Airport Logistics

Application Spotlight: JBT AeroTech Jetway Systems

Rintaro Takasu, Application Engineer

Every year, millions of commercial airline passengers worldwide utilize a passenger boarding bridge (PBB) when traveling between the airport terminal gate and the aircraft.  Most major and many regional airports have PBBs to make the process of boarding passengers onto aircraft safe and convenient.   A PBB connects the airport terminal’s gate to the aircraft via a corridor, which allows the passenger to board the aircraft without having to step foot on the tarmac. By having a direct passage onto the aircraft, passengers are kept at a safe distance from prohibited areas of the airport, making it easier to maintain airport security.  Passenger safety is also increased because passengers do not need to come within close proximity of airport ground support equipment, such as baggage trucks and other vehicles that could potentially cause an accident.  Other benefits of utilizing PBBs include sheltering the passenger from weather elements and allowing for easy boarding and disembarking of passengers that require mobility assistance.  In order to achieve these objectives, the PBB incorporates multiple mechanical and electrical systems that work with each other to comprise a safe, reliable, and durable moving structure.

The major leader in the PBB industry today is JBT AeroTech Jetway® Systems, which has supplied Jetway PBBs to airports worldwide since 1959.  Many refer to PBBs synonymously as Jetways, but the term Jetway is actually a registered trademark of JBT AeroTech.2   The original Jetway was manufactured by Pacific Iron and Steel, Co. Ltd. led by Carl Lodjic.  According to Lodjic’s memoir, the Jetway PBB resulted from a joint project by United Airlines and American Airlines to create a method by which the increasingly popular jet engine airplanes could be boarded without changing levels between the terminal and the aircraft.  The first twelve Jetway PBBs were installed in 1959 for United Airlines at John F. Kennedy International Airport in the New York metropolitan area (known at the time as New York International Airport, Anderson Field or more commonly as Idlewild Airport).

An early version of the Jetway PBB was a nose-loading type, which consisted of a suspended corridor that was attached to the side of the terminal building, and would telescope outward towards the aircraft door via a gantry design.4, 5

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