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AIT Develops Tug For Assembly

AIT's Moving Line Tug can be operated in automated or manual drive modes. The nose wheels are raised via hydraulics.

AIT’s Moving Line Tug (MLT) is an automated guided vehicle that attaches to the front landing gear of an aircraft and pulls it through the assembly process, following a predetermined path—either a straight line or other path—through the factory. A camera-guided system helps the MLT direct aircraft to successive positions during final assembly.

The flexible MLT can function either as part of the automated system or with manual driving /steering capabilities for out-of-sequence work. Additionally, it has a variable speed, with a maximum at a near walking pace. The sensors prevent overloading the gear limits at 95° by sensing the turning force. Batteries enable a 16-h workday and can be charged overnight.

Built upon the proven effectiveness of the moving line assembly, the MLT was developed to answer the industry requirement to move aircraft, in an automated fashion, when the landing gear is installed. Unlike other enormous tugs, which also pull along access stands and other tooling, the MLT’s right-sized configuration substantially reduces tooling/work-related costs and material-handling times during final assembly, for greater production rates, according to AIT.

Other benefits include reduced tooling and work-related costs from lower-profile configuration and less factory space required for assembly.

Towing capacity is 36,000 kg, with maximum nose-wheel weight capacity of 6500 kg. The unit itself weighs 1200 kg and is 2000 mm wide, 2020 mm long, and 550 mm high.

The MLT employs four urethane wheels (forward wheels are 250 mm and aft wheels are 400 mm in diameter) and two 24-V 120-A absorption glass matt batteries. The batteries power two 5-kW electric motors used for propulsion and one 24-V 800-W hydraulic pump to lift the nose gear. It takes only one min to load an aircraft.

Embraer will use the MLT for regional jet assembly, but the design is scalable for use by makers of smaller and larger aircraft.

Patrick Ponticel
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