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Max Q
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Unexplained objects on UPS pushback tug tow bar

Thu Apr 29, 2021 9:59 pm

UPS has regular MD11 service into my hometown airport here in TPA

I noticed the tow bar that is connected to this aircraft has two large red ‘boxes’ about the size of a window air conditioner attached to it, one at each end

I’ve not seen this before, I did notice the aircraft doesn’t have a tail stand installed while loading and I’m wonder if these ‘boxes’ are actually mass weights that hold the nose down through its tow bar connection while loading in case too much weight is placed aft ?
 
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Florianopolis
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Re: Unexplained objects on UPS pushback tug tow bar

Fri Apr 30, 2021 2:38 am

Maybe storage boxes for wires, pins, wands, etc etc?
 
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zeke
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Re: Unexplained objects on UPS pushback tug tow bar

Fri Apr 30, 2021 12:06 pm

Max Q wrote:
UPS has regular MD11 service into my hometown airport here in TPA

I noticed the tow bar that is connected to this aircraft has two large red ‘boxes’ about the size of a window air conditioner attached to it, one at each end

I’ve not seen this before, I did notice the aircraft doesn’t have a tail stand installed while loading and I’m wonder if these ‘boxes’ are actually mass weights that hold the nose down through its tow bar connection while loading in case too much weight is placed aft ?


Is this what you are referring to ?

Image

If so it is a portable anchoring device also known as a Pet Rock. The red boxes are heavy counterbalances to hold the nose landing gear in position, thereby preventing a tail tip.
 
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fr8mech
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Re: Unexplained objects on UPS pushback tug tow bar

Fri Apr 30, 2021 12:08 pm

Max Q wrote:
UPS has regular MD11 service into my hometown airport here in TPA

I noticed the tow bar that is connected to this aircraft has two large red ‘boxes’ about the size of a window air conditioner attached to it, one at each end

I’ve not seen this before, I did notice the aircraft doesn’t have a tail stand installed while loading and I’m wonder if these ‘boxes’ are actually mass weights that hold the nose down through its tow bar connection while loading in case too much weight is placed aft ?



We do not use a tail stand on our MD11’s. We do, on occasion, tether the nose if the aircraft has been modified and the spot is capable.

A picture would be helpful, as the tow bars we have at SDF do not have these attachments. At least not that I’ve seen. I’ve, largely, been an office dweller for the last 5 years.

Edit: that picture sure does look like anchor devices. Haven’t seen that before. I don’t recall our GOM having them in it. I’ll have to take a look next week. But, they don’t look like they’re attached to any towbar.

“Pet rock”. That’s what we call the ballast that’s put in the lower forward pit to keep the aircraft in CG for towing and taxiing.
 
jetblueguy22
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Re: Unexplained objects on UPS pushback tug tow bar

Fri Apr 30, 2021 1:42 pm

Starting at the middle of last year 5X started an anchor project for the fleet. There are two types. One is a tether that loops around the front gear and the other is a cart with a 10,000 pound weight on it. You almost certainly saw one of the carts.

Both significantly speed up the loading/unloading process, improving turn time and of course preventing a tail tip. I had never seen the managers at my gateway light up more than when I delivered the news we were getting one.
 
Max Q
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Re: Unexplained objects on UPS pushback tug tow bar

Fri Apr 30, 2021 6:27 pm

zeke wrote:
Max Q wrote:
UPS has regular MD11 service into my hometown airport here in TPA

I noticed the tow bar that is connected to this aircraft has two large red ‘boxes’ about the size of a window air conditioner attached to it, one at each end

I’ve not seen this before, I did notice the aircraft doesn’t have a tail stand installed while loading and I’m wonder if these ‘boxes’ are actually mass weights that hold the nose down through its tow bar connection while loading in case too much weight is placed aft ?


Is this what you are referring to ?

Image

If so it is a portable anchoring device also known as a Pet Rock. The red boxes are heavy counterbalances to hold the nose landing gear in position, thereby preventing a tail tip.



That is exactly what I’m referring to, interesting, I’ve not seen this approach used to prevent an aircraft from sitting on its tail when misloaded


What’s not clear from the photo is where it attaches to the aircraft and why the red covers ?


Thanks for the information
 
jetblueguy22
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Re: Unexplained objects on UPS pushback tug tow bar

Fri Apr 30, 2021 7:21 pm

Max Q wrote:
zeke wrote:
Max Q wrote:
UPS has regular MD11 service into my hometown airport here in TPA

I noticed the tow bar that is connected to this aircraft has two large red ‘boxes’ about the size of a window air conditioner attached to it, one at each end

I’ve not seen this before, I did notice the aircraft doesn’t have a tail stand installed while loading and I’m wonder if these ‘boxes’ are actually mass weights that hold the nose down through its tow bar connection while loading in case too much weight is placed aft ?


