Without them, flying would be much more uncomfortable: the passenger boarding bridge (also called gangway or passenger bridge) allows sheltered, flat level entry into aircraft at thousands of airports worldwide. In the early days of flying the entry was much easier. The small propeller machines had built-in small stairs that were simply lowered. Even today, smaller aircraft usually use built-in stairs, since the slope of the passenger boarding bridge would otherwise be too steep.
How would it look without the passenger boarding bridge? Modern commercial aircraft have entry height of up to 4 metres above the ground. In the case of gigantic jets like the Airbus A380, passengers have to ascend two levels. It would require very high stairs. And families with children, elderly and infirm passengers would find it much harder to board the plane. Not to mention the protection against wind and weather.
The principle of the passenger boarding bridge is simple: as a rule, part of the system is firmly anchored to the airport building. Another part is flexibly mounted on bearings in order to be able to dock to the various aircraft types. So it is important to compensate for differences in the height of the aircraft door as well as different aircraft lengths and widths. For this purpose, a gangway usually consists of several tubes that can telescope in and move apart and one or more lifting units. This telescopic bridge is the most flexible model of the passenger bridge. Less flexible designs are often only suitable for certain aircraft types, which limits the flexibility of airport operators.
The passenger bridge is moved by means of electric motors. They need power and data cables for control. The movements of the individual elements are not very fast. Nevertheless, the cables must be protected against damage. Since they are usually outside the gangway, they must defy wind and weather.
As the downtime of aircraft is getting shorter and shorter and the passenger board bridges are supposed to work reliably, the mechanical movement has to run smoothly. A stoppage of a passenger boarding bridge can mean an immediate financial loss for the airport operator, the airline and also for the passengers who want to fly comfortably and safely on time.
The high reliability of the products speaks for the use of igus products in the passenger boarding bridges. Cable movements in the gangway can be guided safely with our e-chain systems. The strokes are mostly horizontal movements in the telescope tunnels and vertical in the lifting units. e-chains are durable, so a long service life can be counted on. They can be installed in a space-saving manner, so that no cables hang down and visually impair the look. e-chains can be used to supply all required energy (power and control cables, hydraulics, pneumatics, etc.)
Rotary movement e-chain systems as Reverse Bend Radius solutions2
Stroke movement e-chain systems – "Zig-zag" installation type3
Stroke movement e-chain systems – "Hanging" installation type45
Cable protection in several axes e-chain systems provide guidance and protection in three-dimensionally moving applications
To ensure that the cables that supply the jet bridge control system as well as the aeroplane are routed safely for the future, eight passenger boarding bridges were retrofitted in succession at Cologne/Bonn airport and modernised to last the next few decades.
Here, e-chains are used for the cable guidance at passenger boarding bridges that are slid one above another in a telescopic way. They are replacing previous festooning systems, which proved to be unreliable. When side-mounted, these chains are also particularly compact.