Aircraft recovery, simple, fast and safe

Innovative Austrian-made product prepares on ground staff for emergency with user-friendly low maintenance equipment


Defective or damaged aircraft are always an unwelcome exceptional situation for the operations of an airport, causing air traffic delays and elevated costs. Austrian companies “K&M airporttechnik” and “con-act” offer innovative and globally unique recovery dollies and recovery equipment to remove defective aircraft as quickly as possible and ensure airport staff are perfectly prepared for emergencies.


Decades of experience as a commander of the fire brigade and an on-site coordinator at Graz airport (GRZ) motivated two Austrians to design a recovery dolly that accelerates procedures and eliminates several problems associated with conventional equipment.


The RD100 recovery dolly, made in Austria takes loads of up to 100 tons. In addition, it is not necessary to go over an inclined surface or ramp because the platform of the RD100 can be lowered until it is completely flush with the ground level.


Furthermore, the RD100 allows the damaged aircraft to be transported in any direction while minimising the impact of forces on the aircraft body plus it subjects the tarmac of the runways and taxiways to reduced loads. ````


The two minds behind this idea are Franz Körbler and Walter Mühlfellner who established K&M airporttechnik in 2007. Both have accumulated more than 40 years of professional experience at Graz airport as commanders of the fire brigade and on-site coordinators. Their aircraft recovery products offer a high degree of functionality and ease of use combined with low service requirement.


Subsequent to the device’s sensational national success (the product was supplied to all Austrian airports), it is now offered to the international market. In 2014, K&M airporttechnik was listed as a supplier of ‘aircraft recovery equipment’ by AENA, one of the largest airport operators worldwide (more than 7000 employees, 46 Spanish airports and 27 international airports). In the last 2 years, 16 K&M recovery dollies of all types were delivered to AENA for Spanish airports. Andreas Mühlfellner who is Walter Mühlfellner’s son handles the International sales.


The product range of both companies comprises recovery dollies with load-bearing capacities from 5,000 to 100,000 kg. Therefore, aircraft from the size of a Cessna to wide-bodied aircraft such as the B747, B787 and A330 to A380 can all be recovered successfully.

The range of supply also includes special trailers for the recovery dollies, fuselage supports with or without off-road trailer for narrow and wide-body aircraft, baggage and container trailers, de-bogging and tethering kits as well as lifting bags.


The recovery dollies are 100% made in Austria in an ISO9001-certified production enterprise. CAD/CAM-aided work preparation, production and machining satisfy the highest quality standards. Many years of practical experience of the two founders with the recovery of aircraft, combined with numerous training courses in Austria and abroad, went into the concept for these unique recovery dollies.


In 2016, the recovery dolly of type RD100 was the latest development to be launched in the market. With the RD100 it is possible to tow an aircraft with damaged landing gear onto the recovery dolly by means of an aircraft tug and towbar. If a tyre of the main landing gear is blocked, the RD100 can be towed underneath this landing gear with the tug.


Advantages of K&M recovery dollies:

  • The introduction of forces into the aircraft body is reduced to a minimum
  • The recovery platform can be lowered completely to the ground (worldwide unique)
  • The load impact on runways and taxiways is minimized
  • Forward and reverse recovery possible due to 360° rotatability of the castors
  • No lateral forces act on the running gears due to unlocking of the heavy-duty bogie wheels of the recovery dolly
  • Ease of use
  • Low service requirement


K&M recovery dollies feature a worldwide unique technology with a hydraulically lowered platform. As it can be placed completely flush on the ground, there is no need to go over an inclined surface or ramp during the recovery procedure. Consequently, the force that needs to be applied and therefore acts on the aircraft body is greatly reduced.


As the RD100 features so many castors, the forces transmitted to the ground (runway and taxiway) are lower. 18 double castors per side (in total 36) with a diameter of 250mm and a contact width of 100mm introduce a weight force of approximately 320 kg/cm at the full load of 116 tons (dead weight included). Especially in southern regions, this contributes to the protection of the runway and taxiway tarmac when outside temperatures are high.


Another unique innovation of the K&M recovery dollies of all types is based on the principle of the individual 360° rotatability of each castor. This mobility allows the aircraft awaiting recovery to be turned fully around its own axis (360°) directly at the site of the breakdown in line with the ARM (aircraft recovery manual). This means that the shortest recovery route can be chosen, thus saving time by avoiding unnecessary movements. Furthermore, the introduction of lateral forces into the running gear of the aircraft is prevented.


The platform of the RD100 consists of special fine-grained steel and can accept double, quadruple and sextuple running gears. The very simple task of positioning the included wedges on the carrying platform is sufficient to correctly distribute the loads.


The hydraulic unit of the RD100 is manufactured in Austria. The components used for this purpose such as cylinders, flow dividers and valves are high-quality products from Germany and Austria. Driven by a high-performance gasoline engine, the unit features a comfortable electric starter. In addition, it can of course also be started and operated manually.


The RD100 is supplied with paint coating in the customer’s preferred colour and assembly of the RD100 is done at the destination. Thereafter, the operating staff of the airport will be trained and instructed by the developers of this innovative product.


By Shereen Shabnam




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