This is the latest "toy" that ATR, the regional aircraft manufacturer, recently offered themselves: a giant skateboard, which facilitates the movement of aircraft fuselage sections between the various assembly line work stations. With this 26 feet long x 6.5 feet wide (8 metre x 2 metre) electric skateboard, the cumbersome and difficult to manoeuvre tractors of yesteryear have been put into mothballs, because the skateboard has made them redundant.
From a safe distance, using his remote control, Emmanuel Retty, team leader, gently guides the smallest movements of this new machine's 16 wheels: "We can perform any horizontal movement we want: forward-backward, sideways, and even diagonally. It's true that it really is a time saver, whilst at the same providing added security for the personnel and the airplane itself."
To move the sections, weighing up to 15 metric tons, the skateboard has to line up perfectly under the transporter. Once done, all that is required is to raise the four hydraulic jacks. Afterwards, at a speed of 50 feet per minute (15 metres/min), the load takes just 15 minutes to reach its destination, cutting the time with the old method in half.
Thanks to the skateboard, ATR moves ten aircraft around each month, and with the planned ramp-up in production, the manufacturer’s various assembly hangars could resemble a real skate park.