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Why Do Tugs Pull Aircraft To The Gate In The US?  
User currently offlineCamohe From Australia, joined Oct 2006, 48 posts, RR: 0
Posted (2 years 11 months 2 weeks 16 hours ago) and read 9508 times:

From my observation...

When arriving in the US on an international flight the aircraft stops some metres before it reaches the gate. The engines are shut-down and a tug is used to pull the aircraft the final distance to the gate.

I'm hoping someone can give me the reason for this. I have only experienced this on international flights arriving in the US, not US domestic flights, and I have never experienced it on any flight in Europe, Asia, Australia etc (usually planes arrive under their own power). Is it something to do with the terminal design at LAX, JFK etc?

13 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineBMI727 From United States of America, joined Feb 2009, 15719 posts, RR: 26
Reply 1, posted (2 years 11 months 2 weeks 16 hours ago) and read 9486 times:

Quoting Camohe (Thread starter):
Is it something to do with the terminal design at LAX, JFK etc?

Yes. Certain gates are situated in close quarters and necessitate using a tug to bring the planes in to avoid excessive risk of damage.

LAX and JFK both happen to be older airports with some designs that are small by modern standards and international flights tend to be flown on the largest planes, necessitating the practice.



Why do Aerospace Engineering students have to turn things in on time?
User currently offlinebeeweel15 From United States of America, joined Nov 2003, 1741 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (2 years 11 months 2 weeks 12 hours ago) and read 8896 times:

Quoting BMI727 (Reply 1):
Quoting Camohe (Thread starter):
Is it something to do with the terminal design at LAX, JFK etc?

Yes. Certain gates are situated in close quarters and necessitate using a tug to bring the planes in to avoid excessive risk of damage.

While i cant speak for LAX over the years at JFK I can tell you at JFK there are some tight areas like between T1 and T2 especially where aircraft have to turn to Gate 4 at T1. Then between T7 and former T6 especially when making the turn into Gate 10 at T7. These areas you have to enter the ramp area with enough momentum so you don't have to power up to make the turn to the gate. T3 on the other hand has electronic parking guides cant remember if automatic or manual but if inop they will stop the a/c just away from the gate and tow in in the rest of the way. T4 most times it is due to construction on the ramp and gate areas. Like wise at the other terminals also when there is construction also these is greater risk of FOD


User currently onlinen901wa From United States of America, joined Oct 2009, 454 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (2 years 11 months 2 weeks 10 hours ago) and read 8633 times:

From my experince at LAX, it is because the Alleyways are narrow. The north side is wider, but the south side is tighter. It is for safety reasons, room at the gate, and Jet Blast behind. They do let some Aircraft idle into the gate like a MD80. I have seen Bag Carts and can's blown over or pushed into equipment and acft. I have been blown around on a lift truck from jet blast while changing a APU. The worst was when I had just opened a 757 cowl, and a MD-80 behind me pulled power to get on the gate, pulling the cowl out of my hand and I just got out of the way as it slamed down. Woke me up.

User currently offlineZkpilot From New Zealand, joined Mar 2006, 4805 posts, RR: 9
Reply 4, posted (2 years 11 months 2 weeks 8 hours ago) and read 8562 times:

Most of the gates were designed a long time ago for smaller aircraft.
The surrounds are quite tight especially for larger aircraft so it is just safer to tow them in.



56 types. 38 countries. 24 airlines.
User currently offlineflymia From United States of America, joined Jun 2001, 7123 posts, RR: 9
Reply 5, posted (2 years 11 months 2 weeks 6 hours ago) and read 8487 times:

Yea I have had this happen at LAX a few times on international and domestic flights it is purely the design of the airport. Most airports and most gates at LAX and JFK are not like this but some are. There are a few gates at MIA like this too usually they are gates that are in narrow alley ways.


"It was just four of us on the flight deck, trying to do our job" (Captain Al Haynes)
User currently offlineMaverick623 From United States of America, joined Nov 2006, 5569 posts, RR: 6
Reply 6, posted (2 years 11 months 2 weeks ago) and read 8335 times:

Quoting Camohe (Thread starter):


When arriving in the US on an international flight the aircraft stops some metres before it reaches the gate.

