You may be worried about the environmental ramifications of these massive towing jobs -- after all, if towing a trailer sinks your fuel efficiency to the floor, these projects must be the pinnacle of gas guzzling. But, take heart: Many of these towing jobs are meant to conserve energy. A plane, for instance, wastes a lot of gas when taxiing on the ground. Towing it with the proper vehicle, however, saves gas.
Planes, understandably, are primarily built for use in the air -- the ground is not their forte. It turns out that on the ground, it's often more economical to have a towing vehicle pull them. The development of heavier planes like the Airbus A380 -- the world's largest passenger aircraft -- requires more powerful towing capacity as well.
When looking at a Aircraft Tow Tractor vehicle, however, you may never guess it could pull the likes of the Airbus A380, which can weigh about 600 tons (544 metric tons) at takeoff [source: Airbus.com]. Although they're small, these tractors pack a punch. Like watching an ant carry 10 times its body weight, watching a small towing vehicle pull such a massive airplane is a fascinating sight.
Conventional tractors can pull planes by connecting a tow bar to the nose gear of the plane. Another method uses the aptly named towbarless tractor which, rather than using a tow bar, cradles and carries the front wheel of the plane. Because a TLT can actually lift the nose wheel of the plane, it causes less wear on the aircraft.