Universal Electric Airplane Tug

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Client/Sponsors Inceptus
Team Name: Quality Tugs
Duration: Fall 2018 - Spring 2019
Faculty Adviser: Dr. Matthew Swenson
Mentor: Brandon Hilliard
Team Members:
  • Josh Frie
  • Nick Locke
  • Max Johnson
  • Chase Anderson

Inceptus wants an easy to use electric airplane tug that works with a wide variety of tire sizes as well as aircraft with wheel pants.

Problem Definition[edit]

Currently, there are no airplane tugs on the market that can tow multiple aircraft with little input from the user or without significant modification with changes in wheel type. As the average age of the general aviation pilot increases, the need for an easy to use powered airplane tug increases. Also, most flight schools have multiple airplane tugs to pull specific airplanes. The goal is to create a solution for this problem by designing an airplane tug that can be used with a wide variety of tire sizes and types including those with wheel pants. Our solution will be easy to use and require very little input from the user.


Tire Sizes

  • The tug must be able to move aircraft with the following tire sizes:
    • 4.00x4
    • 5.00x6
    • 6.00x6
    • 7.00x6
    • 8.00x6

Strength Requirements

  • The design shall be able to carry a rolling load of 4000 lbs, up a 2% grade and must be able to handle a static load of 500 lbs.

Mounting/ Interface Requirements

  • The tug shall be able to mount and interact with all different types of wheels, including wheels with pants.

Project Learning[edit]

Pallet Jack[edit]

The client wants a system that can be used as a prosthetic on the pallet jack shown below. The pallet jack is electric and can supply power to any electrical systems that might be used on the final design.

QualityTugs PalletJack2 2018.png

Design Ideas[edit]

Design Idea 1
Image Description
QualityTugs Design1 1 2018.png
  • System without pallet jack
  • Gate is closed by operator
  • Linear actuator (not shown) pushes wheel against gate
  • Sliding mechanism uses UHMW plastic to reduce friction and part count
QualityTugs Design1 2 2018.png
  • System on Pallet Jack
QualityTugs Design1 3 2018.png
  • The gate uses roller bearings to “lift” wheel when clamped
  • V shape helps stabilize tires of different width
Design Idea 2
Image Description
QualityTugs Design2 1 2018.png
  • Pictured is the system without using the pallet jack
  • This design is similar to the first except it uses roller bearings on the part that the linear actuator pushes on
  • It uses square tubing in which the mechanism slides.
QualityTugs Design2 3 2018.png
  • System with a captured wheel
QualityTugs Design2 2 2018.png
  • This is the system on the pallet jack
QualityTugs Design2 4 2018.png
  • This is the part that the linear actuator will be pushing on
Design Idea 3
Image Description
QualityTugs Design3 1 2018.png
QualityTugs Design3 2 2018.png
QualityTugs Design3 3 2018.png
QualityTugs Design3 4 2018.png
  • The series of pictures shows how the gate closes.
  • This design uses a two arm gate to capture the wheel, unlike the other two which use a single arm gate.
  • It uses a linkage system to close both arms at the same time.
QualityTugs Design3 5 2018.png
  • Stand alone system
QualityTugs Design3 6 2018.png
  • System on the pallet jack

Linear Actuator[edit]

All of the ideas above use a linear actuator to capture an aircraft wheel. The linear actuator must have a stroke length of at least 10 inches. This could run off the power supply of the pallet jack. The pros of using a linear actuator are it is light weight, small in size, and has a long stroke length. The cons of using a linear actuator are they are expensive, needs power, and requires a control system.

QualityTugs LinearActuators 2018.png
QualityTugs LinearActuators2 2018.png

Using 8020[edit]

The client suggested the use of 8020 to build the final design. Also, 8020 is modular and would allow rapid prototyping at a low cost, and there is large amount of scrap 8020 in the University of Idaho machine shop that can be used for free.

QualityTugs 8020Idea 2018.png

Final Design[edit]

The plan is to come up with a final design by the end of January, then have a final product by April.

Team Members[edit]

[[File: |180px|thumb|left]] Name Josh Frei

Major: Mechanical Engineering
Hometown: Grangeville, ID
Graduation Date: Spring 2019
Future Goals:
Email: frei4286@vandals.uidaho.edu

[[File: |180px|thumb|left]] Name Nick Locke

Major: Mechanical Engineering
Hometown: Vancouver, WA
Graduation Date: Spring 2019
Future Goals:
Email: lock3401@vandals.uidaho.edu

[[File: |180px|thumb|left]] Name Max Johnson

Major: Mechanical Engineering
Hometown: Coeur d'Alene, ID
Graduation Date: Spring 2019
Future Goals:

[[File: |180px|thumb|left]] Name Chase Anderson

Major: Mechanical Engineering
Hometown: Lewisville, TX
Graduation Date: Spring 2019
Future Goals:
Email: ande9000@vandals.uidaho.edu

Additional Documentation[edit]

Meeting Minutes

File:QualityTugs MeetingMinutes 2018.pdf


File:QualityTugs DesignReview 2018.pdf