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Publication numberUS20020017002 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 09/862,064
Publication dateFeb 14, 2002
Filing dateMay 21, 2001
Priority dateMay 19, 2000
Publication number09862064, 862064, US 2002/0017002 A1, US 2002/017002 A1, US 20020017002 A1, US 20020017002A1, US 2002017002 A1, US 2002017002A1, US-A1-20020017002, US-A1-2002017002, US2002/0017002A1, US2002/017002A1, US20020017002 A1, US20020017002A1, US2002017002 A1, US2002017002A1
InventorsGary Sloan, Dustin Sloan, Jason Summers, Robert Harrington
Original AssigneeSloan Gary E., Sloan Dustin E., Summers Jason S., Harrington Robert B.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Passenger bridge for aircraft
US 20020017002 A1
Abstract
A bridge apparatus is provided for extending between a stationary aircraft and a motorized passenger boarding bridge having an articulating cab floor. The bridge apparatus comprises a panel adapted to be movably coupled to the articulating cab floor. The bridge apparatus further comprises a limiter configured to inhibit movement of the bridge apparatus in at least one direction when the bridge apparatus reaches a predetermined position relative to the aircraft.
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Claims(31)
What is claimed is:
1. A bridge apparatus for extending between a stationary aircraft and a motorized passenger boarding bridge having a floor, the bridge apparatus comprising:
a panel including an aircraft-facing portion and an attachment portion, the attachment portion configured to be movably coupled to the floor of the passenger boarding bridge, the panel being movable between a first position and a second position,
a limiter in communication with the passenger boarding bridge motor, the limiter configured to inhibit motorized movement of the passenger bridge in at least one direction when the panel moves beyond a predetermined position relative to the floor.
2. The bridge apparatus of claim 1, wherein the limiter communicates with the passenger boarding bridge motor when the panel moves about a pivot axis past the predetermined position.
3. The bridge apparatus of claim 1, wherein the bridge apparatus further comprises a second limiter configured to limit movement of the passenger boarding bridge when the passenger boarding bridge moves to a predetermined position.
4. The bridge apparatus of claim 3, wherein the predetermined position is the engagement of a limiter with a portion of the aircraft.
5. The bridge apparatus of claim 1, wherein the bridge apparatus further comprises an articulating cab floor configured to mate with the passenger boarding bridge.
6. The bridge apparatus of claim 1, wherein the panel is arranged to engage a top step of a stairway of the aircraft.
7. The bridge apparatus of claim 1, wherein the limiter inhibits cab vertical downward movement when the panel moves beyond a predetermined position.
8. The bridge apparatus of claim 1, wherein the limiter inhibits cab forward movement when the panel moves beyond a predetermined position.
9. The bridge apparatus of claim 3, wherein the second limiter inhibits cab rotate counterclockwise movement when the passenger boarding bridge moves to a predetermined position.
10. The bridge apparatus of claim 3, wherein the second limiter inhibits cab rotate clockwise movement when the passenger boarding bridge moves to a predetermined position.
11. A bridge apparatus for extending between a stationary aircraft and a motorized passenger boarding bridge having an articulating cab floor, the bridge apparatus comprising:
a panel adapted to be movably coupled to the articulating cab floor provided by the passenger boarding bridge and
a limiter configured to inhibit movement of the bridge apparatus in at least one direction when the bridge apparatus reaches a predetermined position relative to the aircraft.
12. The bridge apparatus of claim 11, wherein the bridge apparatus further comprises an articulating cab floor configured to mate with the passenger boarding bridge.
13. The bridge apparatus of claim 11, wherein the limiter communicates with the passenger boarding bridge motor when the panel moves past the predetermined position.
14. The bridge apparatus of claim 11, wherein the bridge apparatus further comprises a second limiter configured to limit movement of the passenger boarding bridge when the passenger boarding bridge moves to a predetermined position.
15. The bridge apparatus of claim 14, wherein the predetermined position is the engagement of one of the limiters with a portion of the aircraft.
16. The bridge apparatus of claim 11, wherein the limiter inhibits cab vertical downward movement when the panel moves beyond a predetermined position.
17. The bridge apparatus of claim 11, wherein the limiter inhibits cab forward movement when the panel moves beyond a predetermined position.
18. The bridge apparatus of claim 14, wherein the second limiter inhibits cab rotate counterclockwise movement when the passenger boarding bridge moves to a predetermined position.
19. The bridge apparatus of claim 14, wherein the second limiter inhibits cab rotate clockwise movement when the passenger boarding bridge moves to a predetermined position.
20. Abridge apparatus for extending between a stationary aircraft and a passenger boarding bridge having a motor and a motor control system comprising:
a panel arranged to be movably secured to an articulating cab floor of the boarding bridge, the panel being movable and positioned to engage a portion of the aircraft,
a limiter in communication with the motor control system and configured to inhibit movement of the boarding bridge in at least one direction when the panel moves to a predetermined position.
21. A bridge apparatus for extending between a passenger boarding bridge and a stationary aircraft having an entry floor, the bridge apparatus comprising
an extension arranged to be pivotally coupled to an attachment edge of the passenger boarding bridge and a panel arranged to be pivotally coupled to one of the extension or the passenger boarding bridge, the extension being pivotal in a generally vertically downward direction relative to the attachment edge.
22. An apparatus for extending between a passenger boarding bridge and a stationary aircraft comprising
an extension arranged for coupling to the passenger boarding bridge
a side rail system including at least one rail unit, a retainer, a retainer receiver sized to receive the retainer, and one of the retainer or the retainer receiver being configured for attachment to one of the passenger boarding bridge or the extension, the retainer configured to be movably secured to the retainer receiver.
23. The apparatus of claim 22, wherein the extension includes an articulating cab floor.
24. The apparatus of claim 23, wherein the side rail system is coupled to the articulating cab floor.
25. The apparatus of claim 22, wherein the rail unit is movable between a bridge moving position and a passenger boarding position.
26. The apparatus of claim 25, wherein the retainer includes at least one peg.
27. The apparatus of claim 26, wherein the retainer receiver includes a plurality of peg engaging walls arranged to inhibit movement of the rail unit from at least one of the stowed, bridge moving or passenger boarding positions.
28. The apparatus of claim 26, wherein the rail unit is removable from the retainer receiver.
29. The apparatus of claim 22, wherein the rail unit includes a generally L-shaped horizontal frame member.
30. The apparatus of claim 29, wherein at least a portion of the L-shaped horizontal frame member extends beyond an edge of the extension when the side rail is in its passenger boarding position.
31. The apparatus of claim 22, wherein the side rail system includes a positioning wand positioned to lie adjacent a predetermined portion of the aircraft when the passenger bridge is in its proper mating position relative to the aircraft.
Description

[0001] This application claims the benefit of the filing date of U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/205,435 filed on May 19, 2000, as to all matters disclosed therein.

