A Look at Tow Bars

Light aircraft, perhaps surprisingly, can be maneuvered on the ground with relatively little difficulty. The key is to tow the aircraft without doing damage to the aircraft or yourself. For this reason, propeller manufacturers warn against pulling an aircraft around by its propeller. However, if an aircraft has struts, it's fine to move the aircraft around by those. That said, if you have to steer the aircraft in one direction or another, simply pulling or pushing it won’t work. This is where the tow bar comes into play. In this blog, we will cover tow bars and their uses.

A tow bar is a device that clamps or hooks onto the nosewheel of a tricycle-gear aircraft. On an aircraft with a steerable nose wheel, look for markings that indicate the steering limit. These will likely be posted on the nose wheel strut, wheel pant, or cowling. This does not apply to aircraft with free-castering nose wheels.

Conventional gear aircraft, known as taildraggers, can be towed or tugged. However, because the aircraft’s main landing gear is at its front, the tow bar tug is attached to the rear wheel. The tow bar allows operators to use a combination of strength and leverage to pull or push the aircraft, turning it as you move. Tow bars are light, usually less than five pounds, though still sturdy enough to move the majority of single-engine piston aircraft. Heavier single and twin-engine aircraft are difficult to control with a tow bar, but luckily there is a range of powered tugs to help. The more affordable options run on battery-powered electric motors, and more expensive tow bars expand the options to gas-powered tugs and rideable tugs that look similar to tractors. However, many operators avoid store-bought tugs and instead convert riding lawn mowers into tugs.

The three main types of tows are the standard towbar, tailwheel towbar, and tug. Standard tow bars attach to the nose gear and are used to move light single-engine aircraft. Tailwheel tow bars attach to the rear wheel of conventional-gear aircraft. Many tailwheel tow bars maneuver the tail wheel by using a castering dolly. Finally, for large, heavy aircraft that require more power to be moved, tugs are used. Tugs can be electric or gas-powered. Much like chocks, tow bars can end up in places they shouldn’t be. In fact, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has reported accidents in which pilots took off with tow bars still attached to the nose wheel. As such, tow bars should always be stowed prior to starting the aircraft and pilots must remain attentive.

Tow bars are an effective and safe means of moving your aircraft. Not only will they ensure you can push or pull your aircraft in a controlled manner, they will prevent you from incurring injuries from overexerting yourself while trying to move the aircraft on its own. However, as your aircraft is an incredibly valuable asset, it is important you use a top-quality tow bar that you can trust to get the job done. To be certain your tow bar is up to the task, ensure you are getting it from a trusted source.

For tow bars of all types and more, look no further than Sourcing Streamlined. Owned and operated by ASAP Semiconductor, we can help you find all types of parts for the aerospace, civil aviation, defense, electronics, industrial, and IT hardware markets. Our account managers are always available and ready to help you find all the parts and equipment you need, 24/7-365. For a quick and competitive quote, email us at sales@sourcingstreamlined.com or call us at 1-763-401-8616. Let us show you why we consider ourselves the future of purchasing.


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