Is this what you are referring to ?

Image

If so it is a portable anchoring device also known as a Pet Rock. The red boxes are heavy counterbalances to hold the nose landing gear in position, thereby preventing a tail tip.



That is exactly what I’m referring to, interesting, I’ve not seen this approach used to prevent an aircraft from sitting on its tail when misloaded


What’s not clear from the photo is where it attaches to the aircraft and why the red covers ?


Thanks for the information

What isn’t shown in that picture is the cross beam connecting the two sides. There is a nylon (could also be Kevlar, memory shaky on it right now) that you loop around the gear and then to the cart.
 
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zeke
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Re: Unexplained objects on UPS pushback tug tow bar

Sat May 01, 2021 3:12 am

Max Q wrote:


That is exactly what I’m referring to, interesting, I’ve not seen this approach used to prevent an aircraft from sitting on its tail when misloaded


What’s not clear from the photo is where it attaches to the aircraft and why the red covers ?


Thanks for the information


The nose gear has a tie down point, there is an strap attachment to that from each side. They are not red everywhere, maybe to indicate remove before flight.

FedEx in BLR

ImageFedEx MD-11 (N524FE) by Siddarth Bhandary, on Flickr

ImageFedEx MD-11 (N524FE) - a different angle by Siddarth Bhandary, on Flickr
 
CeddP
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Re: Unexplained objects on UPS pushback tug tow bar

Sat May 01, 2021 3:27 pm

zeke wrote:
Max Q wrote:


That is exactly what I’m referring to, interesting, I’ve not seen this approach used to prevent an aircraft from sitting on its tail when misloaded


What’s not clear from the photo is where it attaches to the aircraft and why the red covers ?


Thanks for the information


The nose gear has a tie down point, there is an strap attachment to that from each side. They are not red everywhere, maybe to indicate remove before flight.


At the FX hub in CDG, it is always been mandatory to use those "nose tether" on all widebodies. We have different sizes with different colors (orange and purple) for different acft types. Historically all parking spots had a built-in anchoring system to which we tie the nose tether. With the advent of the 777, a couple of new parking spots were opened without anchors, so those weighed carts appeared. And due to their weigh, the only GSE which is able to move them safely around on the ramp is... the pushback tug. Hence the confusion, but those weighed carts are removed before the towbar is installed for pushback.
 
Max Q
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Re: Unexplained objects on UPS pushback tug tow bar

Sat May 01, 2021 8:20 pm

Interesting, thanks for the very informative replies
 
Sancho99504
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Re: Unexplained objects on UPS pushback tug tow bar

Sat May 22, 2021 5:06 pm

jetblueguy22 wrote:
Starting at the middle of last year 5X started an anchor project for the fleet. There are two types. One is a tether that loops around the front gear and the other is a cart with a 10,000 pound weight on it. You almost certainly saw one of the carts.

Both significantly speed up the loading/unloading process, improving turn time and of course preventing a tail tip. I had never seen the managers at my gateway light up more than when I delivered the news we were getting one.



Oh man, I used to ground handle MD-11Fs from LH, MP, 2G, BR, CK and WO. They were such a pain when working at a cargo spot without an anchor point. Unload rear lower and bulk, then all of main deck except 1R/L, then unload and reload front lower, unload 1R/L, load main, load rear lower and bulk. Time consuming.
 
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Horstroad
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Re: Unexplained objects on UPS pushback tug tow bar

Sat May 22, 2021 8:36 pm

zeke wrote:
The nose gear has a tie down point, there is an strap attachment to that from each side. They are not red everywhere, maybe to indicate remove before flight.

The MD-11 does not have special tie down points on the landing gears. According AMM for mooring the landing gear tow lugs are used.
They seem to put the sling on the shock strut clevis for the lower drag link. It can't go anywhere from there.

Sancho99504 wrote:
Oh man, I used to ground handle MD-11Fs from LH, MP, 2G, BR, CK and WO. They were such a pain when working at a cargo spot without an anchor point. Unload rear lower and bulk, then all of main deck except 1R/L, then unload and reload front lower, unload 1R/L, load main, load rear lower and bulk. Time consuming.

