The mobile lounge or Passenger Transfer Vehicle (PTV) is a system for boarding and disembarkation from aircraft that used to be very prominent at Washington Dulles International Airport, Montreal Mirabel International Airport, and Paris, Roissy Airport before the 1990s. It is still in use in Montreal Dorval Airport and some inter-terminal transit at Washington Dulles. The system was part of the Washington Dulles terminal design by Eero Saarinen.
The lounge is a 54-by-16-foot carriage mounted on a scissor truck, capable of carrying 102 passengers. These vehicles were designed by the Chrysler Corporation in association with the Budd Company, and are sometimes nicknamed "moon buggies" due to their otherworldly appearance. When mobile lounges were first introduced, they had ramps at one end that could be raised or lowered to the floor height of an aircraft. However, when they were retrofitted to be used only for inter-terminal passenger transport, the ramps were removed and doors that could interlock with a terminal building were fitted to either end. Mobile lounges have a driver's cab at each end. The wheels at either end of the lounge can be steered, but the wheels at the end opposite the driver lock into a straight-ahead configuration so that the lounge is steered only by the wheels at the leading end of the lounge.
The plane mate is an evolutionary variation on the concept. They are similar in appearance to mobile lounges, but can raise themselves on screws (parts of which are contained in a pair of fin-like towers above the vehicles) to "mate" directly with an aircraft. This allows passengers to deplane directly aboard and be carried to the main terminal. They are easily identified by the different window configuration and two short columns on the roof with red beacons mounted on the top. Plane mates have an accordion-like canopy at one end (similar to the canopy seen at the end of a jet bridge) and have only one driver's cab and one set of steering wheels at the canopy end.
When built, Dulles's designers thought that by shuttling from the main terminal directly to a midfield jet ramp, they could save passengers from long walking distances amidst weather, noise, and fumes on the ramp. The advent of the jet bridge and construction of the midfield concourses diluted the system's advantages.
Dulles is one of the few remaining airports to use the mobile lounge/plane mate system. On January 26, 2010, the MWAA replaced the mobile lounge system for passenger movements between the Main Terminal and the A, B, and C-Gates with the AeroTrain. However, some mobile lounges/plane mates remain in use for passenger movements to and from Concourse D, to disembark international passengers from all arriving international aircraft (minus United flights landing at Concourse C and flights from countries with border preclearance) and carry them to the International Arrivals Building, and to convey passengers to and from aircraft on hard standing (i.e., those parked remotely on the tarmac without access to jet bridges).
Crew Transport Vehicle (NASA)
Early in the space shuttle program, NASA used a plane mate system to move astronauts directly from the orbiter to crew facilities. A modified vehicle obtained from the Baltimore airport was used for shuttle landings at Edwards Air Force Base. A similar vehicle was used at the Kennedy Space Center to take astronauts directly from the orbiter to the Operations and Checkout building where the vehicle was again lifted up for the astronauts to exit directly onto the 2nd floor of the facility.
- Saarinen, Eero; Pelkonen, Eeva-Liisa; Albrecht,Donald (2006). Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future. Yale University Press. ISBN 097248812X.
- Eames, Charles; Eames, Ray (1958). "The Expanding Airport". The Office of Charles and Ray Eames.
- Rein, Lisa (26 January 2010). "Passenger train goes into operation Tuesday at Dulles airport". The Washington Post. Retrieved 6 February 2010.
- JSC Digital Image Collection
- Hardware Information at NASA