen to the plane or other nearby aircraft.
Stay Safe with L3Harris’ Pushback Tug Simulator
Handling a pushback tug is complicated. Using our driving simulator provides an immersive experience without any risk of damage to equipment or employees. You’ll save money by not using fuel, by preventing damage during training, and by allowing your experienced employees to work while you train.
Contact us to learn more about our aircraft pushback simulator today.