High quality tow bars are rarely considered important by aircraft towing and maintenance personnel. The same goes for purchasing agents as there isn’t any other piece of equipment that is this price sensitive.
The significance of a small piece of equipment that secures and halts a $50 million jet almost often seems to escape the minds of many in the airline industry. But that is only of course until it is too late.
If you carefully assess tow bars across practically thousands of ramps, you will realize that many of them are way past their prime. Most of them should have retired ages ago and replaced with new ones. This is a significant problem as maintenance of the only piece of equipment that secures a jet in place is pivotal.
Carful preventive maintenance checks should never be ignored on tow bars.
As with anything else in practically industry, tow bars are subject to damage and gradually wear off with time. But when do you really replace it? The answer is, it depends on the applications.
Tow bars used in private hangars are subject to lesser use and therefore wear off less frequently. On the other hand, tow bars used in airport terminals are used almost every other hour and require frequent inspections to identify any signs of wear before it is too late.
Using basic knowledge while assessing past equipment repair schedules along with the frequency of use, you can address tow bar condition and take the necessary steps.
Preventive Maintenance Procedures
When the tow bar is operational and in use, make sure that you follow these basic preventive maintenance procedures regularly:
- Make sure that tow bar is straight. Check for signs of broken welded seams, cracks and inspect the entire unit for any signs of damage.
- Inspect the wheels, running gear and axle of the aircraft to identify any damage.
- Inspect the lunette ring and check the lunette assembly.
- Inspect the shear pins for damage. Replace these pins if they are bent or broken. Always replace shear pins if they are missing immediately.
- Inspect the head end of the tow bar and ensure that it is in shape and clean.
- Ensure that lanyards securely attach ball lock pins to the tow bar.
If during any of these PM checks you feel that the tow bar needs to be replaced, do it immediately. It will only cost a fraction of a dollar per day to the average airline operator.