Search Images Maps Play YouTube News Gmail Drive More »
Sign in
Screen reader users: click this link for accessible mode. Accessible mode has the same essential features but works better with your reader.

Patents

  1. Advanced Patent Search
Publication numberUS3893538 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateJul 8, 1975
Filing dateAug 10, 1970
Priority dateAug 10, 1970
Publication numberUS 3893538 A, US 3893538A, US-A-3893538, US3893538 A, US3893538A
InventorsExecutrix Dorothy B Thompson, J Dale Thompson
Original AssigneeExecutrix Dorothy B Thompson, J Dale Thompson
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Ground effects vehicle and an air terminal
US 3893538 A
Abstract
This invention is directed to a ground effects vehicle capable of resting on and moving on a cushion of gas such as air or nitrogen or other suitable gases. This ground effects vehicle is capable of moving and maneuvering heavy objects over a relatively smooth terrain such as concrete and asphalt and, also, over an unfriendly terrain such as a rough terrain like earth and terrains with a low load-carrying capability such as soft ground, a marsh, snow and relatively thin concrete.
Images(12)
Previous page
Next page
Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent 191 Thompson, deceased et al.

1 GROUND EFFECTS VEHICLE AND AN AIR TERMINAL [76] Inventors: .1. Dale Thompson, deceased, late of Seattle, Wash; Dorothy B. Thompson, executrix, 3265 41st. Southwest, Seattle, Wash. 981 I6 [22] Filed: Aug. 10, 1970 [21] Appl. No.: 62,307

[52] US. Cl. 180/117; 180/119; 244/50; 244/114; 180/118; 104/23 FS [51] Int. Cl. 860v l/04; B60v 3/00 [58] Field of Search 180/116-121; 214/85; 244/114, 5 D; 14/71, 72; 104/23 FS [56] References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 3,162,404 12/1964 Squire 244/114 R 3,182,343 5/1965 Larson 14/72 3,270,827 9/1966 Mant1e......... 180/117 3,273,833 9/1966 Windecker... 244/124 X 3,342,279 9/1967 Downhill...... 180/120 3,380,690 4/1968 Rego .1 244/114 R 1 July 8, 1975 3,419,164 12/1968 O'Neill 180/125 X 3,508,838 4/1970 Martenson... 181/33 R 3,541,743 11/1970 Kness 14/71 3,589,058 6/1971 Labat.... 180/117 3,613,821 10/1971 Kerr 180/125 3,648,799 3/1972 Young et a1. 180/121 FOREIGN PATENTS OR APPLICATIONS 782,892 4/1968 Canada 180/125 895,341 5/1962 United Kingdom 244/114 Primary Examiner-Kenneth H. Betts 5 7 ABSTRACT This invention is directed to a ground effects vehicle capable of resting on and moving on a cushion of gas such as air or nitrogen or other suitable gases. This ground effects vehicle is capable of moving and maneuvering heavy objects over a relatively smooth terrain such as concrete and asphalt and, also, over an unfriendly terrain such as a rough terrain like earth and terrains with a low load-carrying capability such as soft ground, a marsh, snow and relatively thin concrete.

103 Claims, 34 Drawing Figures mwwsmm 8 ms SHEET 10 I": R I I I T T A I II I I I 448 I l I I I I (km I I I I I 446 I I I I I I442 fi v I Iii Iz i\ I I 44 I 40 43 442 w m i W T2 n: I: I34 E460 la 45's 1 GROUND EFFECTS VEHICLE AND AN AIR TERMINAL This invention is also directed to an air terminal having a ground facility for servicing an airplane, for loading passengers onto and for unloading passengers off of an airplane in less time and with greater safety to both the passengers and to the airplane than previously used ground facilities. Further, cargo and baggage may be more easily and more quickly loaded onto the airplane and unloaded from the airplane.

The ground effects vehicle and the air terminal may be used alone or may be used in conjunction with each other.

An airplane landing at an air facility, not using my ground effects vehicle or my air terminal, upon leaving the runway taxies to an apron under its own power or, with its engines running. This increases the fuel consumption of the airplane so as to increase the cost and also adds pollution to the atmosphere from the products of combustion of the airplane fuel. At the air terminal the ground guidance crews direct the pilot for maneuvering the airplane. The jetways, passenger loading ramps, extend out to meet the airplane for the passengers to unload. Further, there are numerous service vehicles moving around the airplane to service this airplane. For example, there is a baggage service vehicle, a fuel truck, a water truck, a galley truck, and a toilet service vehicle. These vehicles moving around the airplane add congestion and confusion around the airplane and, unfortunately, from time to time one of the vehicles may strike or hit the airplane. Then, it is necessary to inspect the airplane to determine the extent of the damage to the airplane. If the skin of the airplane has been damaged and dented the airplane is not permitted to fly. Instead, it is necessary to move the airplane to a maintenance area where the damage to the airplane is repaired. This may delay the service of the airplane. Further, the airplane is not in use for an indefinite time period and there is money lost due to the inactivity of the airplane.

While an airplane is being loaded with passengers the fuel is piped from a fuel truck to the airplane. There is the possiblility of spillage or leakage of the fuel and therefore the possibility of a fire.

After the airplane has been loaded with passengers the jetways are retracted and by means of two trucks the airplane is backed away from and maneuvered away from the air terminal and manuevered to a taxi area.

While the airplane is still at the terminal, and before being maneuvered to the taxi area, the engines of the airplane are started. The airplane approaches the runway. In certain congested airports and under certain congested conditions it may require a wait of approximately 45 minutes before the airplane, after the engines have been started, is permitted to take off from the runway. In this 45-minute waiting period the engines are running, fuel is being consumed and the products of combustion of this fuel are released to the atmosphere so as to pollute the atmosphere.

