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THE Goldhofer AST-1 X is growing (Part 2)
The building of the biggest towbarless aircraft tractor of the world

[7] - März 2005: the tractor is self-propelled leaving the assembly hall...

Before the A380 has it´s maiden flight the Goldhofer AST-1 X was checked in all systems and proved as ready to start the engines by mid of March.

After finished the final adjustments I was able to drive the new tractor out of the assembly hall on his own six wheels!

[8] - April 2005: first tests at ex-military airfield in Memmingen...

After the internal test procedure in the factory we started an extended test program with the tractor. To be able to simulate the mass of an aircraft we built a special designed ballast-trailer, which was equipped with an nose landing gear so the tractor was able to pickup this trailer like an aircraft.

As the space at the factory was not big enough, we are happy to used an ex-military airfield near Memmingen.

The picture shows a test with 300.000 lbs / 150.000 kg of ballast to simulate the aircraft weight and the max. nose landing gear load of 135.000 lbs / 60.000 kg.

[9] - April 2005: Transport to Frankfurt Airport...

For the transport of the new tractor to the Frankfurt airport a Goldhofer Transportsystem was used: an excavator bridge, which got some consoles for the aircraft tractor, was mounted between a 3-axle- and 4-axle bogie of the type THP/LT, coupled with a goose-neck to form a semi-trailer.

The total length was about 90 ft / 30 meters and this needs some more space while changing the direction.

[10] - April 2005: Test at Frankfurt Airport...

To get the final exceptance from the aircraft manufacturer each new tractor type has to fulfil a lot of test runs with each aircraft type and different total weights.

A lot of measuring points have to be recorded and to be judged before the aircraft manufacturer will give his NTO (Non Technical Objections) and anybody is allowed to use this new tractor.

Only in cooperation with a good customer you are able to do this in the limited time schedule. In Frankfurt our customer FRAPORT supported us in best way.

[11] - April 2005: Test at Frankfurt Airport...

As the A380 was not available the biggest aircraft for the test runs was the Boeing B747, called "Jumbo", which could reach a max. weight of 950.00 lbs / 425.00 kg.

This was only some "light-weight" compared with the coming A380:

The AST-1 X is designed to tow the A380, which will reach a max. weight of nearly 1.320.000 lbs / 600.000 kg!

[12] - May 2005: Test at Zürich Airport...

After the tests in Frankfurt we are allowed to test the AST-1 X at Swissport Ltd. in Zurich for some weeks at standard procedures without any trouble.

At the end of the test runs Swissport organized this picture:

all 21 Goldhofer aircraft tractors (AST-1 AST-2 and AST-3) running at Swissport Zurich, arranged around the new Goldhofer tractor AST-1 X to say "good-bye"!

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