Tarmac Solutions Group – Your Future Tooling and GSE Partner / By Jason Reed
When most people look at aviation, they focus on the plane, the engines, parts, repairs, and overhaul. But have you ever stopped to look out the window of your flight and notice all the equipment sitting on the tarmac? Tugs, trucks, baggage carts, baggage loaders, deicing equipment, etc. And what about all the maintenance performed on the aircraft? It’s not just wrenches and screwdrivers in the aviation world; it’s a wide variety of bootstraps, jacks, lifts, etc. that keep that aircraft in the air. Ground Support Equipment (GSE) and Maintenance Tooling are critical elements that are necessary to support the operations of various aircraft flying worldwide. They are composed of a wide range of products that are custom designed and specific to unique applications and aircraft models by the aircraft manufacturers, system providers, and GSE manufacturers. They are used from the inception of the aircraft in design, manufacturing, maintenance, ground-based operations, and more. The use of inappropriate or unauthorized tools may contribute to aircraft or component failures, difficulties in maintenance operations, challenges with ground operations, unnecessary costs, and even leading to personnel injuries.
The Tarmac Solutions Group (TSG) is GA Telesis’ newest division, which will offer all of the Ground Support Equipment (GSE) and Tooling products and services to Aircraft Operators and MROs worldwide. TSG will integrate GA Telesis’ already existing solutions with its product offerings such as asset(s) management, financing, leasing, supply chain management, repair management, and exchange. But to give more detail on really what this hidden world of maintenance looks like, here’s a brief explanation.
GSE is the support equipment found at an airport, usually on the apron or the servicing area by the terminal. These large pieces of equipment service the aircraft between flights and, as the name suggests, are there to support the operations of aircraft while on the ground. The role of this equipment generally involves ground power operations, aircraft mobility, cargo/passenger loading operations, potable water storage, lavatory waste tank drainage, aircraft refueling, engine and fuselage examination and maintenance, and food and beverage catering.
Maintenance Tooling is “Task-Specific” designed for the particular Aircraft / Engine / Component / Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) maintenance tasks specifically identified in the aircraft’s maintenance manuals. They are usually smaller than GSE and identified by Part Number, Vendor, and Description. They are used for scheduled or unscheduled maintenance on components already removed from the airplane or “On-airplane” maintenance. “On-airplane” maintenance tools are useful during airplane servicing, airplane turnaround, line-station, hangar, and heavy maintenance. The tools also are used to remove and install sub-assemblies, engines, and components such as landing gear, flight controls, and auxiliary power units. Some tools test the various airplane systems, such as electrical, avionics, oxygen, among others or, for employee safety and protection of the airplane or its systems during maintenance.
Entry Into Service (EIS) is an important step in the introduction of a new airplane model into an operators’ fleet as they need to work with the OEM (i.e., Boeing, Airbus, etc.) to understand the different types and “specific” GSE and tooling required for the aircraft’s maintenance and operation. The operator should be able to select the needed GSE and tools based on their particular type of maintenance needs and operation. The selection usually starts 9 to 12 months before initial airplane delivery to acquire the specific GSE and tooling. This procurement process is especially important because of the total investment required.
For operators to maximize their fleets’ in-service reliability and profitability, they must select and procure GSE and tooling that are appropriate for their airplanes’ maintenance and operation.
Proper GSE and tool selection is driven by the operator’s maintenance type and level, such as the number of lines to be supported, the number of ramp operations, and the extent of component overhaul needed. For example, an operator that performs only aircraft turnarounds will require fewer tools than an airline that performs C-checks or heavy maintenance. All these criteria may also be compared to the level of tasks that will be contracted by the operator to other GSE and maintenance support service providers such as MROs and other airlines.
Component Maintenance Tools designed by system providers and partners assist in performing maintenance on airplane components already removed from the airplane, such as avionics, electrical, hydraulic, or wheel-tire-brake.
Standard Tooling are tools and equipment not exclusively used in the aviation industry (i.e., available commercially) and generally identified by the maintenance data by type and/or family and/or characteristics.
Tooling Inspection, Service, and Calibration are regulated by the aviation authorities, requiring the maintenance organization to ensure that “all tools, equipment and particularly test equipment, as appropriate, are controlled and calibrated according to an officially recognized standard at a frequency to ensure serviceability and accuracy”. To comply with this requirement, the maintenance organization shall identify any tooling in use and the related inspection/service/calibration needed.
Our goal has always been to keep our partners in the sky with the lowest maintenance costs and minimal downtime. But above all, safety is paramount, and we drive that mindset throughout our company day-in and day-out. Our new business will support your requirements for any maintenance task required and any tarmac-related equipment financing you may need. Call Tarmac Solutions today!