With modern airplanes such as the large jet commercial airplanes like the airbus, the 747 and the smaller commercial jet airplanes like the 700 series, the DC-8s and the DC-9s, it is necessary to have substantial ground support area. For example, for these airplanes it is necessary to have a ground support area of approximately 18 inches of reinforced concrete. Further,

there is a tractor for moving these airplanes from the air terminal to the taxi area. With the new large airplanes such as the 747 airplane the tractor is quite large and very powerful. For example, the tractor for moving the 747 is so large and powerful that it can literally tear pieces of concrete out of the apron near the air terminal and also out of the runway. By tearing these pieces of concrete there is damage to the apron and to the taxi area.

In certain instances an airplane may crash or run off of the runway so as to still be relatively intact and yet not capable of flying or not capable of moving under its own power on its own landing gear. Sometimes, the airplane is jacked up or elevated and a dummy landing gear is placed under the airplane and the airplane is towed to better facilites. Further, at certain times the airplane is repaired at the site. Still further, a crane is brought in and the airplane, if it be a small airplane, is lifted onto a flat-bed type trailer and hauled away.

Although, not related to an air terminal or an airport, but still of a similar problem with moving heavy loads, is the problem of servicing certain units in rural and undeveloped areas. For example, missile bases in the United States, such as in North and South Dakota and Montana, are often in rural and undeveloped areas. The terrain around these missile bases may not be friendly and in order to construct the missile bases and to use the bases it is necessary to construct roads for servicing the bases. To use these roads it is necessary to have a road of a certain loadcarrying capacity. In the construction of these missile bases it is necessary to have a road capable of carrying heavy loads. Further, from experience, the use of these roads may be restricted to certain times of the year. For example, the use of these roads may be restricted to the summer, fall and winter. In the spring when the snow is melting and the ground is soft it may not be possible to use these roads for carrying exceedingly heavy loads.

Another example of the necessity of building roads to carry heavy loads is the installation, in Afganistan, of diesel-electric generating sets. For example, 1971 in Afganistan there is scheduled to be installed six dieselelectric generating sets of 2,300 kva. Each of these sets weighs approximately 300,000 pounds. In order to install these sets it will be necessary to construct special roads having the load-carrying capability.

In regard to an air terminal all services at the air terminal are brought to the airplane. There is considerable congestion around the airplane due to the service trucks and service facilities and because of the service trucks and service facilites there is a likely chance of damage to the airplane and therefore the taking of the airplane out of service.

The prior-used air terminals do not economically utilize the service area for the airplane. These terminals require double handling of baggage, cargo, and fuel. Further, the area required by the air terminal is excessively large because of the requirement for airplane maneuvering area. These result in a loss of time, a loss of manpower and more manpower is required to service the airplane and this results in an added expense. Further, the transferring of the fuel from the fuel truck to the airplane is a dangerous function and may result in a fire or an accident.

With this background, having worked as a consulting engineer and worked around airplanes and air termirials l have realized some of the problems involved and some of the limitations of the facilities for handling airplanes at air terminals and also some of the limitations of the air terminals. Accordingly, I have made the subject invention for a ground effects vehicle and also for an air terminal.

In this invention there is a ground effects vehicle which allows free movement of the airplane around the apron, the taxi area and the maintenance facility, without the use of the airplane engines. The airplane can be moved in these areas and regions on said ground effects vehicle without the airplane engine being operated. The ground effects vehicle rests on a cushion of gas. It is not necessary to operate the airplane engines and therefore there is a savings in fuel and there is less pollution of the air. Further, less area is required for maneuvering the airplane around the air terminal and there is less maintenance expense for the concrete around the air terminal, the apron and the taxi areas. The power required to move the airplane on the ground effects vehicle is very small as the ground effects vehicle is resting on a cushion of gas.

In regard to areas other than an air terminal, such as unfriendly terrain, a less expensive road construction and development is required as the load-carrying requirement of the road is relatively small due to the large surface area of the ground effects vehicle and the small unit loading on the road. Further, with this ground effects vehicle it is possible to move a load over areas of different surface characteristics such as concrete which is relatively smooth, a marsh, snow and earth. The earth may be relatively rough and undulating. For example, the earth may have a washboard appearance or may be in its natural state or in a rough graded state such as a pasture or a plowed field.

Now, in regard to the air terminal there are service facilities at each loading dock. These service facilities are in the core of the loading clock. It is not necessary to have service trucks moving around the airplane. Therefore, there is less possibility of a service truck running into the airplane and damaging the airplane so as to require taking the airplane out of service. The loading facilities may be such that the fuel may be introduced into the airplane through a pipe or flexible tube, the water may be introduced into the airplane through a pipe or flexible tube and the toilet facilities may be drained through a pipe or flexible tube. The galley may be restocked through a jetway connecting with the terminal core. Likewise, baggage may be removed from the airplane and added to the airplane by means of a jetway connecting with the central core. Further, the roof of the air terminal may be utilized for taxi service and helicopter service. There connects with the central core a plurality of loading docks. These loading clocks are of a cantilever construction so that the wings of the airplane may pass underneath the loading docks. At the air terminal the airplane is elevated off of the surrounding surface area so as to more readily unload and load passengers and also to service the airplane.