Background and Summary

[0002] This application relates generally to passenger boarding bridges for aircraft, and more particularly to passenger boarding bridges with self-leveling floors for mating to aircraft having flip-down doors with stairs incorporated therein.

[0003] It is known to provide passenger boarding bridges with covered walkways between a terminal and an aircraft. The cabs of such aircraft bridges are adjustable vertically to facilitate usage of the aircraft bridge with different models of aircraft. As the cab is adjusted vertically, the terminal end of the aircraft passenger bridge remains at the same height and pivots. Since most major airports have aircraft park facing the terminal and most aircraft have doors on the side of the fuselage, cabs of aircraft passenger bridges are typically rotatable so that the aircraft mating end of the bridge opens at an angle to the walkway.

[0004] When a cab is rotated left or right and is raised or lowered to a height different than the height of the terminal end, the cab floor does not remain horizontal. This causes the cab floor to be at an angle with respect to the floor of the aircraft to which the passenger boarding bridge is mated.

[0005] It is also known to provide passenger boarding bridges with articulating cab floors or self-leveling floors so that the floor of the cab of the passenger bridge is generally level with the floor of the aircraft to which the bridge is mated. Passenger boarding bridges with articulating cab floors are manufactured by several original equipment manufacturers. After-market kits are also available to retrofit passenger boarding bridges with articulating cab floors. One such after-market retrofit kit is available from Ameribridge Services, a division of American Steel Builders, Incorporated, 5425 Poindexter Drive, Indianapolis, Ind.

[0006] As aircraft are loaded and unloaded with passengers, baggage, fuel, and cargo, the aircraft raises and lowers on its undercarriage causing the height of the floor to raise and lower. It is known to provide passenger boarding bridges with automatic height adjustment or autolevel mechanisms which sense vertical movement of the aircraft and automatically adjust the height of the cab of the passenger boarding bridge accordingly. One such autolevel system is available from Ameribridge Services, a division of American Steel Builders, Incorporated, 5425 Poindexter Drive, Indianapolis, Ind.

[0007] Nevertheless, certain models of aircraft do not mate well with currently available passenger boarding bridges. Airlines utilizing such aircraft often require their passengers to walk across the tarmac to embark and disembark from such aircraft. In particular, aircraft having flip-down doors with stairways incorporated therein are not easily serviced by standard passenger boarding bridges. Such aircraft are typically used on shorter or less traveled routes. Among aircraft of this type are the Canadair Regional Jet (CRJ) which has a flip-down door with a stairway built into the door to allow passenger ingress and egress between the plane and a tarmac. The Canadair Regional Jet is becoming popular with major airlines and commuter airlines using major airports having busy tarmacs and runways.

[0008] Allowing passengers to cross the tarmac creates security risks for the airport facility and safety risks for the passengers. Airlines are faced with the prospect of either providing additional personnel to monitor passenger activity on the tarmac or purchasing expensive retrofit kits (or new bridges) adapted to service such aircraft. One such modified passenger boarding bridge is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,761,757 to Mitchell, et al., the disclosure of which is hereby incorporated by reference herein.

[0009] The Mitchell, et al. modified passenger boarding bridge is fairly complex in that a separate slidable section is attached to the cab of the aircraft bridge. The slidable section slides laterally from the cab along the fuselage so that a portion of the slidable section is adjacent the top step of the aircraft. The sliding step requires complex mechanisms and retraining of aircraft bridge operators.

[0010] Known after-market modifications to aircraft passenger bridges do not facilitate adaptation of self-leveling floors or articulating cab floors to servicing aircraft with flip-down doors and stairs.

[0011] One problem with trying to service the Canadair Regional Jet with a standard passenger boarding bridge is that the cab of the boarding bridge may strike the aircraft door, stairway, or cables associated therewith causing damage to these components or to the adjacent fuselage.

[0012] According to the present application an aircraft passenger bridge with an articulating cab floor is provided having an extension with a pivotal section therein wider than the door of the aircraft. The cab of the aircraft bridge is properly aligned with the door of the aircraft and then lowered until the pivotal floor section (or trap door or panel) contacts the top step built into the aircraft door. The extension to the articulating cab floor with pivotal floor section is incorporated into one of an original equipment manufactured aircraft bridge, an after-market conversion to an aircraft bridge having an articulating cab floor, and an after-market add-on to an aircraft passenger bridge to provide the bridge with an articulating cab floor and an extended section having a pivotal floor section.

[0013] A bridge apparatus is provided that extends between a stationary aircraft and a motorized passenger boarding bridge, the bridge apparatus includes a panel configured to be movably coupled to the floor of the passenger boarding bridge and movable between a first position and a second position, and a limiter to inhibit motorized movement of the passenger bridge in at least one direction when the panel moves beyond a predetermined position.

[0014] In another embodiment, an apparatus is provided that includes a side rail system having at least one rail unit, a retainer, and a retainer receiver sized to receive the retainer. One of the retainer or the retainer receiver is configured for attachment to one of the passenger boarding bridge or the extension so that the retainer is movably secured to the retainer receiver.

[0015] Additional features and advantages of the invention will become apparent to those skilled in the art upon consideration of the following detailed description of illustrated embodiments exemplifying the best mode of carrying out the invention as presently perceived.

