Almost every time you get on a plane, unless you fly private jets or puddle jumpers, you board the plane on a loading bridge. I imagine very few people think about the walkway and machinery that offers them such convenience.
We think about it a lot, that is from a design and loading standpoint. We help a manufacturer of these monster machines with their design challenges.
These mobile “hallways” are attached to a rotating pedestal and have wheels that can locate the entry cab to many different aircraft. Think of the challenges of getting that floor level with the plane’s floor while extending over 100 feet and being positioned off center!
The bridges also transfer power, air conditioning, communications, and other services to an airplane while it is waiting to load and unload passengers. The bridges have to withstand the loads of wind, rain, snow, walking passengers with heavy luggage, and even blast from passing planes.
A lot of the engineering and integration is like most great design. It is invisible to users but highly convenient and pleasurable.
We have to engage in this kind of forethought and care. Working between the numerical analysis world on our powerful computers and then getting out to the field to experience the reality of how heavy machinery works and performs is such a fun part of our work.
How complex are the systems you are working on in comparison?