With this background of the ground effects vehicle and the air terminal an object and advantage of this invention at the air terminal is to reduce the turn-around time of the airplane so as to realize more productive use of the airplane; to lessen the possibility of damage to the airplane at the air terminal; to reduce the number of operations and the time of the operations in regard to the maintenance of the airplane at the airport; to increase the space utilization of the airport, said space utilization including both the area around the airport and the air terminal and also the vertical dimension of the air terminal; to reduce the non-revenue producing cost of the air terminal; to provide better accessibility for the passengers with respect to the airplane, both for the passengers loading onto the airplane and the passengers departing from the airplane; to provide better accommodation for the passengers at the airport with respect to reaching the airplane; to provide greater convenience for the passenger to reach the air terminal and also to depart from the air terminal; to reduce the pedestrian traffic within the air terminal; to provide the personnel at the air terminal with a means for more completely and more thoroughly accounting for the passenger loading onto the airplane and departing from the airplane; to provide at the air terminal apparatus for determining the weight and balance of the airplane while docked at the air terminal; and, to provide apparatus at the air terminal for removing ice from the airplane while simultaneously loading and unloading the passengers with respect to the airplane. With respect to the ground effects vehicle at the air terminal an object of this invention is to make it possible to increase the maneuverability of the aircraft at the air terminal; to reduce the maneuvering space for the aircraft at the air terminal; to reduce the cost of maintenance of the taxi and apron areas at the air terminal; to reduce the need of cleaning apparatus, such as snow plows, at an air terminal to keep clean the taxi and apron areas; to reduce, and/or eliminate, the requirements for flight crews around the airport to control the movement of the aircraft from the air terminal to the maintenance area; to reduce the use of the aircraft engines around the air terminals; to lessen the time of operation of the aircraft engines around the air terminals and thereby increase the useful operating time of said aircraft engines; to lessen air pollution, noise pollution and thermal pollution around the air terminals as the aircraft engines are not operating while on the taxi areas and the apron areas around the air terminal; to lessen the operating cost of the aircraft around the air terminals as the aircraft engines are not operating while the aircraft is on the taxi area or the apron area and thereby lessen the amount of fuel required; to increase the maneuverability of the aircraft around and in the maintenance area and maintenance hangar with a minimum of effort; to make possible a greater usage of the area around the air terminal; and, to assist in removing damaged aircraft from the runway area and from the apron and taxi areas around the air terminal. Another object of this invention, with the ground effects vehicle other than at the air terminal, is to allow the transportation of heavy objects and loads over terrain not capable of supporting heavy axle loads as realized with wheel-type vehicles; to reduce the cost of construction of a road bed; to lessen the flow time of construction of a road bed; to make it possible to more readily position a load on said ground effects vehicle for installation at the site of usage; to eliminate double handling of all cargo loads as the ground effects vehicle can serve, both as a lighter and a land vehicle; to be useful in salvage and rescue work in flooded areas; to handle military impedimenta over unimproved terrain; and, to move over undeveloped terrain and to carry loads over undeveloped terrain on an air cushion and which terrain may have elevation variations of approximately 24 inches.

These and other important objects and advantages of the invention will be more particularly brought forth upon reference to the accompanying drawings, the detailed description of the invention and the appended claims.

In the drawings:

FIG. 1 is a fragmentary plan view illustrating a ground effects vehicle and, in particular, an air dock comprising a plurality of primary sections and a plurality of ramp sections;

FIG. 2 is a plan view of a ramp section;

FIG. 3 is a side elevational view of said ramp section;

FIG. 4, taken on line 4-4 of FIG. 2, is an end elevational view of said ramp section; and,

FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view of said ramp section;

FIG. 6 is a plan view of a primary section, with the duct removed, and illustrates the storage area for the compressed gas reservoirs or tanks;

FIG. 7 is a side elevational view of said primary section of FIG. 6;

FIG. 8, on an enlarged scale, is a plan view, see the area defined by the ellipse of FIG. 6, of the crust area in the duct of the primary section;

FIG. 9, taken on line 99 of FIG. 8, illustrates the depressed area of the duct;

FIG. 10, illustrates the raised wheel stop and also illustrates the actuating mechanism for raising the wheel stop;

FIG. 11 is an isometric view looking at the underneath side of a primary section and illustrates a recessed area in the air-tight base and also illustrates the depending circumscribing skirt around said recessed area;

FIG. 12 is a vertical cross-sectional view of the depending skirt or apron circumscribing said air-tight base, and which skirt is extended so as to depend below said primary sections;

FIG. I3 is a cross-sectional view illustrating said apron or skirt being positioned in the recessed portion of said air-tight base and illustrates the hinged portion of said flexible apron or skirt;

FIG. 14 is a fragmentary view of the ramp section and illustrates a towing socket on said ramp section for moving said ground effects vehicle;

FIG. 15 is an end elevational view of a retractable friction drive for said ground efi'ects vehicle;

FIG. 16 is a side elevational view of said retractable friction drive for said ground effects vehicle;

FIG. I7 is an end elevational view of a cable clamp for mating with a cable for moving said ground effects vehicle;

FIG. 18 is a side elevational view of said cable clamp for mating with a cable for moving said ground effects vehicle, and also illustrates the means for joining together a primary section and a ramp section;

FIG. 19 is a plan view of a ramp section and illustrates sound attenuation means and means for allowing gas to escape from underneath the primary section and also means for reducing the dust created by the escapement of said gas from under said primary section;

FIG. 20 is a side elevational view of said ramp section and illustrates said sound attentuation means and said means for allowing gas to escape from underneath said primary section;

