Passenger boarding bridge

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A passenger boarding bridge , also passenger bridge called ( English passenger bridge boarding , PBB, including gangway , colloquially finger or trunk ) that connects the passenger terminal building of an airport with the car doors of a parked commercial aircraft , so passengers and staff with no steps and weathering on direct and quickest route - or get off. Alternatives are transfer with an apron bus or walking to the plane.

Types of construction and use

A double boarding bridge at Seoul Incheon Airport
Several boarding bridges at Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport

In the simple case, there is only one passenger boarding bridge that docks at the front entrance of the aircraft. But there are also passenger buildings on which two passenger boarding bridges lead to the front and / or middle as well as to the rear entrance. The number of passenger boarding bridges leading to the aircraft depends on the number of seats. In order to keep downtimes as short as possible, the aircraft should be loaded and unloaded as quickly as possible. For the Airbus A380, there is already the option of docking with a third finger on the upper deck at some airports.

The bridge is operated by an airport employee, the so-called bridge driver, who docks it to the door of the aircraft with a joystick and often electronic control aid. Most bridges can be moved three-dimensionally on a rotating and height-adjustable chassis. They can therefore be adjusted in height, sideways and length to suit the various types of aircraft .

However, there are also passenger boarding bridges that are only adjustable in height and length. For each type of aircraft there is a separate marking on the apron where the nose wheel must stop. As soon as the aircraft has come to a standstill, the fixed passenger boarding bridge only needs to be brought up to the aircraft fuselage and snuggled up to the aircraft skin. With this type of passenger boarding bridges, the more expensive, three-dimensionally movable passenger boarding bridge constructions were previously saved. Passenger bridges of this type are in operation at Berlin-Tegel Airport (gate A3 to A12), Helsinki-Vantaa and Kuching , among others .

The passenger boarding bridge has a padded bead at the front bottom, with which it nestles against the aircraft skin, and a movable bellows as a roof that is closed at the top after docking and thus enables weatherproof access. Since the aircraft moves up or down during loading and unloading as the load or passengers shift their weight, passenger boarding bridges are equipped with a height sensor and automatically adjust to the changed height.

Parking positions with passenger boarding bridges are located directly at the building, so the aircraft is parked with the nose facing the building in the so-called bay ( nose-in ). It then has to be pushed back for take-off with an aircraft tug . There are also airport buildings where the planes are parallel to the terminal. The passenger boarding bridges must then be correspondingly longer. Some gates are also designed in such a way that aircraft park at an angle forward at the terminal building (English nose-in ). After entering the passenger boarding bridge, the aircraft then makes a tight forward curve in order to move away from the terminal building. This eliminates the need for an aircraft tractor and saves time. The disadvantage of these two types of parking positions is that they take up much more space. Airports that use this form of passenger boarding bridge are Paris-Charles-de-Gaulle Airport (Terminal 1) and Cologne / Bonn Airport (Terminal 1).

Additional equipment

Passenger boarding bridges are the point closest to the aircraft in the airport facilities. Therefore, they are also used to accommodate technical support systems:

  • At some airports, the aircraft cabin is air-conditioned via the passenger boarding bridge. This means that the aircraft's APU can remain inoperative while it is parked at the gate, which reduces noise and environmental pollution.
  • Air ducts are used to defrost aircraft (engines and landing gear) in winter or for air conditioning in summer.
  • Supply of the aircraft with ground power without the use of a mobile ground power unit .
  • Telephone lines were sometimes provided before the proliferation of cell phones .
  • A staircase allows the ground staff quick access to the machine, e.g. B. tanker drivers (to let pilots acknowledge the fuel they have taken over) or baggage handlers (to pick up strollers or mobile walking aids from passengers).
  • Some passenger boarding bridges have an inclined elevator that is installed parallel to the stairs, for example to move magazines from the apron to the aircraft more quickly.
  • Garbage bags are lowered via rubbish chutes and can be picked up by garbage trucks on the airfield.
  • Many airlines provide newspapers / magazines. For practical reasons (delivery together with the newspaper shops in the airport), these are usually stored in the head of the passenger boarding bridges and distributed to the passengers there.


The procedure for using passenger boarding bridges is regulated by national regulations and internationally standardized procedures. A typical process is:

  • After the marshaller has given the pilot to shut down the engines, the marshaller releases the passenger boarding bridge with a hand signal.
  • Only now can the driver leave the secured area with the passenger boarding bridge and dock.
  • By knocking on the porthole, the driver signals to the crew that the bridge is safely docked and that the door can be opened. This is to prevent people from being pushed out by passengers pushing ahead by opening the door prematurely and falling into the gap between the aircraft and the passenger boarding bridge.
  • The driver signals the security staff at the gate to open the doors for arriving passengers (in person, by telephone or via a buzzer).
  • The passenger boarding bridge is now only used to exit the aircraft.
  • After the passengers disembark, the bridge can be used in both directions (e.g. to change crew).
  • After the crew reports that they are ready for boarding , the doors at the gate are opened for departing passengers.
  • After boarding, the crew confirms that they are ready to take off.
  • The driver secures the door of the bridge (chain, door or roller shutter) and drives the passenger boarding bridge back into the secured area. The marshaller may only allow the machine to move after his / her approval.


Similar facility

Astronauts enter the spacecraft via a system similar to the passenger boarding bridge, with the entry to the spacecraft being in an enclosed space, the white room.

Web links

Commons : Passenger Boarding Bridges  - Collection of images, videos and audio files