AS9120B, ISO 9001:2015, and FAA AC 0056B ACCREDITED

How Ramps Were Introduced to the Airline Industry

While the passenger loading ramp is now a common staple of commercial aviation that many are familiar with, such amenities were not always available. Prior to the 1997 FAA mandate for dignified access to commercial aircraft, passengers often needed to board aircraft using the built-in staircases that were present on various models. Now, passengers must be provided a boarding ramp to enter an aircraft, bolstering accessibility and ease-of-boarding for both those with special needs and anyone else.

Some early designs for aircraft ramps came in the form of straight, 15-foot ramps that extended from the ground at angles of 15 to 19 degrees. These ramp loading vehicle solutions were based on cattle chutes, simplistic in their scope and design. Since then, loading ramps have greatly evolved over the past decade, allowing for many designs to come out, with varying sizes and complexity. Additionally, many airliners have also now implemented custom built ramps that can fulfill the needs of each airline, airport, or customer type. This is important as a result of varying door heights and configurations, ramp angles ranging anywhere from 4 degrees to the maximum FAA allowed 19 degrees. For flair, many ramps have even had logos, custom colors, and privacy screens implemented as well.

To further accessibility and safety, some companies have even gone so far as to ban the use of stairs on certain aircraft by passengers, ensuring that manufacturers are forced to adhere to unique requirements that are necessary for a customer base. Furthermore, companies such as SkyWest, America West, and Comair also came together in the 90s to create a more standardized approach to ramps, introducing safety features, more width, a walking surface, and a longer length so that slope angles could be lowered. To ensure that ramps can be moved and used with ease, assemblies have also begun to be manufactured from lightweight aluminum materials.

As ramps were established as a common aspect of airline operations, it became common practice to have air stairs brought to the rotunda so that passengers could be brought down the ramp. However, this did not solve the issue of accessibility for those with wheelchairs, as many airports did not have any elevators situated close to gates at the time. To solve this, Comair’s Donna Heron, a project manager at the time, proposed the use of ramps for jet bridges. With this, the bridge ramps that split to multiple gates, ramps from terminal to ground levels, and other such solutions quickly came about.

One of the final leaps in development came in the form of new aircraft towing solutions in stations where pushback operations were not present. To address this concern, the wing-swing ramp came about, that of which acts like a jet bridge while allowing an aircraft to drive in and out without the need for a pushback. Over the decades, ground support equipment and passenger solutions have radically evolved, and more solutions continue to be developed as the industry puts more focus on the needs of customers.

Here at Nascent Industrial, we can help you source the various aircraft and airliner equipment you need to keep operations running smoothly for your customers, offering competitive pricing and rapid lead times on ramp loading vehicle product parts, wheelchair module components, aircraft towing equipment, and so much more. All of our offerings are sourced from top global manufacturers that we trust, and we subject countless items to rigorous quality assurance measures to guarantee only the best for our customers. Explore our database as you see fit, and take advantage of our online RFQ forms to request quotes on items of interest. Once we receive and review your form, a dedicated account manager will personally reach out to you within 15 minutes to present a customized quote for your comparisons. Get in touch with our team today and see why countless customers continuously rely on Nascent Industrial for all of their needs.


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