FIG. 21 is an end elevational view of said ramp section, on a larger scale, and illustrates said sound attenuation means, means for allowing said gas to escape from underneath said primary sections and means for reducing the dust level due to the escapement of said gas from underneath said primary section;

FIG. 22 is a fragmentary vertical cross-sectional view illustrating the quick dump release means, in an open position, under said primary section for allowing the rapid escape of compressed gas under said primary section, and also illustrates the depending flexible apron or skirt positioned under said primary section and near said recessed portion;

FIG. 23 is a fragmentary vertical cross-sectional view illustrating said quick dump release means under said primary section and in a closed position;

FIG. 24 is a schematic illustration of the apparatus for controlling the flow of compressed gas underneath the ground effects vehicle;

FIG. 25 is a schematic illustration of the leveling apparatus for controlling the level of said ground effects vehicle;

FIG. 26 is a schematic illustration of another apparatus, using a sensing finger for controlling the flow of compressed gas underneath said ground effects vehicle;

FIG. 27 is a plan view of an air dock illustrating a plurality of primary sections and a plurality of ramp sections and, by means of dotted lines in a rectangular pattern, illustrates the recessed portion in each primary section;

FIG. 28 is a plan view of a lifting means at an air terminal and, by means of phantom lines, illustrates a small ground effects vehicle being lifted on a U-shaped lifting device and, by means of broken lines, also illustrates a large ground effects vehicle being lifted by said U-shaped lifting device and also by a straight bar lifting device;

FIG. 29 is a side elevational view of the subject matter of FIG. 28 and illustrates a small ground effects vehicle being lifted by said U-shaped lifting device and also by means of broken lines illustrates a large ground effects vehicle being lifted by said U-shaped lifting device and by said straight bar;

FIG. 30 is an end elevational view showing the straight bar lifting device in an extended position;

FIG. 31 is a plan view of an air terminal and illustrates the concourse, and the cantilevered air docks, and with the airplanes positioned on the ground effects vehicle and at the air docks, and with the passenger loading and unloading ramps extending from the air docks to the airplanes;

FIG. 32 is a side elevational view illustrating said airplanes at the air terminal and with the wings of the airplane underneath said cantilevered air docks and also with the airplanes positioned on the ground effects vehicle and the ground effects vehicle being elevated by said supporting devices, and also illustrates the fact that the airplanes can be so positioned that the wings overlap but do not obstruct the positioning of the airplane with respect to the air docks for loading and unloading passengers;

FIG. 33 is a plan view illustrating the cantilevered air docks of the air terminal, the concourse of the air terminal and illustrates a large airplane such as the 747 being positioned at the air docks and with loading and unloading ramps connecting from the air docks to the airplane, and also illustrates a small airplane such as the 707 being berthed at air docks designed for a 747 and illustrates the loading and unloading ramps connecting with the smaller airplane and also illustrates a service facility, such as a fuel line, water line or sewage line, connecting from the air dock to the smaller airplane; and,

FIG. 34 is an end elevational view of FIG. 33 and illustrates the airplanes being positioned at the cantilevered air docks with the wings of the airplanes positioned underneath said cantilevered air docks and also said airplanes being positioned on ground effects vehicles and with the ground effects vehicles being elevated so that the loading and unloading ramps can connect with said airplanes, regardless of the size of the airplanes.

In FIG. 1 there is illustrated a plan view of an air dock 40. The air dock 40 comprises a plurality of primary sections 42 and ramp sections 44.

Each primary section 42 comprises an upper surface deck 46 and a relief ramp 48.

Each ramp section 44 comprises two sloping surfaces, a loading ramp 50 and a relief ramp 52. Also, each ramp section 44 comprises a zero end 54, a zero side 56, a connection end 58 and a connection side 60.

The relief ramp 48 of the primary section 42 is at the outer end of the primary section. The inner ends 62 of the primary sections are joined together. The connection sides 64 of the primary sections 42 are joined together.

More appropriate, the connection side 60 of the ramp section 44 is joined to the connection side 64 of the primary section 42. The connection end 58 of the ramp section 44 is joined to an adjoining connection end 58 of an adjacent ramp section 44.

In FIG. I it is seen that there are four ramp sections 44 and a plurality of primary sections 42 joined to make the integral air dock 40.

It is to be realized that the air dock 40 may vary in length because of the variation in the number of primary sections.

In FIGS. 2, 3, 4 and there are various views of the ramp section 44. In FIG. 2 it is seen that there are numerous lateral support members 68 and numerous longitudinal support members 78. The ramp section 44 is covered by appropriate materials such as metal like steel or aluminum. The covering for the ramp section 44 is a checker-plate covering.

In FIG. 2 it is seen that there is a guide means 72. The guide means 72 may be an illuminated guide means.

In FIG. 3 there is illustrated a side elevational view of said ramp section 44. Also, FIG. 3 illustrates the lateral support I-beams 68.

Further there is illustrated the battery storage section 74 for electric storage batteries.

In FIG. 5 there is illustrated an end elevational view, taken at the connection end 58 of the ramp section 44, and illustrates the longitudinal I-beam supports 78.

In FIG. 4, taken on line 44 of FIG. 2, there is illustrated the longitudinal l-beam support 78 and the illuminated guide means 72.

In FIGS. 6-11 there is illustrated details of construction of the primary section 42.

In FIG. 6, a plan view of the primary section, there is illustrated the lateral I-beam support members 82 and the longitudinal I-beam support members 84. Also, there is illustrated the high pressure gas storage vessels 86. The gas storage vessels 86 have pressure at approximately L500 psi. There is a main header 88 and a plurality of connection lines 90 connecting the appropriate gas storage vessels 86 with the main header 88.

