The Ground Handling Blog

Mototok's blog for Hangar Professionals

Written by Mototok on March 21, 2017 // 4:47 PM

How to save money on training for the operation of aircraft tugs


One of the major economic factors at every hangar or airport is the staff. Finding skilled workers or training staff can get incredibly costly. That’s why we show you how clever equipment can save you big bucks.

Challenges that require special training

Moving an aircraft isn’t always easy, you know that. Of course, it helps if you use an aircraft tug, but then you still need a lot of skill to make it safely from A to B. Especially when you are operating a tow bar you need an excellent spatial orientation and logical thought. In what angle do you have to make the turn? Will the wings touch the walls or is there enough space? How can you maneuver around obstacles?

The answers to these questions will come from experience and of course from special training. The operator or driver of a conventional aircraft tug has to do a lot of learning to master his craft – and that takes a bunch of time and money.

The hidden costs of good tug operators

If you take a close look at your hiring process when it comes to tug drivers, you will notice many expensive points:

Licenses and training: How do aircraft tug operators get usually qualified?

In many countries, this job requires at least a driver’s license, often even a truck driver’s license. This costs up to several thousand dollars. Don’t forget that you need the permission to use this license commercially, too. Furthermore, there is special training for the operation of aircraft tugs you need to complete (a plane is still a bit different than a truck, after all). Therefore, airports offer special courses to teach prospective tug drivers and these programs aren’t cheap either.

Not only is this professional development expensive, it also takes a lot of valuable time. Sending your staff into this advanced training will steal workforce from your everyday business.

Tight job market

Finding a good aircraft tug operator is a tough thing to do because all the training in the world won’t be enough if you don’t have a certain predisposition and talent for this job. Therefore, good drivers shouldn’t be taken for granted and they most certainly aren’t. The competition is huge, FBOs and airports are touting for good employees like crazy, and wages go through the roof. This makes not only the initial but also the running costs rise.

So, that’s all well and good, but these are kind of overhead costs. It’s not like you can avoid them, really… or can you?

Yes, you can.

Time- and money-saving alternative to training-intense tugs

Three of the reasons why you need highly qualified drivers are:

  1. The driver needs to estimate distances while sitting on the aircraft tractor.
  2. Conventional aircraft tugs grant only a little freedom of mobility, making intelligent maneuvering necessary.
  3. There is technical know-how and sometimes even physical strength needed to operate these tugs.

The logical solutions to these problems are:

  1. Use remote-controlled aircraft tugs, so you can move around the aircraft freely and control distances easily.
  2. Use tugs that grant you a maximum of mobility.
  3. Use tugs that have a self-explaining, easy way of handling.

The positive effects of an easy-to-use aircraft tug

When buying a new aircraft tug, you should look out for models that don’t require a driver’s license. That’s not as impossible as you might think, there is, in fact, plenty of equipment out there that fits this criterion. Relinquishing a need for a special license saves you instantly a huge amount of money, time and nerves, and results in higher profits and an easier hiring process.

The control of your tug should be as uncomplicated as possible. Only a simple handling will minimize risks of human error. That’s for example why our Mototoks come with an intuitive joystick instead of some complex controller.


In fact, a Mototok takes merely an hour of briefing and training to comprehend and you’ll be good to go. This way, basically all of your staff can learn to handle it. With everyone being able to move an aircraft around you will gain additional flexibility and save a lot of time. Some of our clients that run FBOs even let their receptionists park and roll planes out.

Conclusion to training for the operation of aircraft tugs

Learning how to handle a conventional aircraft tug is difficult and takes a lot of time, effort and money. Therefore, tug drivers are hard to find and often high-paid. The easiest way to save money is to use tugs that don’t require any special training or licenses. Mototok is one of the only manufacturers of aircraft tugs that don’t need this kind of qualifications.

Get in touch now and find out more about our ground support equipment!

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