Considerations for Ground Support Equipment

A critical part of pre-trip planning is aircraft support equipment and supply considerations at the airport you will be landing at. When operating from remote or secondary/domestic airports, you may face supply restrictions or equipment shortages you would not encounter at larger airports. This checklist includes some of the most critical issues you should make sure you address before setting out.

1. Fuel availability: Always confirm that the type of aircraft fuel you need is available locally, and how that fuel is provided. Is it available from the hydrant, or by trucks? If by truck, how many are available on the airfield? In some cases, fuel has to be brought in from off airport, which increases lead times and the cost of refueling. At some locations fuel must be pumped straight from barrels, and at others is impossible to have fuel brought in.

2. Towbars: Many locations, including airports in India and Brazil, require operators to have a towbar onboard before they confirm aircraft parking. In other cases, you’ll need a towbar just to depart from an assigned parking stand. Not all fixed-base operators and ground handlers carry all towbar types, particularly for less common types of general aviation aircraft.

3. Airstairs, baggage loaders, and lifts: external stairs are often needed for large and widebody aircraft. In some places, the appropriate equipment is not available at the planned destination. You may need to arrange to bring in stairs from off airport, or in some cases, choose a different port to operate at. For some larger aircraft, the availability of baggage belt loaders and lifts for delivery are also a serious consideration. This equipment can be in limited supply at certain airports or due to peak hours of local commercial airline availability.

5. Oxygen availability: oxygen can be difficult to source at many destinations due to local airport or countrywide restrictions, as well as the capabilities of the ground handler’s storage. Particular restrictions may exist on replenishment of onboard oxygen box, and there may be liability issues in terms of suppliers.

6. Required additives: Fuel additives are not always available at all locations. Be sure to confirm in advance that they are available, or plan to bring some with you on your flight.

7. Cabin disinfectants: Some regions, such as India, Australia, and parts of Africa, require that the cabin be treated with an insecticide spray prior to landing. Typically, this means spraying the cabin at the top of descent or immediately upon landing, prior to opening the doors, then presenting the empty spray cans to the local airport authorities. These sprays can be difficult to source however and controlled or restricted at many locations.

8. Deicing fluids: For winter operations, it is important to confirm local availability of deice fluid and what types are available at the airport. Some local fluids may be corrosive to aircraft paint, and different airports use different methods for deicing. Some aircraft use “weeping wings” leading edge deicing systems and require replenishment as well.

9. Miscellaneous supplies: For larger aircraft, having ladders to put on engine covers or access engine cowlings is often a requirement. Depending on the aircraft, you may also need to bring along or locally source external headsets, as well as cleaning supplies, wheel chocks, and other equipment types.


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