Alpha Airport Services has continued its acquisition of Volvo FL 18-tonne aircraft high-loaders with a further six vehicles, bringing the total to 27. Based at airports around the UK and supplied by the Avonmouth depot of Volvo Truck & Bus (South), the highly-modified FL 180 18-tonners are used to load and unload in-flight catering and duty-free materials from passenger aircraft.
According to Alpha’s transport manager, Barrie Leigh, Volvo was the only manufacturer willing and able to accommodate such a heavily modified configuration within its warranty, to work with the bodybuilders on development, and offer a sufficiently low engine height to make the conversion possible.
The conversions, carried out by Saxon Norquip and French airport equipment specialist TLD, are based on an FL 180 18 tonne, 4×2 rigid with crew-cab. All are left-hand drive: the right-hand side of the cab is completely cut away to make space for a walkway which extends from the GRP box bodywork.
In order to lower the walkway sufficiently to reach the doors of smaller aircraft, extensive modifications have been made in the engine bay, including lowering the radiator and intercooler and re-routeing the engine management system wiring harness under the radiator, away from its normal position on the rocker cover.