Brief Description of the Drawings

[0016] In describing the subject matter of this application, reference will made to the following drawings in which:

[0017]FIG. 1 is a plan view of a first embodiment of a modified self-leveling or articulating cab floor (“ACF”) in accordance with the present application showing an extension formed to include a trap door or panel designed to pivot upon contact with a top step of stairway incorporated into a flip-down door on an aircraft and showing a first embodiment of a side rail system;

[0018]FIG. 2 is a sectional view along line 2-2 of FIG. 1 showing the trap door or panel and hinge providing a pivot point for the trap door;

[0019]FIG. 3 is a sectional view along line 3-3 of FIG. 1, showing a retainer receiver for receiving a side rail, with the rail unit receiving opening shown in phantom lines;

[0020]FIG. 4 is a plan view of a second embodiment of an after-market add-on extension to an ACF (shown in phantom lines) in accordance with the present application showing the extension formed to include a trap door or panel designed to pivot upon contact with the top step of stairway incorporated into a flip down door on an aircraft and showing a second embodiment of the side rail system;

[0021]FIG. 5 is a sectional view of an aircraft bridge with a trap door or panel including extension preparing for mating with an aircraft having a flip down door with a stairway incorporated therein;

[0022]FIG. 6 is a view similar to FIG. 5 showing a later stage in the mating of the aircraft bridge with the aircraft at the instant the trap door or panel engages the top step of the stairway;

[0023]FIG. 7 is a view similar to FIG. 6 at a later stage in the mating when the trap door or panel has been pivoted upwardly by the top stair of the stairway;

[0024]FIG. 8a is a plan view of the first embodiment of the side rail.

[0025]FIG. 8b is a front view of the side rail of FIG. 8a;

[0026]FIG. 8c is a side view of the side rail of FIG. 8a;

[0027]FIG. 8d is a plan view of a retainer receiver for the side rail of FIG. 8a;

[0028]FIG. 8e is a front view of the receiver of FIG. 8d;

[0029]FIG. 9 is a top view of an after-market ACF retrofit kit with an extension having a trap door or panel to facilitate serving of an aircraft with a flip down door having a stairway incorporated therein showing the floor with the extension and hardware for mounting the floor to an existing passenger boarding bridge;

[0030]FIG. 10 is a top view of the hardware of FIG. 9;

[0031]FIG. 11 is an end view of the adjustable end of the ACF of FIG. 9;

[0032]FIG. 12 is a view of the underside of the ACF of FIG. 9 showing a resistive floor heater;

[0033]FIG. 13 is a front view of the after-market ACF retrofit kit of FIG. 9 with the trap door or panel pivoted upwardly to reveal downwardly extending switch actuator, a centrally mounted contact switch for indicating that the trap door or panel has contacted the top step of the stairway, and left and right kill switches for selectively inhibiting cab movement in the event of inadvertent contact with the aircraft door;

[0034]FIG. 14 is a perspective view similar to FIG. 13 showing the switch actuator, centrally mounted contact switch, the right kill switch;

[0035]FIG. 15 is a view of the switch actuator engaging the centrally mounted contact switch when the trap door or panel is in its lowered position;

[0036]FIG. 16 is a perspective view of a third embodiment of the side rail system showing a rail unit engaging the floor and received in a retainer;

[0037]FIG. 17 is a perspective view of the side rail system of FIG. 16 showing the rail unit removed from the floor and receiver;

[0038]FIG. 18 is a perspective view of a portion of the side rail system of FIG. 16 showing a close-up view of the rail unit positioned to be received in the receiver;

[0039]FIG. 19 is a perspective view of a portion of the side rail system of FIG. 16 showing a close-up view showing the retainer and pegs;

[0040]FIG. 20 is bottom view of a portion of the side rail system of FIG. 16 showing a close-up view of the bottom of the retainer;

[0041]FIG. 21 is a perspective view of a floor having a receiver positioned to receive a hand rail and showing the peg engagement walls and rail unit receiving opening;

[0042]FIG. 22 is a plan view of the receiver shown in FIG. 21;

[0043]FIG. 23 is a perspective view of a side of a fixed safety side rail including a storage socket to receive the rail unit when the rail unit is removed from the receiver;

[0044]FIG. 24 is a perspective view of a portion of the fixed rail of FIG. 23 showing the storage socket, a rail unit receiving opening, and peg engaging walls; and

[0045]FIG. 25 is a top view of a portion of the fixed rail of FIG. 23 showing the storage socket, a rail unit receiving opening, and peg engaging walls.

[0046]FIG. 26 shows an interconnection diagram for the Articulating Cab floor provided with the extension for docking to an aircraft;

[0047]FIGS. 27a-c, show an electrical schematic of the control system for an aircraft bridge with an articulating floor having an extension for docking to an aircraft;

[0048]FIG. 27a shows a cab rotate motor provided with a reversing contactor to provide the cab rotate right (or clockwise) and cab rotate left (or counterclockwise) functions of the aircraft bridge;

[0049]FIG. 28 is a schematic of a low voltage and warning circuit showing the kill switches and indicators of the alternative control system.

[0050]FIG. 29 is a schematic of the cab rotate function.

[0051]FIG. 30 is a schematic of the horizontal drive function.

[0052]FIG. 31 is a schematic of the vertical drive function.

[0053]FIG. 32 is a perspective view of the safety side rails of FIG. 16 shown in a passenger boarding position with barriers extending from the rail units;

[0054]FIG. 33 is a perspective view of the side rails of FIG. 32 shown in a bridge moving position and showing left and right portions of a windblock;

[0055]FIG. 34 is a perspective view of a portion of side rails similar to those of FIG. 32 showing a positioning wand;

[0056]FIG. 35 is a perspective view of the side rails of FIG. 34 shown in a passenger boarding position with barriers extending between the rail units and a fixed rail or a wall of the passenger boarding bridge;

[0057]FIG. 36 is a perspective view of the windblock showing an upper portion of the windblock;

[0058]FIG. 37 is a side view of the right portion of the windblock of FIG. 33

Detailed Description of the Drawings

[0059] An aircraft passenger boarding bridge adapted for servicing an aircraft having a flip-down door with a stairway incorporated therein, such as a Canadair Regional Jet, according to the subject matter of the present application maybe an original equipment manufactured aircraft passenger boarding bridge, an after-market conversion to an aircraft passenger boarding bridge having an articulating cab floor, or an after-market add-on to an aircraft passenger boarding bridge to provide the bridge with an articulating cab floor and an extended section having a pivotal floor section. Each of these embodiments of the bridge apparatus in this application may be provided provide a cab with an articulating cab floor having a portion extending beyond the standard floor of the passenger boarding bridge. A panel, trap door, or section of the extension pivots upwardly upon contact with the top stair of the aircraft to prevent the weight of the bridge from damaging the door, stairway, or other portions of the aircraft.