In FIG. 7 it is seen that there is a lower structural member 92. The lower structural member 92 is elevated a few inches above the peripheral parts on the underneath side of the primary section 42. More particularly, look at the right part of FIG. 7 and the underneath side and it is seen that the structural member is elevated slightly above 94 on the right end and above the inner end or connection end 96 on the left. This may be referred to as a recessed area 98 in the primary section 42. Circumscribing the recessed area 98 and connecting with the structural member 92 is a depending flexible apron 100. The depending flexible apron 100 is detailed in FIGS. 12 and 13.

In FIG. 8 there is illustrated the guide means 102. The guide means 102 is flush with the upper surface deck 46 of the primary section 42. Below the illuminated guide means 102 there may be a source of illumination such as an electric light.

In FIG. 9 there is illustrated the recess 104 in the upper surface deck 46 of the primary section 42. The recess 104 is a nose wheel well for positioning the nose wheel of an airplane.

In FIG. 10 there is illustrated a hinged stop 156 in the upper surface deck 46 of the primary section 42. It is seen that the upper surface deck 46 is discontinuous at 158 and that hinged stop plate 160 fills this discontinuity. The hinged stop plate 160 is hinged at 162 to part of the deck 46.

There is a moving means 164 for raising and lowering said hinged stop plate 160. The moving means 164 comprises a cylinder 168 and a ram or plunger 170. The cylinder 168 may be a hydraulic cylinder or a pneumatic cylinder or an electric motor. The cylinder 168 has a flange 172 which connects with the structural frame of the primary section 42.

The hinged stop plate 160 corresponds to the recess 104, see FIG. 9, for stopping the movement of the airplane wheels.

There may be as many stopping means 156 as de sired. For example, for various size airplanes the position of the stopping means 156 will vary.

In FIG. 11 there is an isometric view looking at the underneath side of the primary section. There is illustrated the recessed area 98 and the circumscribing flexible apron 100. Also, in the recessed area 98 and underneath the air-tight base 106 there is a framework 108. The frame 108 comprises two spaced apart lateral members 1 l0 and a plurality of longitudinal members 112. Again, the base 106 is an air-tight base and the flexible apron 100 depends from the air-tight base or the framework for the air-tight base. The frame 108 is the support frame for a lifting device which will be described in the latter part of this specification, and which lifting device is referred to by FIGS. 28, 29 and 30.

In FIG. 11 it is seen that there is illustrated the storage tank 86 for the compressed gas, the lateral I- support beams 82, the longitudinal I-support beams 84, the relief ramp 48 and the structural members 114 for said relief ramp 48.

In FIGS. 12 and 13 there is illustrated the depending flexible apron 100. The upper end of the apron 100 is attached to an angle member on the lower part of the primary section 42. The upper part of the flexible depending apron 100 is attached to said angle member 120 by means of a bolt 122. Between the head of the bolt 122 and the flexible apron 100 is a relief washer 9 124. On the lower depending end of the flexible apron 100 is a sealing band 126.

The flexible apron 100 may be a flexible reinforced fiberglass. The sealing band 126 may be neoprene or tetrafluoropolyethylene.

In FIG. 12 it is seen that the flexible apron 100 is depending from the primary section 42. In this configuration the air pressure underneath the primary section 42 is forcing upwardly the flexible apron 100. The flexible apron 100 acts as a sealing means to try and contain the gas underneath the primary section 42. In other words, the flexible apron 100 functions as a collapsible valve when positioned between the air-tight base 106 of the primary section 42 and the surrounding surface area. To a degree, the flexible apron 100 and the sealing band 126 conform to the surface of the lower surrounding area. If the surface of the lower surrounding area be irregular the sealing band 126 and the flexible apron 100 will conform to the irregularity so as to try and contain the gas between the air-tight base 100 and the lower surrounding area.

In FIG. 13 it is seen that the flexible apron 100 and the sealing band 126, when the primary section 42 is resting on the lower surrounding area, folds up into the recessed area 98 and underneath the primary section 42. In this manner the flexible apron 100 is not damaged when the primary section 42, or the air clock 40, rests upon the lower surrounding area.

In FIG. 14 there is illustrated a fragmentary portion of the ramp section 44 and the loading ramp 50. In the loading ramp 50 there is a recess 130. In the recess 130 there is positioned a tow ring 132. The tow ring 132 connects with the ramp section 44 by suitable means such as bolts, rivets, and the like. The tow ring 132 makes it possible to tow the air dock 40, or a combination of a ramp section 44 and a primary section 42, when elevated by means of compressed gas being released underneath the air-tight base 106. Actually, with compressed gas being released underneath the air-tight base 106 there is substantially no friction between the air dock 40, or the primary section 42 and the ramp section 44, and the lower surrounding area and it is possible to tow these units with only a minimum of effort.

ln FIGS. 15 and 16 there is illustrated another means for propelling the air dock or a ramp section 44 and a primary section 42. In FIG. 16 there is illustrated the primary section 42 and a ramp section 44 connecting with the primary section 42. Also, there is illustrated the depending flexible apron 100 and the sealing band 126. It is seen that the sealing band 126 is in contact with the lower surrounding area 134. Further, it is seen that there is the air-tight base 106. The propelling or traction means is in the ramp section 44.

