11 July 2018

A Guide to Ground Support Equipment



Ground support equipment forms an integral part for any aviation setting around the world. Many people are drawn to the technological prowess that comes with compelling aircraft, but without effective equipment on the ground, these models lose a large proportion of their functionality.

Here at GSE Solutions, we have provided the aviation industry with a wide range of ground support equipment for over 25-years. In that time, we have gained an unparalleled amount of knowledge and expertise that will be shared throughout this guide.

A brief history  

Ground support equipment dates back to the early 18th century, but it wasn’t until the height of World War II that the industry started to take flight. This period oversaw increasing demands from Allied militaries, especially the US Army, which increased its aircraft fleet from 3,600 to 300,000 in just six years.

This created the first marketing opportunity for companies to get their designs into circulation. Among the many beneficiaries were Stewart & Stevenson, who supplied ordnance loaders to the US military, and FMC (Food Machinery Corp.) who designed and constructed landing craft.

The next watershed moment wasn’t until 1969, when Eagle Tugs introduced the world to the Bob Tail Tow Tractor. This design is still the best and only choice for sturdy and effective towing in the present day. 


What is Ground Support Equipment?  

Ground support equipment is needed to maneuver equipment found in the servicing area of aviation environments. They are the tools in which trailers can be towed, luggage can be transported and planes can be re-fueled.  

For more information about any ground support equipment, check out the GSE Solutions website – www.gsesolutions.eu


Here are the most common pieces of the Ground Support Equipment

Tow Tractors


Both military and domestic applications will require a strong and reliable tractor for effective maneuvering. There is a multitude of both large-scale and low-profile designs to adhere to a selection of aviation tasks.  

The most significant model is the Bob Tail Tow Tractor. This design uses an ergonomic Ford Super Duty F-350 chassis and runs on a Ford V-8 engine to ensure equipment as heavy as 95,000 lbs can be towed with ease.

Ground Power Units





These models can power and start up aircraft from the ground. They are more commonly referred to as GPU’s and run on either electric power, battery power or a combination of both. There are certain models that can produce up to 5200 amps, using a voltage of 30.3V DC. 

Passenger Access




This is an especially vital component for commercial airlines, since they provide a safe method of entering and exiting aircraft. Some of the more prominent designs can reach heights of up to 161” and use standing platforms with a weight capacity of around 1,000 lbs.

Baggage & Cargo Carts  




This enables people’s luggage to be transported around airports both safely and methodically. Closed baggage carts are the most recognizable design, with certain models able to carry up to 8000 lbs of luggage.

State of play

According to prnswsire.com, the aviation industry will reach £18.2 billion by 2022. This has largely been attributed to the increasing demands for both electric and hybrid designs.

As of July 2017, the breakdown of the primary participants in ground support equipment were as follows:

Asia-Pacific – 46%
North America – 27%
Europe – 18%
Rest of the world – 9%

This article was written by David Newman. David is the Director of UK Magento Web Design Agency Ad Lab.



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