[0060] Referring to FIGS. 1-3, an after-market articulating cab floor (“ACF”) retrofit kit 10 to adapt an existing passenger boarding bridge to service an aircraft having a flip-down door with incorporated stairway is illustrated. After-market retrofit kits to provide an existing passenger boarding bridge with an ACF and the method of attaching such after-market ACF kits to existing passenger boarding bridges are known. After-market ACF retrofit kit 10 is attached to an existing passenger boarding bridge in the same or similar manner as known after-market ACF retrofit kits. Installation instructions for an after-market ACF retrofit kit available from Ameribridge Services, a Division of American Steel Builders Incorporated, 5425 Poindexter Drive, Indianapolis, Ind.

[0061] As shown in FIG. 1, after-market ACF retrofit kit 10, includes a substantially triangular articulating floor section 12, a hinge or strip 14 for pivotally or movably mating the articulating floor section 12 to an existing cab floor 16, leveling mechanisms 18 for leveling the articulating floor section 12, and an extension 20 adapting the articulating floor section 12 for mating with an aircraft having a flip-down door with incorporated stairway. Articulating floor section 12 includes an attachment side 22, an aircraft-facing side 24, and a third side 26. Hinge or strip 14 extends along and is mounted at one strip side or hinge plate 23 to attachment side 22 of articulating floor section 12. When after-market ACF retrofit kit 10 is installed in an existing passenger boarding bridge, the other hinge plate or strip side 25 of hinge or strip 14 is pivotally or movably mated or coupled with existing cab floor 16. A reinforcing C-shaped frame member 28 extends longitudinally along aircraft-facing side 24 of articulating floor section 12. In passenger boarding bridges equipped with ACFs, C-shaped frame member 28 receives a bumper for engaging an aircraft.

[0062] As shown in FIG. 1, after-market retrofit kit 10 is configured for installation on the existing cab floor 16 so that the C-shaped frame member 28 of articulating floor section 12 extends slightly beyond the original bridge channel 30. Extension 20 is attached to C-shaped frame member 28 of articulating floor member.

[0063] As shown in FIG. 1, extension 20 includes a first section 32, a trap door or panel 34, a continuous hinge 36, a first bumper section 38, a second bumper section 40, and a trap door or panel bumper 42. Illustratively, first section 32 is coupled to articulating floor 12 by a continuous hinge 44 and to C-shaped frame member 28 by welding. As shown in FIG.3, first section 32 includes a plurality of tubes 46, a steel plate 48, and a C-shaped frame member 50. As shown in FIG. 1, first section 32 is formed to include a rectangular aperture or opening 52 for receipt of trap door or panel 34. Trap door or panel 34 includes a floor section 54 (illustratively a steel plate), a rectangular frame 56 (formed illustratively from square tubing), and a downwardly extending switch actuator 58, as shown in FIG. 2.

[0064] Trap door or panel 34 is pivotally mounted along a proximate edge 35 by continuous hinge 36 within opening or aperture 52. Tubes 46 adjacent aperture or opening 52 are formed to include laterally extending lips 60 (best seen in FIG. 14) on which frame 56 of trap door or panel 34 rests to prevent downward rotation of trap door or panel 34. Illustratively, bumper 42 is mounted to distal edge 37 of trap door or panel 34 by a bolt as shown in FIG. 2.

[0065] Extension 20 illustratively includes a first limiter or contact switch 62, a right limiter or kill switch 64, and a left limiter or kill switch 66. Although limiters 62, 64, and 66 are disclosed as contact or kill switches in illustrative embodiments, other known devices to limit automated movement of the cab floor or provide an operator an indication of the position of the passenger boarding bridge relative to the aircraft are within the scope of this disclosure.

[0066] Illustratively, contact switch or first limiter 62 is mounted to C-shaped frame member 28 centrally within opening or aperture 52 and is positioned so that its switch contact 64 is contacted by actuator 58 when trap door or panel 34 is in its lowered position, i.e. when trap door or panel frame 56 is resting on lip 60, as shown in FIG. 5. In illustrated embodiments, contact or kill switch or first limiter 62 is biased to be a normally closed switch and is held open by the weight of the trap door or panel 34 forcing the actuator 58 into engagement with the switch contact 64. As shown in FIG. 7, when the trap door or panel is lifted, such as by engaging top step 94 of a stairway in an aircraft having a flip-down door, switch 62 closes. Contact switch 62 is illustratively coupled to an indicator light in the cab of the passenger boarding bridge to provide the bridge operator with an indication that contact has been made with top step 94. Upon movement of trap door or panel 34 past a predetermined position, motorized movement of the passenger boarding bridge is inhibited in at least a downward direction.

[0067] Trap door or panel 34 and opening or aperture 52 are both sized to provide lateral clearance around the door of an aircraft to be serviced. Illustratively, right and left limiters or kill switches 64, 66 extend at an angle between the back and the right and left sides respectively of aperture 52, as shown for example in FIG. 13. Limiters or contact switches or kill switches 62, 64, 66 are provided to render certain functions or motorized movements of the passenger bridge inoperable when the switches inadvertently contact portions of the aircraft, such as the door, as described more fully below.

[0068] Typical passenger boarding bridges have a plurality of motors that assist an operator in moving the passenger boarding bridge to a position proximate a stationary aircraft to assist in servicing the aircraft, loading, and unloading passengers. The cabs of such passenger boarding bridges (modified versions of which are shown in FIGS. 27-31) typically include a control system that cooperates with the motors to move the cab in several directions relative to the stationary aircraft parked at a terminal. The directions of movement of the cab with respect to the aircraft or functions of the cab include the cab forward direction or function (where the cab moves generally toward the aircraft), the cab vertical downward direction or function (in which the cab moves generally toward the ground), and the cab rotate clockwise and counterclockwise directions or functions (in which the cab moves generally right and left, respectively, with respect to the aircraft or the cab pivots generally about a vertical axis extending through a portion of the passenger boarding bridge).