In the ramp section 44 there is provided a support structure 136. The support structure 136 connects with an air cylinder 138. The air cylinder 138 has a ram 140. An air motor 142 is attached to the air cylinder 138 and moves the air ram 140. On the lower end of the air ram 140 there is a housing 144. The housing 144 houses the wheels 146 and 148. There is associated with the wheel 146 a motor 150 and there is associated with the wheel 148 a motor 152. The motors 150 and 152 may be air motors or may be electric motors. By means of the motors 150 and 152 and the wheels 146 and 148 it is possible to move and to steer the air dock 40 or the combi- 10 nation of the primary section 42 and the ramp section 44.

The air motor 142 sufficiently extends the air ram so that the wheels 146 and 148 are in contact with the lower surrounding area 134.

In FIGS. 17 and 18 there is illustrated a towing mechanism for towing an air dock 40 or a combination of a primary section 42 and a ramp section 44.

In the ramp section 44 there are structural horizontal members which tie into the l-beams 78 of the ramp section. A plate 182 connects with the two structural members 180. The plate 182 positions a bracket 184 having an upper and lower bearing 186. The bearings 186 position a shaft 188. On the shaft 188 is a retainer 190. The shaft 188 is capable of moving vertically in said retainer 190.

The shaft 188 on its lower end connects with a bracket 192. The bracket 192 has a clamping device 194 which clamps onto a cable 196.

In FIGS. 17 and 18 it is seen that in the lower surrounding area, id est, the apron, there is a channel 198. The channel 198 is effectively a housing for the cable 196.

The cable 196 is connected to a winch or yarder mechanism for moving the cable and thereby moving the air dock 40.

In FIG. 18 it is seen that the primary section 42 is connected to the ramp section 44 by means of nuts and bolts 200 which connect the connection side 64 of the primary section 42 to the connection side 60 of the ramp section 44.

The nuts and bolts 200, and the passageways in the primary section 42 and the ramp section 44 serve the purpose of aligning the primary section and the ramp section and also serve the purpose of connecting together into an integral unit the primary section and the ramp section.

In FIGS. 19 and 20 there is illustrated a closure ramp 210 having a main surface deck 212 and a smaller sloping surface deck 214. At the junction of the surface decks 212 and 214 there is a ridge 216.

The closure ramp 210 comprises longitudinal structural members 218 and lateral structural members 220. The structural members are more clearly illustrated in FIG. 20.

The closure ramp 210 may be used with the primary section 42. When used with the primary section 42 it is not necessary to use a ramp section 44 as the closure ramp 210 takes the place of the ramp section 44.

In FIG. 21 there is illustrated a generic ramp section 224 having a surface deck 226 and underneath the surface decks 226 a sound attenuation means 228. On the upper and inner end of the ramp section 224 there is a structural framework 230.

Spaced inwardly and apart from the sound attenuation means 228 is a baffle 232. Depending downwardly from the baffle 232 is a dust skirt 234.

The baffle 232 and the dust skirt 234 assist in decreasing the noise and the amount of dust escaping from underneath the ramp section 224 when a primary section or an air dock is elevated off of the lower surrounding area 134 by means of compressed gas. Naturally, in the use of compressed gas to elevate a supporting structure some gas will escape. With the use of gas at approximately 20 psi the escaping gas will move small objects such as pebbles, broken glass, bits of metal and the like. Further, this escaping gas will move 1 1 dust and the like. The baffle 232 and the dust skirt 234 prevent the movement of a considerable number of small objects such as pebbles, glass and metal, and further assist in decreasing the blowing up of the dust. In effect, they provide a settling chamber or an expansion chamber in which the dust can settle.

Now, in regard to the sound attenuation means 228 the escaping gas will make a considerable noise and to lessen this noise there is provided a sound attenuation means which baffles the noise. This makes it possible for people working around the air dock to have more pleasant working conditions.

The generic ramp section 224 is used in its broadest sense as a similar structure that can be used for the ramp section 44, the relief ramp 52 or the relief ramp 54. In the ramp section 44, the relief ramp 52, the relief ramp 48, and the closure ramp 210 there may be provided a baffle such as baffle 232, a dust skirt such as dust skirt 234, and a sound attenuation means such as sound attenuation means 228.

in FIGS. 22 and 23 there is illustrated an emergency quick dump valve 240.

The emergency quick dump valve 240 is positioned in the primary section 42 and also with respect to the air-tight base 106. It is seen that there are the lateral beams 84. Also, in FIG. 22 it is seen that there is the circumscribing main l-beams 242. The l-beams 242 extend below l-beams 84.

In the air-tight base 106 there is a passageway 244. A housing 246 tits in this passageway so as to be air tight with respect to the passageway 244, as is illustrated in H65. 22 and 23. The housing 246 has a circumscribing lip 248.

The housing 246, above the air-tight base 106, has a plurality of openings 250.

There is a rod 252 which extends through an opening in the upper part of the housing 246. On the upper end of the rod 252 there is an iron core or a soft iron member 254. it is seen that the iron member 254 is partially housed in a solenoid 256.

On the lower end of the rod or shaft 252 there is a valve plate 258. The valve plate 258 mates or seats on the circumscribing lip 248.

In FIG. 23 it is seen that the valve plate 258 is faced or in contact with the circumscribing lip 248 so that the valve 240 is closed. ln other words, the compressed gas under the primary section 42 cannot escape through the valve 240. Also, in FIG. 23 the solenoid is not actuated.

Now, in FIG. 22 the solenoid 256 has been actuated so that the iron core 254 has been drawn into the solenoid and the valve plate 258 has been lowered downwardly from the valve housing 246 and the valve plate is moved away from the circumscribing lip 248. The compressed gas under the primary section 42 can escape between the valve plate 258 and the circumscribing lip 248 and out through the openings 250 in the housing 246. Pressure in the air-tight base 106 is thus released and the primary section 42 is no longer supported by the pressure in air-tight base 106.

