Modernized passenger boarding bridges for Germany’s largest airport - Perfect docking with new sliding floor unit

The HÜBNER Group is providing Germany’s largest airport with the latest in aircraft docking infrastructure. Fraport AG, the operator of the Frankfurt Airport, is planning to upgrade its passenger boarding bridges, the structure through which passengers enter into aircraft directly from the terminals. In future, HÜBNER’s newly developed adjustable sliding floor element for passenger boarding bridges will be in use at the airport.

The new sliding floor from HÜBNER was successfully tested at Frankfurt Airport at Fraport AG. It creates more space to sensitive sensors and thus enables serving more safely and flexibly. Photo: HÜBNER Group
The hinged bumper on the sliding floor enables a safely and flexibly serving. Photo: HÜBNER Group

Following the start of the upgrade project in spring 2021, the first passenger boarding bridge was successfully retrofitted in autumn 2021.  In the course of the commissioning of the new HÜBNER product at Frankfurt Airport, several docking operations were successfully conducted.  “We are very satisfied with our experience so far,” says Christoph Schiller, project manager for Fraport AG’s central infrastructure management. “HÜBNER’s new adjustable sliding floor unit fulfills the high technical requirements for aircraft docking optimally. This new development provides us with an interesting perspective for the upgrading of additional passenger boarding bridges at our airport.”  

 

Movable bumper provides new docking options

A new hinged bumper segment is crucial for the improved docking process. Located on the left side of the floor bumper, it makes it possible to provide a larger clearance space for sensitive sensor equipment located in the aircraft fuselage, making for a safer and more flexible operation of the passenger boarding bridge. “Making sure that the sliding floor unit has no contact with the sensitive AOA (angle of attack) sensor, is a particular technical challenge. The AOA sensor is exceedingly important for flight operations, as it measures the aircraft’s angle of attack when it is in the air. Therefore, it has to be functioning perfectly,” explains Dirk Kessler, Head of the Airport Technology Division at HÜBNER.

The reason for the new investments in passenger boarding bridge equipment at Fraport is the growing use of new types of aircraft. These new planes often have larger doors that require more clearance when opening. The space available in the cabins of many passenger boarding bridges currently in use is insufficient for these planes – and extending this space is often difficult.

 

Service package offer: Upgrading with modernized folding canopies

To optimize operations, HÜBNER is offering airport operators an efficient service package for the upgrading of passenger boarding bridges. New sliding floor elements can be integrated in passenger boarding bridges when the folding canopies undergo their regular refurbishment, which usually occurs every 15 years. The package offer makes it possible to minimize downtimes.

Refurbishment of folding canopies is a service that HÜBNER offers directly. With its high quality products, HÜBNER gives professional and reliable support to airports in maintaining all types of passenger boarding bridges. "With or without the sliding floor element and regardless of the folding canopy’s original manufacturer, we can find just the right solution for every type of passenger boarding bridge,” says Dirk Kessler. Upgrade information: www.hubner-group.com/en/products/folding-canopies/our-service-for-your-folding-canopies

 

Multiple benefits: Flexible applications for sliding floor element

The newly developed sliding floor has a range of benefits: It can be used wherever the available space in the boarding bridge cabin is not sufficient for optimal docking of the aircraft. When retracted, the new sliding floor does not extend beyond the actual floor of the boarding bridge cabin – but it can then be extended an additional 35 centimeters. This provides enough space for damage-free opening of the larger doors found on some aircraft.

Other benefits: The sliding floor adjusts to the contour of the particular aircraft and thus can be used with many different types of planes.  In addition, the tilt of the passenger boarding bridge can be compensated in both directions through adjustment of the sliding floor element, thus providing a level connection to the airplane. This ensures that passengers can enter and exit the plane with the greatest possible comfort and convenience.

“The tests at the Frankfurt Airport have been an ideal proving ground for our newly developed adjustable sliding floor unit for passenger boarding bridges, which will let us meet a growing demand in this area,” remarks Dirk Kessler. “There are certainly other airports facing the challenge that the available space in their existing passenger boarding bridge cabins is not sufficient. With its new adjustable sliding floor unit for passenger boarding bridges, HÜBNER can offer a convenient and flexible solution for optimal docking of new aircraft types.”