[0069] Illustratively, both limiters or kill switches 64, 66 render the cab forward function (i.e. moving toward or getting closer to the aircraft) and cab vertical downward function (i.e. lowering the cab) inoperable when contacted. Further illustratively, right kill switch 64 also renders inoperable the cab rotate clockwise function when contacted. Similarly, left kill switch 66 renders inoperable the cab rotate counter-clockwise function. Therefore when a kill switch is engaged, the cab operator can only cause the cab to move in directions likely to cause disengagement of the passenger loading bridge from the aircraft.

[0070] Though extension 20 has been described herein as including limiters or contact or kill switches, it is within the scope of this disclosure to provide other devices known to prevent automated or motorized movement of the passenger boarding bridge, articulating cab floor, or extension. It is further within the scope of this disclosure to provide a member that cooperates with the limiters or kill switches to inhibit movement of the passenger boarding bridge.

[0071] Illustratively, additional features are also provided for passenger safety in after-market ACF retrofit kit 10. Adjacent aperture or opening 52, removable safety side rails 70 are provided. In a first embodiment, as shown in FIGS. 1, 8a-8 e, and 16-25, side rail system or side rails 70 include left and right rail units 172, 174. Each rail unit 172, 174 includes a retainer 176 that engages existing floor 16, extension 20, or a receiver 180 provided in either of these. As shown in FIGS. 19 and 20, a preferred embodiment of retainer 176 includes one or more pegs 178 sized to be removably received in retainer receiver 180 coupled to extension 20.

[0072] As shown in FIGS. 3 and 21-22, retainer receivers 180 include a sleeve or plug 179 coupled to a connector 182 configured to couple to extension 20 or tubes 46 or plate 48, and a rail unit receiving opening 184 sized to receive rail units 172, 174. Illustratively, retainer receivers 180 further include an outer member 181 defining an inner opening 183 and a plurality of peg-engaging walls 185 defining outer openings 187.

[0073] Illustratively, to assemble the retainer receivers, an aperture is provided by extension 20 of a size to receive sleeve or plug 179. Sleeve or plug179 is then inserted through the aperture and is positioned so that connector 182 is adjacent an underside of extension 20 or tubes 46 or plate 48. An end of sleeve or plug 179 is illustratively permitted to extend above the surface of extension 20. Next, outer member 181 is secured to extension 20 or in the aperture provided therein so that sleeve or plug 179 is positioned in inner opening 183. Further illustratively, proper clearance between sleeve or plug 179 and the edge of inner opening 183 is checked and then sleeve or plug 179 and/or connector 182 is coupled to extension 20, tubes 46, or plate 48. Although the retainer and retainer receiver have been described illustratively, it is within the scope of this disclosure, to provide known methods of retaining side rails 70 in extension 20 and permit movement of the side rails between the bridge moving and passenger boarding positions. It is further within the teaching of this disclosure to couple the retainer to extension 20 and the retainer receiver to rail units 172, 174.

[0074] Any of retainer 176, pegs 178, receiver 180, or rail units 172, 174 may optionally be made from a material that permits the retainer to more easily flex or break away if a load exerted on either of rail units 172, 174 exceeds a predetermined level. This flex or break away feature prevents potential damage to the aircraft if, for example, an operator maneuvers the passenger boarding bridge or articulating cab floor so that side rails 70 contact aircraft 82.

[0075] Also in preferred embodiments, rail units 172, 174 are movably secured to retainer receiver 180 in extension 20 Rail units 172, 174 are movable between a bridge moving position as shown in FIG. 33 and a passenger boarding position as shown in FIG. 32. Rail units 172, 174 are further illustratively removable from retainer receivers 180, and may be inserted into a storage socket 250 of a fixed rail 72. As illustrated in FIGS. 8a-8 c, each rail 172, 174 includes a first vertical frame member 190 coupled to retainer 176 and having a pivot axis 192 extending longitudinally through first member 190. A plurality of generally L-shaped horizontal frame members 194 extend from first vertical frame member 190 and are coupled to a second vertical frame member 196, providing side rails 70 generally with an L-shape when observed from a top view such as FIG. 8a. When the side rails 70 are in the bridge moving position, left and right second vertical frame members 196 are proximate each other, as shown in FIG. 33, to discourage persons from stepping beyond the edge of the passenger boarding bridge. When side rails 70 are in the passenger boarding position, second vertical frame members 196 and portions of horizontal frame members 194 extend into the doorway of aircraft 82, as shown in FIG. 32.

[0076] In operation, rail units are preferably positioned in the bridge moving position or the bridge moving position when the passenger boarding bridge is not mated with an aircraft. To move the side rails 70 to the passenger boarding position from the bridge moving position, such as when the passenger boarding bridge is mated with a stationary aircraft, an operator lifts each rail unit 172, 174 until retainer 176 disengages retainer receiver 180. The operator then rotates each rail unit about axis 192 into its passenger boarding position, extending into the doorway of aircraft 82. Finally, the operator lowers the rail unit until retainer 176 once again engages retainer receiver 180 so that the rail unit is movably secured in the passenger boarding position.

[0077] Conventionally, when removable handrails are removed from their receptacles, cavities having the diameter or external shape of the rails are exposed in the floor. To prevent accidental injury to a user of the passenger boarding bridge, caps are provided for insertion into the cavity to prevent, for example, a portion of a shoe from entering the cavity. These caps are often lost or operators forget to insert the caps when hand rails are removed.

[0078] In one embodiment, rail units 172, 174 are illustratively made from pipes or tubing having a wall 159 and an inside diameter and outside diameter, as shown for example in FIGS. 16-20. As shown in FIGS. 21-22, retainer receiver 180 includes generally cylindrical plug 179 and outer member 181. Plug 179 has an outer diameter 151. Outer member 181 is illustratively a ring-shaped plate having an inside diameter greater than the outside diameter of rail units 172, 174. Preferably, outer member 181 is positioned so that inner opening 183 is generally concentric about plug 179. Plug 179 provides a surface 153 that is generally coplanar with extension 20 or ACF floor 16.