At certain times it may be necessary to suddenly stop the air dock 40 or the primary section 42 as it is being towed or moved on the air cushion underneath the air dock or the primary section. An easy way to stop the movement of the air dock or the primary section is to let the air cushion escape so that the air dock or primary section settles onto the lower surrounding area.

This is readily accomplished by opening the valve 240 so the compressed gas can escape.

In FIG. 24 there is illustrated a pressure control system 270 comprising a source 86 of compressed gas. The compressed gas in 86 may be at a pressure of approximately l,500 psi. A line 272 connects with 86 and also connects with a manual shut-off valve 274. The manual shut-off valve by means of a line 276 connects with a first gas reducing means 278. The first gas reducing means 278 reduces the pressure of the gas from approximately 1,500 psi to a pressure in the range of about 90 to psi.

There connects with the line 276 a manual control valve 280. The valve 280 by means of a line 282 connects with a line 276. The valve 280 controls the recharging of the gas into the container 86. The valve 280 by means of a line 284 connects with the source of high pressure gas for recharging the container 86.

The first pressure reducer for the gas, 278, by means of a line 286 connects with a solenoid control valve 288.

A control valve 290 by means of a line 292 connects with a line 286. The valve 290 by means of a line 294 connects with the starting engine for the aircraft engine. The manual control valve 290 controls the flow of gas to the starting engine.

The solenoid valve 288 by means of a line 296 connects with a second pressure reducing means 298. The pressure reducing means 298 reduces the pressure from the range of approximately 90 to 100 psi to approximately 20 psi.

A line 300 connects with a line 296 and also connects with the quick connect and disconnect fittings 302.

The second pressure reducing means 298 by means of a line 304 connects with a manual control valve 306. The valve 306 is a dual control valve which controls the flow of air underneath the primary section 42 and to the recessed portion of said primary section and also controls a high pressure operating air for the system.

The line 300 by means of a line 308 connects with the dual control valve 306.

The dual control valve 306 by means of a line 310 connects with a vortex amplifier 312.

The dual control valve 306 by means of a line 314 connects with a mono-stable proportional amplifier 316.

The mono-stable proportional amplifier 316 by means of a line 318 connects with a vortex amplifier 312. Also, the mono-stable amplifier 316 by means of a line 320 connects with the vortex amplifier 312. In the line 320 there is a check valve 322. Also, between the lines 318 and 320 there is a line 324. In the line 324 there is a check valve 326.

The check valve 322 prevents the flow of gas from the vortex amplifier 312 to the mono-stable proportional amplifier 316. Further, the check valve 326 prevents the flow of gas from the line 320 to the line 318.

A line 330 connects with the line 320 and also connects with the time delay unit 332. The time delay unit 332 connects with the dual control 306 by means of a line 334.

A line 336 connects with the vortex amplifier 312 and also with the mono-stable proportional amplifier 316. A line 338 connects with the line 336 and also connects with the air-tight base 106 of the primary section 42.

In FIG. 24 it is seen, schematically illustrated, that the emergency quick dump valve 240 connects with the air-tight base 106.

Now, the solenoid control 288 electrically connects with the emergency quick dump valve 240 so that when the quick dump valve 240 opens the solenoid valve 288 closes so as to stop the waste of compressed gas in the container 86.

The mono-stable proportional amplifier 316 connects to the atmosphere by means of a line 342.

In operation the vortex amplifier 312 controls the flow of compressed gas through line 338 to the air-tight base 106 of the primary section 42. For example, if the pressure of the gas underneath the air-tight base 106 is too low then the flow of gas from the vortex amplifier 312 through the line 336 to the mono-stable proportional amplifier 316 is not sufficient to stop the flow of gas to the vortex amplifier by means of line 318. This means that there is a greater flow of compressed gas from 316 through the line 318 to the vortex amplifier 312 and through line 338 to the air-tight base 106. Now, when the pressure of the compressed gas in the air-tight base 106 reaches a sufficient pressure the flow of gas through line 336 and to the mono-stable proportional amplifier 316 is sufficiently great to cause the mono-stable proportional amplifier 316 to redirect the flow of the compressed gas from line 314 to line 320 and to the vortex amplifier 312 and thereby cut down the flow of compressed gas through the line 338 to the air-tight base 106. Then, when the pressure in the airtight base 106 falls, the mono-stable proportional amplifier 316 directs the flow of compressed gas through the line 318 to the vortex amplifier 312 and from the vortex amplifier 312 through the line 338 to the airtight base 106. This is a self-regulating type of system using the mono-stable proportional amplifier 316 and the vortex amplifier 312.

In order to not release a large quantity of compressed gas when the pressure in the air-tight base 106 rapidly falls the time-delay unit 332 delays the shifting of the dual control valve 306 so as to cause a few seconds delay in the flow of gas from the line 304 through the dual control valve 306 and to the vortex amplifier 312. This assists in conserving the amount of compressed gas and also assists in preventing a hunting action taking place by the part of the monostable proportional amplifier. 316 on the vortex amplifier 312.

In FIG. 26 there is illustrated a ground control system 350 comprising many of the components of the pressure control system 270. The same reference numerals will be used for the same components for both the pressure control system 270 and the ground system 350. In the line 304 there is a mechanically controlled valve 352. The mechanically controlled valve 352 has a sensing arm 354 which senses the position of the lower sur rounding area 134. A line 356 connects with the valve 352 and the air-tight base 106.

