Thursday, September 12, 2013

Bicycles In The Airline Industry.

A basic airline working bike.  Basket is rated to 50-pounds. 

Bicycles, thankfully, come in many different forms with many different purposes.  There are bikes for racing, recreation, exercise, and they can even take people to work.  There is, however, a very special class of bicycles, with a purpose many people are not even aware of: The bikes that work for a living.

These "Working" bikes have been used in some pretty creative capacities, including pedal-cabs, bulk-haulers, parcel delivery, various vendors (my favorite is the rolling Espresso machine), messengers, mail, and in law enforcement.  There, however, is one, little known, niche that working bikes also fill, and that is in the capacity of  Physical Plant support.  

Many of these types of facilities are so large that walking does not make sense, and powered carts are not always practical.  Enter the working bicycle.  One example is the bike in the above photo, sent to me by a friend of mine who is a supervisor at United Airlines (formerly Continental Airlines) Houston, Texas maintenance base.  The base is large and intricate enough to make a bicycle a very useful tool. 

24-Hours a day, 7-Days a week, the maintenance base never sleeps.

While bicycles are not usually seen at airports, the sheer size of many airline maintenance facilities makes them an asset.  Not only are they used to transport personnel, they also make excellent parts fetchers, as well.  While three-wheel bikes are also used, the majority are the ever-popular two-wheeler, with a front basket.  And, they are not just any baskets, either, as many are rated for up to 50-pounds of capacity (having worked in aircraft maintenance myself, trust me, they need it).  The bikes are almost exclusively of the single-speed, hub-braked, steel framed variety for honest simplicity, and low maintenance, as the aircraft are complicated enough on their own to maintain.

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