[0079] Referring now to FIGS. 16-22, inside diameter 155 of wall 159 is greater than outer diameter 157 of plug 179. Surface 153 is sized to be received by wall 159. Illustratively, in operation, surface 153 does not inhibit movement of rail unit 172, 174 among the stowed, passenger boarding, or bridge moving positions. In an illustrative embodiment, surface 153 and outer member 181 provide a non-slip surface. In the present design, as shown in FIGS. 21-22, surface 153 prevents, for example, a portion of a shoe from entering any cavity provided by sleeve or plug 179.

[0080] In one embodiment, as shown in FIG. 34, side rails 70 include a positioning wand 200 coupled to at least one of rail units 172, 174 to assist an operator with lining up positioning wand 200 with a predetermined portion of the aircraft. As used in the application, including the claims, the term “passenger boarding position” applies generally to a position limiting access to the space between the passenger boarding bridge and the aircraft, for example the position shown in FIG. 32.

[0081] As shown in FIG. 35, fixed safety side rails 72 are also provided for mounting to the existing floor 16 or generally to the floor of the passenger boarding bridge. Nylon barriers 74 arranged to be coupled to barrier connectors 69 provided by side rails 70 and fixed side rails 72. are illustratively provided to extend between respective movable safety rails 70 and fixed safety side rails 72 to funnel passengers away from openings and other areas of risk in the passenger boarding bridge. However, any method of limiting passage through the space between fixed side rails 72 and removable side rails 70 is within the scope of this disclosure. As detailed above, rail units 172, 174 are illustratively removable from retainer receivers 180, and may be inserted into a storage socket 250 of fixed rails 72. Fixed rail 72 includes a base 260 to which storage socket 250 is coupled. Storage socket defines a rail unit receiver 262 and a plurality of peg receivers 264. In an illustrative embodiment, as shown in FIGS. 23-25, eight peg receivers are provided for a greater flexibility in positioning the rail units in multiple stowed positions, however any number of peg receivers 264 may be provided to accommodate pegs 178 in the stowed position. It is further within the scope of this disclosure to include any number and arrangement of pegs and peg receivers or other known methods of retaining the rail units in the stowed position.

[0082] Referring to FIG. 26 there is shown an interconnection diagram for the Articulating Cab floor provided with the extension for docking to a Canadian Regional Jet. In order to control the functions of the cab drive of the aircraft bridge upon contact, either desirable or undesirable, of the extension with the aircraft, a left switch relay 302 and right switch relay 304 are provided. Each switch relay 302 and 304 contains several contacts designated 1-12 and A and B to which various switches and indicators are coupled. Each line attached to a contact of switch relays 302 and 304 includes a tag number indicating that a switch or indicator associated with the same tag number is coupled to that contact. For instance, as shown in FIG. 26, a floor engaged indicator light 306 is coupled at one lead to the B contacts of both switch relays 302 and 304. The B contacts of switch relays 302 and 304 are also coupled to a Handrail Contact indicator light 308, a Cab Floor in Manual indicator light 310 and a sonalert 312 so that visual and audible alerts are provided to the cab operator upon engagement of portions of the extension and aircraft bridge with an object. Once contact between the aircraft bridge and an object has occurred causing the cab floor to be placed in manual mode, the floor may only be raised or lowered by actuating a raise push button switch 314 or a lower push button switch 316.

[0083] Referring to FIGS. 27a-c, there is shown an electrical schematic of the control system for an aircraft bridge with an articulating floor having an extension for docking to a Canadian Regional Jet. In the illustrated embodiment, the aircraft bridge is provided with a cab having the standard cab rotate right, cab rotate left, cab forward, cab reverse, cab up and cab down functions, an auto leveling function as well as other various power conversion, control and indicator functions. While components required for operation of a standard aircraft bridge with articulating floor are illustrated in FIGS. 27a-c, those components are well known in the art and will not be specifically described unless modified to accommodate the extension disclosed herein.

[0084] As shown in FIG. 27a, a cab rotate motor 318 is provided with a reversing contactor 320 to provide the cab rotate right and cab rotate left functions of the aircraft bridge. Similarly, a vertical drive motor 322 is provided with a reversing contactor 324 to provide the cab up and cab down functions of the aircraft bridge. As shown in FIG. 27b, a left horizontal drive motor 326 and right horizontal drive motor 328 provide the cab forward and cab reverse functions. As shown in FIGS. 27a-c, cab rotate motor 318, vertical drive motor 322 and horizontal drive motors 326, 328 are configured to operate in a known manner but are additionally controlled by signals received from limiter, contact, or kill switch (designated “hinged floor microswitch” in FIG. 27b) 62, right kill switch (designated “left floor cut-out tape switch” in FIG. 27b) 64, and left kill switch (designated “right floor cut-out tape switch” in FIG. 27b) 66. In FIGS. 27a-c, right and left kill switches 64, 66 are shown in there normally open position and right and left switch relays 302, 304 are shown in their normally closed state closing circuits to the cab functions. Upon closure of a kill switch 64, 66 the switch relay to which the switch is coupled changes state to an open state to open the circuit controlling the cab function.

[0085] Illustratively, contact switch 62 is a normally open microswitch coupled at one lead to contact 9 of both left and right switch relays 302 and 304 and at the other lead to the floor engaged indicator 306. This provides a visual indication to the operator that the panel of extension 20 has engaged an object, preferably top step 94 of the aircraft.