In FIG. 26 it is seen that the sensing arm 354 controls the state of the valve 352. Likewise, the position of the primary section 42 with respect to the lower surrounding area 134 controls the position of the sensing arm 354. When the primary section 42 is close to the lower surrounding area 134 the sensing arm 354 opens the valve 352 so that compressed gas can flow through the line 356 to the air-tight base 106. Now, when the primary section 42 is elevated away from the lower surrounding area 134 the sensing arm 354 is so positioned that the valve 352 is closed and compressed gas does not flow through the line 356 to the air-tight base 106.

In FIG. 25 there is illustrated a leveling system 370. The leveling system 370, is symbolically illustrated, and comprises a first single pole double throw mercury switch 372 and a second single pole double throw mercury switch 374.

There are illustrated four vortex amplifiers 312. It is to be understood that each of these vortex amplifiers may operate one system for compressed air leading underneath a primary section to an air-tight base 106 or may operate a multiplicity of vortex amplifiers leading to air-tight bases 106. For ease of identification the upper left vortex amplifier 312 will also be give reference numeral 376; the lower left vortex amplifier 312 will be given reference numeral 378; the lower right vortex amplifier 312 will be given reference numeral 380; and, the upper right vortex amplifier 312 will be given reference numeral 382. Another way of considering this is that these vortex amplifiers 376, 378, 380 and 382 are at approximately four corners of the air dock or at four corners of a plurality of primary sections. Another way of considering these vortex amplifiers is that vortex amplifier 376 is in the northwest part; vortex amplifier 378 is in the southwest part; vortex amplifier 380 is in the southeast part; and, vortex amplifier 382 is in the northeast part. Each vortex amplifier 312 connects with a pneumatic line 338. Similarly, there leads into each vortex amplifier 312 a pneumatic line 310, a pneumatic line 318 and a pneumatic line 320.

Between each pneumatic line 318 and 320 there is positioned a pneumatic line 386. In the pneumatic line 386 there is a solenoid control valve 388. The purpose of the line 386 is to equalize the pressure between the pneumatic lines 318 and 320. By opening the solenoid control valve 388 the pneumatic line 386 allows an equal gaseous pressure between the lines 318 and 320. Then, there is a free flow of gas through the pneumatic line 310 to the vortex amplifier 312 and from the vortex amplifier 312 through the line 338 to the air-tight or gas-tight base 106.

The control for the solenoid operated valve 388 is an electrical control station 390. The control station 390 comprises the two switches 372 and 374.

The switch 374 by means of an electrical line 392 connects with the solenoid 394 associated with the vortex amplifier 380. Also, the solenoid 394 controls the valve 388 associated with the vortex amplifier 380. The solenoid 394 by means of line 396 connects with the solenoid 398. The solenoid 398 is associated with the vortex amplifier 376. The solenoid 398 by means of the electrical line 400 connects with the switch 374. The switch 374 by means of the electrical line 402 connects with the electrical power source 420 or electrical battery 420.

The switch 372 by means of the electrical line 406 connects with the solenoid 408. The solenoid 408 controls the valve 388 associated with the vortex amplifier 378. The solenoid 408 by means of the electrical line 410 connects with the solenoid 412. The solenoid 412 controls the valve 388 associated with the vortex amplifier 382. The solenoid 412 by means of a line 414 connects with the switch 372. The switch 372 by means of the electrical line 416 connects with the electrical line 402.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3162404 *Apr 2, 1962Dec 22, 1964Superior Scaffold CoGround handling system for aircraft
US3182343 *Jun 24, 1960May 11, 1965White Metal Rolling & StampingDockboards
US3270827 *May 13, 1963Sep 6, 1966Vehicle Res CorpAmphibious automobile gem kit
US3273833 *Jan 21, 1965Sep 20, 1966Dow Chemical CoAirfoil structure
US3342279 *Jun 17, 1966Sep 19, 1967Robert DownhillControl system for surface effect machines
US3380690 *Dec 15, 1966Apr 30, 1968Dominguez Rego JoseAircraft landing system
US3419164 *Jan 12, 1966Dec 31, 1968Robert A. O'neillMethod and apparatus for handling aircraft passengers, baggage and freight
US3508838 *Sep 16, 1968Apr 28, 1970Gen ElectricSound suppression of compressors used in gas turbine engines
US3541743 *Aug 16, 1968Nov 24, 1970Kness Francis JAir terminal dock
US3589058 *Dec 18, 1969Jun 29, 1971Dev Des Aeroglisseurs Marins FToy ground effect vehicle with adjustable stabilizing weight
US3613821 *Feb 27, 1969Oct 19, 1971Nat Res DevLoad-supporting device
US3648799 *Jan 19, 1970Mar 14, 1972British Hovercraft Corp LtdFluid supported load systems
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4416346 *Dec 29, 1980Nov 22, 1983Logan Russell JExtensible steering, propulsion and skirting means for ground effect vehicles
US7406368 *Apr 29, 2005Jul 29, 2008Michael ArnouseApparatus, system and method for aircraft security and anti-hijacking intervention
US7464657Nov 20, 2006Dec 16, 2008Textron Inc.Catamaran air cushion ship with folding, retractable seals
US7654211Dec 6, 2006Feb 2, 2010Textron Inc.Marine vessel transfer system
Classifications
U.S. Classification180/117, 180/118, 180/119, 244/50, 244/114.00R, 104/23.2
International ClassificationB64F1/00, B60V3/02
Cooperative ClassificationB64F1/00, Y02T50/82, B60V3/025
European ClassificationB64F1/00, B60V3/02B