Dnata, the sole ground handling operator at
Dubai International Airport, has become the world’s first ground handler to
take delivery of an Airbus 380 compatible, towbarless aircraft pushback and
towing vehicle.The TBL600, manufactured by Douglas Equipment (UK) in collaboration with
Airbus and Dnata, is the first towbarless aircraft pushback and towing
vehicle designed to handle the Airbus 380 superjumbo aircraft, which could
weigh up to 600 tonnes when fully loaded.
In the vehicle’s development phase, Airbus set up A380 Towing Group Meetings
with ground support equipment (GSE) manufacturers, to specify the aircraft
dimensions around which equipment would be built. Douglas Equipment and
Dnata then worked closely to incorporate design changes to the new TBL600
for a more efficient and user-friendly machine, tapping on Dnata’s expertise
and experience in GSE operation and maintenance.
Said Tom Lewis, Senior Vice President Dnata Airport Operations: “Dubai
airport will soon be the biggest A380 hub in the world, with 23 gates
dedicated to the superjumbo aircraft at the new terminal currently under
construction. As sole ground handler at the airport, Dnata is working to
ensure that all ramp and airport services are in place to handle the A380.
We are also proud to have played a part in the development of TBL600, the
new A380 compatible aircraft pushback vehicle.”
Dubai is expected to receive its first A380 aircraft in 2006, when Emirates
Airline takes delivery of the first of its 45 superjumbos on order. By
2006, Dnata plan to have at least six A380 compatible pushback vehicles on
the ramp, complementing its existing fleet of 11 TBL400s - a smaller version
of the TBL600 which can handle aircraft sizes up to B747s.
The technologically advanced TBL600 towbarless tractor is powered by a
Cummins QSK19 water cooled engine that can produce the 750 brake horse power
required to handle the additional weight of the new A380 aircraft. It also
incorporates an automatic four-wheel drive system specifically designed for
A380 operations, while fully capable of handling all aircraft sizes ranging
from the Boeing 767 to the larger Airbus 340s and Boeing 747s.
The TBL600 vehicle is also fitted with the latest electronic “CAN-Bus”
technology which controls all operational functions of the vehicle including
the engine, transmission, steering and nose-wheel cradle system. Its
automatic governing on the fuel system ensures perfect speed control and
therefore smooth pushback and tow capability at all times. Douglas
Equipment have already completed the training of Dnata’s operators and
technical staff, who have undergone strenuous testing and performed
flawlessly from the very first operation.
Until the first A380 arrives in Dubai, Dnata’s new TBL600 is being put to
work on day-to-day operations including pushback for the Boeing 747 and
maintenance towing operations over long distances with the A340-500.