Behind the scenes at JFK: Super tugs in action

ByJosh Einiger and Todd Pierce WABC logo
Friday, December 22, 2017
Keep NYC moving
Josh Einiger takes you behind the scenes at JFK airport.

JAMAICA, Queens (WABC) -- It's ungainly, unwieldy, anything but aerodynamic, but it's integral in getting jetliners in the air. The Douglas "super tug" is capable of towing 750,000 pounds. That's 237 yellow cabs, or one fully loaded Boeing 777.

Delta invited us in for an exclusive behind the scenes look as workers shuttled giant jets across the tarmac. It's a view few passengers ever get to see.

At JFK, Delta has a fleet of six super tugs, worth as much as $1 million a piece. They move 60-70 planes per day. Because the airline's hub at Terminal 4 has fewer gates than flights per day, workers from the "Move Team" hook up super tugs to an airliner as soon as passengers disembark, and then tow it to a remote location for servicing and maintenance, freeing up the gate for the next arrival. Eventually, when the plane's been cleaned, catered and prepped for its next flight, a super tug will return it to the gate, so passengers can board.