It's not such a big deal. The procedure is similar on the 777F. You don't load both lower cargo compartments simultaneously anyways, but one after the other. During loading the FWD cargo compartment first, AFT (CTR on the MD-11) cargo compartment when the FWD is finished, unloading in reverse. The center cargo compartment is quite a bit smaller than the forward one on the MD-11 so this one goes quicker.
The main difference is the main deck cargo compartment. On the 777F with the main cargo door in the aft you can move all the pallets forward to their position right when you load them. On the MD-11 with the main cargo door in the front you might need to advance the whole stack one position aft each time a new pallet is loaded (which might be a pain in the butt when the optional cargo handling system is not installed) or do one side after the other. I'm not a loader, but I think that's how they do it.
Loading/unloading a MD-11F does indeed take longer than a 777F from my experience, but not much. Maybe 15 minutes?
 
Max Q
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Re: Unexplained objects on UPS pushback tug tow bar

Sun May 23, 2021 12:26 am

One aspect of this procedure where you’re basically tying down the nose instead of holding up the tail that’s not been addressed are the stresses being placed on the nose gear, it’s attachment points and surrounding structure in the event the CG does move so far aft during loading it has to ‘hold the nose down’


In that scenario a significant pull force would be generated on an area of the structure designed for the opposite


I’m surprised that’s not an issue
 
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Horstroad
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Re: Unexplained objects on UPS pushback tug tow bar

Sun May 23, 2021 2:17 am

As mentioned above, the landing gears are anchor points for mooring. They are designed to keep the aircraft on the ground when heavy wind wants to move it around.
If a tipping event happened during loading or unloading, the forces would increase gradually on the nose landing gear. There wouldn't be any huge spikes like during a landing. So the stresses, even though in the opposite direction to usual, wouldn't be too great.

You also have to consider that the nose landing gear is made for towing operations which can produce forces in unusual directions. So it's designed to take loads in various directions.
 
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Francoflier
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Re: Unexplained objects on UPS pushback tug tow bar

Sun May 23, 2021 2:55 am

Max Q wrote:
I’m surprised that’s not an issue


It is an issue.

Not all freighters' nose landing gear can be tied down for that very reason.
On those aircraft, they can either use a tail post if available (which also brings its share of structural considerations) or a careful loading procedure as described above, which can be a bit more time consuming.
 
Sancho99504
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Re: Unexplained objects on UPS pushback tug tow bar

Sun May 23, 2021 3:06 am

Horstroad wrote:
zeke wrote:
The nose gear has a tie down point, there is an strap attachment to that from each side. They are not red everywhere, maybe to indicate remove before flight.

The MD-11 does not have special tie down points on the landing gears. According AMM for mooring the landing gear tow lugs are used.
They seem to put the sling on the shock strut clevis for the lower drag link. It can't go anywhere from there.

Sancho99504 wrote:
Oh man, I used to ground handle MD-11Fs from LH, MP, 2G, BR, CK and WO. They were such a pain when working at a cargo spot without an anchor point. Unload rear lower and bulk, then all of main deck except 1R/L, then unload and reload front lower, unload 1R/L, load main, load rear lower and bulk. Time consuming.

It's not such a big deal. The procedure is similar on the 777F. You don't load both lower cargo compartments simultaneously anyways, but one after the other. During loading the FWD cargo compartment first, AFT (CTR on the MD-11) cargo compartment when the FWD is finished, unloading in reverse. The center cargo compartment is quite a bit smaller than the forward one on the MD-11 so this one goes quicker.
The main difference is the main deck cargo compartment. On the 777F with the main cargo door in the aft you can move all the pallets forward to their position right when you load them. On the MD-11 with the main cargo door in the front you might need to advance the whole stack one position aft each time a new pallet is loaded (which might be a pain in the butt when the optional cargo handling system is not installed) or do one side after the other. I'm not a loader, but I think that's how they do it.
Loading/unloading a MD-11F does indeed take longer than a 777F from my experience, but not much. Maybe 15 minutes?

Semantics aside of what the belly cargo positions are, that's exactly what I said.. I didn't say that you unload and load the lower decks simultaneously. I've never worked a 777F, got out of the industry a little before they were introduced. LH MD-11s have PDU's at all but the last 5 positions if I remember right. MP had PDUs at the door positions and the rest didn't have anything. Makes a huge difference, especially when you're severely shorthanded as the company I was working for was slowly going under at ORD back in the 2006-2009 time frame. LH was pretty quick but the others took about 45 minutes longer if we had a full crew, hour and 15 if I was by myself.
 