[0086] Illustratively right kill switch 64 is coupled at one lead to contact 9 of both left and right switch relays 302 and 304 and at the other lead to contact A of left switch relay 302. As shown in FIG. 27b, through contacts 7 and 11 of left relay switch 302, right kill switch 64 disables the cab rotate right function, thereby prohibiting further rotation of the cab in the direction that will increase the pressure on right kill switch 64. Additionally, once contact is made with the right kill switch 64, it is preferable that the cab down function be deactivated. Through contacts 12 and 8 of left switch relay 302, right kill switch 64 disables the vertical drive down or cab down function of the aircraft bridge, as shown, for example in FIG. 27c. Also, once contact is made with the right kill switch 64, it is preferable that the cab not be allowed to move forward into the aircraft. Through contacts 6 and 10 of left switch relay 302, right kill switch 64 disables the horizontal drive forward function of the aircraft bridge, as shown, for example in FIG. 27b. Upon right kill switch 64 coming in contact with an object, it is assumed that that object will be the handrail of the aircraft, therefore the handrail contact indicator 308 is illuminated, flasher 309 is activated, and sonalert 312 is activated by left switch relay 302 to warn the operator.

[0087] Illustratively left kill switch 66 is coupled at one lead to contact 9 of both left and right switch relays 302 and 304 and at the other lead to contact A of right switch relay 304. As shown in FIG. 27b, through contacts 7 and 11 of right relay switch 304, left kill switch 66 disables the cab rotate left function, thereby prohibiting further rotation of the cab in the direction that will increase the pressure on left kill switch 66. Additionally, once contact is made with left kill switch 66, it is preferable that the cab down function be deactivated. Through contacts 12 and 8 of right switch relay 304, left kill switch 66 disables the vertical drive down or cab down function of the aircraft bridge, as shown, for example in FIG. 27c. Also, once contact is made with the left kill switch 66, it is preferable that the cab not be allowed to move forward into the aircraft. Through contacts 6 and 10 of right switch relay 304, left kill switch 66 disables the horizontal drive forward function of the aircraft bridge, as shown, for example in FIG. 27b. Upon left kill switch 66 coming in contact with an object, it is assumed that that object will be the handrail of the aircraft, therefore the handrail contact indicator 308 is illuminated, flasher 309 is activated, and sonalert 312 is activated by right switch relay 304 to warn the operator.

[0088]FIGS. 28, 29, 30, and 31 are schematics of an alternative control system for the cab vertical, cab horizontal, and cab rotate functions for an aircraft bridge equipped with an extension for mating to a Canadian Regional Jet. FIG. 28 is a schematic of a low voltage and warning circuit showing the kill switches 62, 64, 66 and indicators 406, 408, 409, 412 of the control alternative control system. FIG. 29 is a schematic of the cab rotate function. FIG. 30 is a schematic of the horizontal drive function. FIG. 31 is a schematic of the vertical drive function. The alternative control system substantially similar to the control system for an aircraft bridge with an articulating floor having an extension for docking to a Canadian Regional Jet shown in FIGS. 27 and 28a-c and therefore, similar reference numerals will be used for similar components.

[0089] Illustratively, contact switch 62 is a normally open microswitch coupled at one lead to the positive terminal of a 115/12 VDC 401 and at the other lead to a floor switch relay 403 that is coupled to the negative terminal of power supply 401. Through floor switch relay 403, contact switch 62 is coupled to floor engaged indicator 406. This provides a visual indication to the operator that the panel of extension 20 has engaged an object, preferably top step 94 of the aircraft. It is also preferable that upon panel of extension 20 engaging top step 94 of the aircraft that the cab down function be disabled. As shown in FIG. 31, contact switch 62 disables the cab down function by opening floor switch relay 403 upon the closing of contact switch 62.

[0090] Illustratively right kill switch 64 is coupled at one lead to the positive terminal of a 115/12 VDC 401 and at the other lead to a left switch relay 402 that is coupled to the negative terminal of power supply 401. As shown in FIG. 29, through left relay switch 402, right kill switch 64 upon closing disables the cab rotate right function, thereby prohibiting further rotation of the cab in the direction that will increase the pressure on right kill switch 64. Additionally, once contact is made with the right kill switch 64, it is preferable that the cab down function be deactivated. Through left switch relay 402, right kill switch 64 disables the vertical drive down or cab down function of the aircraft bridge, as shown, for example in FIG. 31. Also, once contact is made with the right kill switch 64, it is preferable that the cab not be allowed to move forward into the aircraft. Through left switch relay 402, right kill switch 64 disables the horizontal drive forward function of the aircraft bridge, as shown, for example in FIG. 30. Upon right kill switch 64 coming in contact with an object, it is assumed that that object will be the handrail of the aircraft, therefore the handrail contact indicator 408 is illuminated, flasher 409 is activated, and sonalert 412 is activated by left switch relay 402 to warn the operator.

[0091] Illustratively left kill switch 66 is coupled at one lead to the positive terminal of a 115/12 VDC 401 and at the other lead to a right switch relay 404 that is coupled to the negative terminal of power supply 401. As shown in FIG. 29, through right relay switch 404, left kill switch 66 disables the cab rotate left function, thereby prohibiting further rotation of the cab in the direction that will increase the pressure on left kill switch 66. Additionally, once contact is made with left kill switch 66, it is preferable that the cab down function be deactivated. Through right switch relay 404, left kill switch 66 disables the vertical drive down or cab down function of the aircraft bridge, as shown, for example in FIG. 31. Also, once contact is made with the left kill switch 66, it is preferable that the cab not be allowed to move forward into the aircraft. Through right switch relay 404, left kill switch 66 disables the horizontal drive forward function of the aircraft bridge, as shown, for example in FIG. 30. Upon left kill switch 66 coming in contact with an object, it is assumed that that object will be the handrail of the aircraft, therefore the handrail contact indicator 408 is illuminated, flasher 409 is activated, and sonalert 412 is activated by right switch relay 404 to warn the operator.

[0092] Illustratively, to prevent passengers from slipping, existing floor 16, articulating floor 12, and extension 20 are covered with a rubber mat 76. Resistive heater 78 (best seen in FIG. 12) is mounted to the underside of articulating floor 12 to melt snow and facilitate evaporation of liquids from the articulating floor 12.

[0093] As shown in FIGS. 33, 36 and 37, windblocks 80 may also be provided, for example, to prevent wind and rain from entering the cab when the passenger boarding bridge is servicing an aircraft. Illustratively, windblocks 80 are formed to engage aircraft 82 and accommodate various features of the aircraft, such as antennae, that extend from the outer shell of the aircraft fuselage. In preferred embodiments, windblocks 80 include an internal foam core (not shown) and an external cover 282. A fastener system 284 is coupled to windblock 80 for securing the windblock to the passenger boarding bridge.

