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What Is The "DO NOT Touch?" Jetway Wheel?  
User currently offlineKELPkid From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 6833 posts, RR: 3
Posted (10 years 4 months 2 weeks 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 11088 times:

Okay, so I've been flying (or rather, paying someone else to fly me  Wink ) enough lately that something I've seen has picqued my curiosity.

When boarding the jet through the jetway, often as you board, if you look of to your right, there is a small plastic "wheel" that physically touches the aircraft fuselage, right about foot level, and says in bold letters "DO NOT TOUCH."

What is this, and why shouldn't I touch it? (Don't worry, I'd never try to in real life..that's what a.net forums are for!). Will the jetway, loaded with boarding pax, crash into the jet, or will I get electrocuted or something like that?  flamed 

Celebrating the birth of KELPkidJR on August 5, 2009 :-)
10 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineFriendlySkies From United States of America, joined Aug 2004, 4139 posts, RR: 5
Reply 1, posted (10 years 4 months 2 weeks 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 11072 times:

It's an autoleveler. It moves the jetway up and down as the plane sinks due to people boarding and luggage being loaded. Does the opposite for deplaning.

User currently offlineMSYtristar From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 2, posted (10 years 4 months 2 weeks 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 11068 times:

It is called the "auto leveler". It keeps the aircraft and the jetway at roughly the same level, since the plane gets heavier when it boards the passengers and lighter when they get off. If the leveler is not working, the jetway can raise up and damage the door of the aircraft. I've seen this happen and let's just say that it isn't pretty.

[Edited 2006-01-12 22:11:14]

User currently offlineCharlipr From Puerto Rico, joined Dec 2005, 340 posts, RR: 1
Reply 3, posted (10 years 4 months 2 weeks 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 11064 times:

That wheel detects the the up and down movement of the aircraft. When the aircraft is being loaded it moves down, so that wheel detects the down motion and lets the jetway move down with the aicraft. When the aircraft is being unloaded it moves up as it get lighter and the wheel will detect that and adjust the jetway as needed.

User currently offlineLincoln From United States of America, joined Nov 2004, 3887 posts, RR: 8
Reply 4, posted (10 years 4 months 2 weeks 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 11051 times:

Ahh... Very cool, I'd also noticed the wheel and wondered what it was for... Would have never thought about the need to compensate for the weight change.


CO Is My Airline of Choice || Baggage Claim is an airline's last chance to disappoint a customer || Next flts in profile
User currently offlineAirfoilsguy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 5, posted (10 years 4 months 2 weeks 2 days 2 hours ago) and read 11034 times:

One possible reason not to screw with the wheel  Smile

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Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Peter Berg

User currently offlinePVD757 From United States of America, joined Aug 2003, 3476 posts, RR: 16
Reply 6, posted (10 years 4 months 2 weeks 2 days 2 hours ago) and read 10962 times:


yeah that pretty much sums it up...

great pic BTW

User currently offlineAerospaceFan From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 7, posted (10 years 4 months 2 weeks 2 days ago) and read 10813 times:

Regarding the picture, I take it an order went out that day for a replacement front door, or (however unlikely) they had one on hand. They could hardly have flown it back to the manufacturer!

User currently offlineOttoPylit From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 8, posted (10 years 4 months 2 weeks 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 10712 times:

Quoting Lincoln (Reply 4):
Would have never thought about the need to compensate for the weight change.

You would also never think that there is always some fat-ass that gets off a flight and feels the need to slam his foot down when stepping out of the plane into the jetway. The sudden shift in weight from plane to jetway can sometimes "confuse" the auto-leveler from the small weight adjustments made and sets off the alarm. Before you know it, all the bells and whistles in the jetway are going off. It's usually the assholes whose asses are too big to sit in a regular coach seat anyway that are the ones to do it.

If your ever on a jetway that is not connected directly to an airplane(not sure why you would be, but just for argument sake), feel free to reach down and grab the wheel. You won't get cooties or electrocuted, and roll the wheel up or down. You will feel the jetway respond to the movement that you make on it.

I remember reading a story about TWA back around 1999 where, as a flight was boarding in STL, a 2 yr old holding on to his mom's hand found himself standing next to the wheel and couldn't resist the urge to play with it. The result? A cancelled flight when the jetway responded and sheered the door from the plane. TWA had to rebook all passengers on later flights, including mother and son who promised to carry the child on this time. TWA politely declined to make the mother pay for the door. Just goes to show, when it comes to aviation, "Don't touch anything your not supposed to!"  biggrin 


User currently offlineNotbluejet From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 108 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (10 years 4 months 2 weeks 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 10699 times:

I always thought they should have a shroud or something over that wheel....You would figure someone would be tempted to touch it or a child mistakely be attracted to it but i guess fear of the unknown reaction keeps people away.

User currently offlineJmhluv2fly From United States of America, joined Dec 1999, 559 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (10 years 4 months 2 weeks 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 10486 times:

One thing that is to be noticed when boarding a flight through the jetbridge in relation to the autoleveler, you should always find a small gap, about an inch or two between the airplane and the jetbridge bumper, likewise the top of the bumper on the bridge (for the airplanes I was familier working this being
AirTran DC-9/717 aircraft) should be placed about six inches or so below the doorway, there is shiny metel surface unpainted just below the door, the bumper should be placed at the very bottem of that shiny surface...
If the bridge bumper is too high and too close to the airplane bad bad things can happen, Ill give you an example.
On one occasion when I was with AirTran, three or four years ago, the station was preparing to work the originating flight of the day. A gate agent went out and pulled the bridge up to the airplane, the only problem was this person positioned the bridge too close the airplane, actually touching the skin of the aircraft, it was a full flight...as the flight boarded the airplane got heavier, much heavier and much like when you pile a bunch of people into a car it weighs down and sinks....but the bridge remained stationary and didnt move (The Autoleveler couldnt do its job by moving the bridge up and down), when the flight was to depart...the door could not be closed, the door hinges had been damaged..it was a mess....the Auto Leveler is a very good thing indeed.

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