When push comes to shove – VOLK Electric Tow Tractor EFZ 100 N in pushback operation

When commercial aircraft reverse out of the gate, they require the help of special aircraft tractors. That’s because turbine-propelled airplanes do not have a reverse gear. Even though it would be possible for the machine to roll back on its own by reversing the engine thrust, starting the engines so close to the terminal building is not permitted due to noise protection and particularly for reasons of safety.

VOLK Electric Tow Tractor EFZ 100 N during pushback – A ramp agent is walking alongside the nose wheel of the aircraft, in order to secure the rear area and to notify the pilot when the engines can be safely start

As a result, jet aircraft are pushed along the designated taxiways with aircraft tractors before they continue on their way to the runway by themselves. This operation is called pushback. The connection between aircraft and tractor is thereby usually achieved with the use of so-called tow bars.

Since airplanes used for regular and charter flights usually have a significant weight, aircraft tractors are predominantly driven by powerful diesel engines. These are, however, targeted by increased criticism due to their substantial noise and exhaust emissions.


Push tow – The connection between nose wheel and aircraft tractor is done with a tow bar

During the peak of the holiday travel season VOLK recently used a standard VOLK electric tractor of the type EFZ 100 N at the Dresden airport in pushback. The industrial tractor has mastered this unusual challenge with flying colors. Above all the powerful and highly sensitive electric drive was convincing in every respect. 

Two electric motors, which deliver a maximum torque of close to 1.000 Nm, are responsible for propulsion. During the actual pushback operation there is an available performance of up to 80 kW, during continuous operation it still reaches 50 kW. An electronic differential lock guarantees optimal traction during unfavorable weather conditions. The batteries have a capacity of 80 V/1.550 Ah. The 12 ton heavy EFZ 100 N can thereby manage a normal day without any difficulty.

David and Goliath – The difference in size between the Boeing 737-800 with 80 tons take-off weight and the VOLK Electric Tow Tractor EFZ 100 N is quite impressive

In Dresden, aircraft with a maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) of up to 100 tons were pushed, so that the model EFZ 100 N is suitable for practically all types of aircraft used in regional and medium-haul traffic, including the Airbus A 320 and the Boeing 737. The electric tractor EFZ 100 N is thus ideally suited for pushback use on small and medium-sized airports. It therefore presents an extremely interesting alternative particularly for airports that cater to medium-haul flights, not lastly due to its price, which is very attractive in comparison to conventional diesel tractors. And it is environmentally friendly as well.

VOLK Fahrzeugbau GmbH
Stahlstraße 15
88339 Bad Waldsee

+49 7524 9709 0