I think you mean "widebody" as opposed to "international", as even Dash-8s fly international routes  

This only happens at a few airports with particularly tight alleyways or gate congestion. The vast majority of widebody gates allow the aircraft to taxi in under their own power.



"PHX is Phoenix, PDX is the other city" -777Way
User currently offlineHAWK21M From India, joined Jan 2001, 31667 posts, RR: 56
Reply 7, posted (2 years 11 months 1 week 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 8172 times:

Too critical clearences near the bays......More safer with Engines shut down.


Think of the brighter side!
User currently offlinebjorn14 From Norway, joined Feb 2010, 3389 posts, RR: 2
Reply 8, posted (2 years 11 months 1 week 6 days 12 hours ago) and read 8161 times:

Quoting HAWK21M (Reply 7):
More safer with Engines shut down.

and less expensive.   



"I want to know the voice of God the rest is just details" --A. Einstein
User currently offlinecontrails15 From United States of America, joined Oct 2008, 1181 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (2 years 11 months 1 week 6 days 8 hours ago) and read 8089 times:

We have a tow in gate at my terminal. Brand new terminal and we still have a tow in gate like our old one. Anyway, because some of mentioned below, its such a tight turn for the aircraft especially with a plane next to it that we tow it in. Only other times we do it is if wx conditions are so bad that the pilot doesn't feel comfortable coming into the gate. Basically he can't see the line.


Giants football!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
User currently offlineflybaurlax From United States of America, joined Oct 2008, 638 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (2 years 11 months 1 week 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 8006 times:

On Monday on an AA flight from DFW to LAX, we had to wait to pull into the gate from the alley due to a bus that had broken down between gates. It was the closest object to the alley, and the pilots were very shaky (in the brakes) to bring the plan in. Finally we stopped and the wing walkers tried to move the bus, and they just couldn't get it to move. They then hooked up a tug to pull us in, and very very slowly made sure the wing would clear the bus. It was pretty comical, because there were about 5 people who tried their hands at moving the bus.


Boilerup! Go Purdue!
User currently offlineHA_DC9 From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 653 posts, RR: 1
Reply 11, posted (2 years 11 months 1 week 6 days 2 hours ago) and read 7895 times:

This happens at HNL too at T2 (Hawaiian Airlines). Since the demise of AQ, HA has moved some 767 ops to T2 (aka interisland terminal). These 767 ops have the aircraft shut down engines and then towed in to the gate from the taxiway at the entrance to T2 near the Ewa Concourse (I forgot the actual taxiway identifier). The aircraft are also towed out near the Ewa Concourse prior to engine start. I believe this is so because the 2 taxiways to T2 are close together as well as the close proximity of Aloha Air Cargo's operations and the HA maintenance facility that can be impacted by jet blast. This will all change once HNL builds out the upcoming Mauka Concourse and relocates the HA maintenance facilities.

User currently offlinecontrails15 From United States of America, joined Oct 2008, 1181 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (2 years 11 months 1 week 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 7831 times:

Sort of related, JFK Terminal 7 gates 6, 7 and 8 are pushed onto the taxi way. Its such a tight ramp that they have to push them onto the taxi ways. All other gates in the terminal are pushed into the alley.


Giants football!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
User currently onlineha763 From United States of America, joined Jan 2003, 3636 posts, RR: 5
Reply 13, posted (2 years 11 months 1 week 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 7679 times:
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Quoting HA_DC9 (Reply 11):
I believe this is so because the 2 taxiways to T2 are close together as well as the close proximity of Aloha Air Cargo's operations and the HA maintenance facility that can be impacted by jet blast.

It has nothing to do with the taxiways. For arriving aircraft, it all depends on how busy it is. If the Interisland Terminal is not busy, the 767s will taxi in on its own power. For departures, It is because of go!'s operations being in the jet blast zone. The DC-10s used to taxi in and out on its own power all the time.


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