Developing the first “Schleppmaxxe”
What was initially developed for own use has now developed into a globally operating company. Many years ago, senior executive Hanns Schickling was looking for a compact help to manoeuvre his own small aircraft out of the hangar. Thereupon he built himself a small handy tool with an electric motor which he named “SchleppMAXXE” (engl. translation: TugMAXX.
The little helper soon got a lot of attention, that not long after the first prototype was built, small series were produced The product from that time is still in our portfolio (TF1 & TF2), although with some optimizations and a different name, but the basic principle is still the same.
Hanns Schickling retired at the beginning of 2019. Since then, Axel Schickling (CEO) is supported in the management by Steffen Hake (COO) and Florian Hoffmann (CMO).
A product family is born
After the production increased steadily, the first inquiries for custom-made products came in. However, at the same time, larger capacities were requested. The result: the first “SchleppMAXXE” was not only continuously improved, but additional models were developed.
To this day, a product family has been developed from this that can transport aircraft and helicopters up to 60.000kg / 132.000lbs. Within this weight classes there are models for almost every type of aircraft. A new tug is currently under development that will be able to move aircraft up to 150.000kg / 330.000lbs, and a series of electric aircraft jacks is also about to be launched.
What started as a simple hobby has now matured into a serious and globally active company. In 2014 the first steps into the USA were made. Meanwhile we established the TowFLEXX Incorporate with its headquarters in Brookhaven, PA, from where the business in the USA is controlled.
Since then, not only the number of clients evolved (US Air Force, renowned aircraft manufacturers, well-known DAX companies, famous private owners), but also the portfolio grew. Besides the small compact tugs with which everything started, the product range of TowFLEXX now includes various models which were designed due to the increasing demand for more powerful equipment.
Now these little power packs are able to handle large business jets, fighter planes and helicopters up to 60.000kg / 132.000lbs – units with even more power are currently in development.
But who needs Aircraft Tugs?
Aircraft are not allowed to move in the hangar on their own. They are often used to move the plane to the gas station to save expensive fuel or to bring the aircraft to the final parking position In summary: actually every aircraft owner or those who handle aircraft regularly need such a device.
What differentiates TowFLEXX from others?
This is where especially the powerful units come into focus. Besides the aspect that the operator can move freely around the aircraft with the wireless remote control to have any possible danger in sight at an early stage, designer and owner Axel Schickling has come up with something very special, which is unique on the market, and what significantly increases safety:
The nose wheel of the aircraft is first positioned and fixed on a freely rotating turntable. This then lifts the aircraft and the towing operation can start. The special turntable counterbalances the movements of the tug, so that the nose wheel remains unchanged in the direction of travel, while the aircraft tractor can flexibly rotate 360° around it. This outstanding feature protects the very sensitive landing gear and is one of the main reasons why TowFLEXX has earned so much popularity from all over the world.
Apart from the central topic of ” safety”, automation and digitalisation plays a major role in this industry. Both are currently being pursued with great intensity by our engineering teams in order to make the entire user experience even more pleasant, simple and secure.
Besides the improvements of existing equipment, new towing vehicles are also in the pipeline. This includes equipment for even larger aircraft, solutions for helicopters and other innovations, which are combined under the product group “Ground Support Equipment”.
We are about to finish the new offices at TowFLEXX headquarters in Visbek, Germany.
Story to be continued…!