CeddP
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Re: Unexplained objects on UPS pushback tug tow bar

Sun May 23, 2021 4:15 pm

Horstroad wrote:
It's not such a big deal.
and
Horstroad wrote:
I'm not a loader
definitely come together :tongue2:
Jokes aside, one need to realise that the two major operators of the MD11 never equipped them with PDUs on the main deck. Looking at numbers, it's safe to say around 90% of MD11s flying in the past decade were relying on muscle power on the main deck, close to 100% nowadays. Combining this fact with the ridiculous sequencing you correctly described makes loading and unloading the MD11, from a ramp perspective, the worst widebody cargo acft to handle, ever, and by far! So as Sancho said, it is a HUGE pain for ramp handlers.

The difference with the 777 is that even if theoretically the sequence is the same, in reality the acft offers a lot more flexibility when needed, especially for integrators. With their usual freight density (let's say around 4000lbs for a lower PMC equivalent position) you can load the whole aft hold + bulk first, without problems. I'm not saying it's good practice, but still a possibility. Don't even whisper this idea close to a MD, it'll already be on its tail! Add to it the PDUs as standard on all decks on the triple. At the end of the day, you need the same number of handlers to either load/unload all compartiments simultaneously on the 777, or accomplish the lenghty (and exhausting!) sequence on the MD11. These details make all the difference when you deal with hub ops.

Back to topic, where I worked it was mandatory to use the nose tether on every type, but we would barely glance at it when dealing with 777 ops, while constantly monitoring it on the MD11. On top of preventing an actual tipping, it was also (I shall actually say mainly) used to monitor CG position in real time. Tension of the tether says it all : completely loose with anchors inside their bay -> no problem ; anchors start to appear off the ground -> look out ; tether tensed like a banjo string -> stop the hell you're doing and put some weight at the front, now ; nose wheel off the ground -> go home and don't come back :duck:
 
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Horstroad
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Re: Unexplained objects on UPS pushback tug tow bar

Sun May 23, 2021 4:36 pm

CeddP wrote:
one need to realise that the two major operators of the MD11 never equipped them with PDUs on the main deck. Looking at numbers, it's safe to say around 90% of MD11s flying in the past decade were relying on muscle power on the main deck, close to 100% nowadays. it is a HUGE pain for ramp handlers.

That's not the fault of the aircraft or its design though, but up the operators. I bet if Boeing offered the 777F without a cargo handling system, they would buy it that way.

CeddP wrote:
Add to it the PDUs as standard on all decks on the triple.

The cargo handling system is garbage though, in my opinion. When everything works, it's great of course. But as the PDUs can't be lowered (like they do on the MD-11 :P ), you're in trouble.

CeddP wrote:
where I worked it was mandatory to use the nose tether on every type, but we would barely glance at it when dealing with 777 ops

Why would anyone use a tether on the 777F? It has a Tip Alarm System which sounds an alarm and stops the main deck cargo handling system before the aircraft can tip over.
 
CeddP
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Re: Unexplained objects on UPS pushback tug tow bar

Sun May 23, 2021 5:08 pm

Horstroad wrote:
CeddP wrote:
one need to realise that the two major operators of the MD11 never equipped them with PDUs on the main deck. Looking at numbers, it's safe to say around 90% of MD11s flying in the past decade were relying on muscle power on the main deck, close to 100% nowadays. it is a HUGE pain for ramp handlers.

That's not the fault of the aircraft or its design though, but up the operators. I bet if Boeing offered the 777F without a cargo handling system, they would buy it that way.

I bet they would! From what I heard, PUDs were deemed mandatory by the FAA for safety reason due to the noticeable nose down pitch attitude on the ground.

Horstroad wrote:
CeddP wrote:
Add to it the PDUs as standard on all decks on the triple.

The cargo handling system is garbage though, in my opinion. When everything works, it's great of course. But as the PDUs can't be lowered (like they do on the MD-11 :P ), you're in trouble.

Small tip : powering off remove power of course, but also breaking capability of the pdu ;) Same happen if you disable the pdu from control screen on main deck if I recall correctly.

Horstroad wrote:
CeddP wrote:
where I worked it was mandatory to use the nose tether on every type, but we would barely glance at it when dealing with 777 ops

Why would anyone use a tether on the 777F? It has a Tip Alarm System which sounds an alarm and stops the main deck cargo handling system before the aircraft can tip over.

To have a single simple procedure. Lowest common denominator reasoning comes to mind here, typical of huge companies :roll:
 
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Horstroad
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Re: Unexplained objects on UPS pushback tug tow bar

Sun May 23, 2021 6:12 pm

CeddP wrote:
Horstroad wrote:
The cargo handling system is garbage though, in my opinion. When everything works, it's great of course. But as the PDUs can't be lowered (like they do on the MD-11 :P ), you're in trouble.

Small tip : powering off remove power of course, but also breaking capability of the pdu ;) Same happen if you disable the pdu from control screen on main deck if I recall correctly.


