An airport is like a continuously shifting puzzle where all the pieces – whether carrying passengers, products or providing services – need to always be at the right place at the right time. That’s why a host of special vehicles is needed to keep the airport running smoothly. Here are four of them:
1. Pushback truck
As it is not safe to reverse planes on the apron, a special vehicle called a pushback tractor is used to move them around, for instance from a stand or gate to taxiway or different parts of the apron.
At Helsinki Airport, there are several different ground handling companies operating pushbacks. With their low design, pushbacks are able to fit under the nose of a plane, grab a hold of the aircraft and push it to the right place. The most powerful pushbacks can move a fully loaded wide-body aircraft that weighs several hundred tons.
Some of the pushbacks at Helsinki Airport run on electric power. In 2016, ground services company Airpro acquired four fully electrically-powered pushbacks and one hybrid model. The electric pushbacks can do all the same tasks as the traditional diesel models, but produce only a tenth of the climate emissions.
2. Customer service electric car, Lefa
Finavia’s customer service car is a Nissan Leaf electric car known to staff members as Lefa. With its 24 kWh lithuim-ion batteries, Lefa can drive around 117 kilometers a day. Lefa has a dedicated charging station, but can also use one of Helsinki Airport’s several public charging stations for electric cars.
As Lefa is a fully electric car, it produces no direct climate emissions. The electric motor captures energy when braking and driving and returns it into the battery.
Lefa also has its own mobile app that can be used to control the temperature inside. The car is 95% recyclable and a fifth of the materials used are recycled – for instance, the textile seat covers are made partly of plastic bottles.
3. Rescue vehicle
Finavia has its own fire department and rescue service at Helsinki Airport and has several different rescue vehicles in use.
The vehicles are mostly owned by Finavia and operated by the firefighters. The rescue station usually has a few fire alarms or other rescue calls per day.
The rescue vehicles, which are about 3.5 meters high and weigh 33 tons, can shoot 5,000 liters of water or foam per minute from the water gun on the roof. The jet can reach targets 70 meters away. The underside of the vehicle is designed so that it is able to drive at high speeds through the airport platform, even on the lawn between runways.
4. The VIP luxury Audi
The VIP Audi is used to transport important guests at the airport, usually from the plane to the VIP facilities and back. It’s a stylish way to escort visitors to the aircraft, and usually this car is reserved for the most important guests. Larger groups will usually take the regular apron buses. The Audi is driven by VIP services staff members, who need a special license to be able to maneuver it on the apron.
The VIP Audi is a 2017 diesel A8 Quattro model, which has a 285 horsepower motor. The black luxury vehicle has adjustable seats in the back, a panoramic ceiling, a surround sound system for music and a night vision assistance feature.
Article photo: Airpro