[0094] In an illustrative embodiment, windblocks 80 include left and right side portions 285, 286 and an upper portion 287 (shown unattached in FIG. 36) having first, second, and third upper sections 292, 293, 294. Second section 293 has a thinner profile that first and third sections 292, 294 so that when second section 293 is positioned between first section 292 and third section 294, a gap or space 295 is provided between, for example, the first and second, and the second and third sections. Each section may be positioned to provide gaps or spaces 295 sized to receive the features extending from the aircraft previously described.

[0095] Referring to FIG. 4, an extension retrofit kit 120 for adapting a passenger boarding bridge equipped with an ACF is shown. Extension retrofit kit 120 is substantially similar to the extension 20 of after-market ACF retrofit kit 10. Therefore, the above description equally applies to extension retrofit kit 120 and such extension retrofit kit will not be described in detail here. Identical reference numerals point to similar components in extension retrofit kit 120 and after-market ACF retrofit kit 10. Extension retrofit kit 120 allows an existing passenger boarding bridge equipped with an ACF floor to be adapted for servicing an aircraft having a flip-down door with a stairway incorporated therein.

[0096] Although not illustrated, those skilled in the art will recognize that an entire passenger boarding bridge with an ACF floor and an extension with a trap door or panel as described above is within the scope of the teaching of this disclosure.

[0097] Referring to FIGS. 5-7, the operation of the illustrated and non-illustrated embodiments of the subject matter of this application when servicing an aircraft 82 with a flip-down door 84 with a stairway 86 incorporated therein is shown. Illustratively, aircraft 82 is a Canadair Regional Jet (“CRJ”). The CRJ 82 has a collapsible handrail 88 (which may be raised when the passengers embark or disembark via the tarmac) and a cable 90. As shown, for example, in FIG. 5, the cab 92 of the passenger boarding bridge is initially maneuvered by an operator into a position wherein the aperture 58 and trap door or panel 34 extend on both sides of the flip-down door 84. In many passenger boarding bridges, an alignment mark is provided on the floor 16 of the cab for alignment with a mark provided on the aircraft. This same system can be used in the disclosed subject matter of this application to minimize any operational differences between standard passenger boarding bridges from passenger boarding bridges with the disclosed extension.

[0098] From the position in FIG. 5, the cab 92 is maneuvered forward in the direction of arrow 96 using the cab forward function causing the cable 90 to be deflected until the trap door or panel 34 is over the top step 94 of the aircraft 82. The cab 92 is then maneuvered downwardly in the direction of arrow 98 using the cab vertical down function causing further deflection of cable 90. At the instant of contact of the trap door or panel 34 with the top step 94, shown in FIG. 6, actuator 58 continues to depress switch contact 64 of limiter or contact switch 62, illustratively causing an open circuit which prevents a contact light in the cab from illuminating. Additional downward movement of cab 92 causes top step 94 of aircraft 82 to push upwardly on trap door or panel 34 inducing the trap door or panel to pivot about hinge 36. This pivoting motion of trap door or panel 34 induces actuator 58 to disengage switch contact 64, as shown for example in FIG. 7, closing switch 62 so that a circuit is closed causing a contact light in the cab to illuminate. Upon illumination of the contact light the bridge operator ceases to control the passenger boarding bridge manually and docking is complete. Contact switch or limiter 62 may inhibit motorized movement of the cab floor or passenger boarding bridge in certain directions, preferably the cab forward and cab vertical downward directions, when trap door or panel 34 moves or pivots beyond a predetermined position.

[0099] Leveling of the ACF and adjustment of the height of the cab to accommodate changes in the height of the aircraft 82 as a result of increased and decreased loads is accomplished in the known manner. As shown in FIG. 7, extension 20 or 120 also aids in conforming the cab of the passenger boarding bridge to accommodate the smaller fuselage diameters common in regional and commuter jets.

[0100] While described as being used for docking to a CRJ, the disclosed subject matter may be used with any type of aircraft 82 having a flip-down door 84 with a stairway 86 incorporated therein so long as any handrail 88 is adjustable to not interfere with the operation of the subject matter of this application. Further, the disclosed subject matter may be used with any type of aircraft having doorways configured to cooperate with the subject matter of the present application.

[0101] Although the invention has been described in detail with reference to certain preferred embodiments, variations and modifications exist within the scope and spirit of the present invention as described and defined in the following claims.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7069613 *Jun 30, 2004Jul 4, 2006Dew Engineering And Development LimitedMethod and apparatus for aligning an aircraft with a passenger loading bridge
US8555444 *Apr 25, 2011Oct 15, 2013China International Marine Containers (Group) Co., Ltd.Joint equipment and boarding bridge having the same
US20110258787 *Apr 25, 2011Oct 27, 2011Shenzhen Cimc-Tianda Airport Support Ltd.Joint equipment and boarding bridge having the same
DE102011111446A1 *Aug 30, 2011Feb 28, 2013Losch Airport Equipment GmbhFeeder device i.e. lift, for aircraft, has sensor for detecting mounting of aircraft door on platform of device such that acoustic and/or optical warning signal transmitter is operated when airplane door is mounted on platform
WO2008115170A1 *Mar 16, 2007Sep 25, 2008John DomenicoMethod, device and apparatus for rapid and safe ground power deployment for arriving aircraft
WO2014040462A1 *Aug 9, 2013Mar 20, 2014Shenzhen Cimc-Tianda Airport Support Ltd.Boarding bridge pick-up port device and boarding bridge having same and pick-up method
Classifications
U.S. Classification14/71.1
International ClassificationB64F1/305
Cooperative ClassificationB64F1/305
European ClassificationB64F1/305
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Jan 18, 2002ASAssignment
Owner name: AMERICAN STEEL BUILDERS, INC., INDIANA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:SLOAN, GARY E.;SLOAN, DUSTIN E.;HARRINGTON, ROBERT B.;AND OTHERS;REEL/FRAME:012505/0050
Effective date: 20010919