Quote from the AMM Part 1 - System Description Section:

The Spring-Lift PDUs contain an electromechanical brake actuator consisting of a brake disc and pad to prevent the free-movement of the ULD. This brake is always on when no power is present.


But I think we're getting a bit off-topic here :D
 
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HAWK21M
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Re: Unexplained objects on UPS pushback tug tow bar

Mon May 24, 2021 11:55 am

What is the SOP in terms of attaching at removing the PET ROCK.
When is it attached and when can it be detached.
 
acmx
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Re: Unexplained objects on UPS pushback tug tow bar

Tue May 25, 2021 10:58 pm

Not sure about ups, but we install it when the plane blocks in and it stays there until you are actively setting up to push out. Even if the plane is loaded already, if there is an extended time until departure the tether stays on until you are setting up for pushback. We have a tether installed on the nose at all times on all types. Like it was said before, it’s the lowest common denominator thinking and it accounts for any weird variable that could come up. If it’s installed the plane isn’t tipping.
 
Max Q
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Re: Unexplained objects on UPS pushback tug tow bar

Wed May 26, 2021 2:25 am

acmx wrote:
Not sure about ups, but we install it when the plane blocks in and it stays there until you are actively setting up to push out. Even if the plane is loaded already, if there is an extended time until departure the tether stays on until you are setting up for pushback. We have a tether installed on the nose at all times on all types. Like it was said before, it’s the lowest common denominator thinking and it accounts for any weird variable that could come up. If it’s installed the plane isn’t tipping.



How often do you see the tether actually stop the aircraft from tipping ?
 
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fr8mech
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Re: Unexplained objects on UPS pushback tug tow bar

Wed May 26, 2021 6:48 am

HAWK21M wrote:
What is the SOP in terms of attaching at removing the PET ROCK.
When is it attached and when can it be detached.


According to the UPS book, installed after the aircraft is chocked and removed after the aircraft is loaded.

Max Q wrote:
How often do you see the tether actually stop the aircraft from tipping ?


Ideally, never. The tether just plugs another hole in the cheese. Honestly, unless someone notices the tether being taut, and reports it, you'll never know.
 
B777LRF
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Re: Unexplained objects on UPS pushback tug tow bar

Thu May 27, 2021 8:04 pm

I once did an audit on an MD-11F turn-around operation. The load master was a cocky little sod, too clever for his own boots, who was of the firm conviction he knew better than the guys who wrote the book.

Anyways, I'm observing the unloading and notice they start emptying the FWD lower-deck whilst still working the main-deck. I approach the guy asking him why they're not following the prescribed sequence, to which he said "I'm keeping an eye on the nose-gear, if it extends too much I'll do something about it". This didn't sit very well with me, and at that point I stopped being an auditor and started being a manager, telling him in no uncertain terms that he will - at all times - follow the prescribed sequence to the letter.

That very short talk apparently ruffled his precious feathers, and he storms off "to talk to my supervisor about you!". I'm calm, as I have both the authority, procedure and airline covering my back. Short time later, the load master returns with his Supervisor in tow, a very switched-on Supervisor who usually runs a very tight ship. The load master starts a long tirade about how I'm interfering with his work, and that he want's me off "his" aircraft. I quickly establish with the Supervisor that a) I have the authority to stop any non-compliance with procedures, b) that I'm conducting an audit on behalf of the operating airline and c) I'd rather this load-master revisits his opinions and calm down. Supervisor takes the load master off for a short walk, after which they return and the load master offers an apology, which is immediately accepted.

I write up the non-conformity as a level 2 finding, and recommend the load master is put back in the classroom for a refresher and that his next 5 turn-arounds are supervised.

PS
The airline in question was one of the larger MD-11F operators, and they never once had a tail-tip - one of only two MD-11F operators never to encounter such an embarrassment. Never used a tether either.

PPS
Tail-tipping a 777F is virtually impossible. You would have to be daft to the point you'd probably never be able to hold the most simple of jobs to accomplish such a feat, let alone be given the responsibility to supervise a loading/un-loading operation.
 
acmx
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Re: Unexplained objects on UPS pushback tug tow bar

Mon Jun 07, 2021 1:10 pm

Max Q wrote:

How often do you see the tether actually stop the aircraft from tipping ?


It’s hard to put a number to that since they don’t tip with a tether installed. But I’ve seen them get pretty tight and I think some of those would’ve tipped. Really only on MDs though. It’s probably overkill doing the whole fleet that way, but it doesn’t take any extra time to install a tether when you block a plane in and the equipment is already there. And it eliminates the risk of tipping and you can load the plane without worrying about it.

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