EFM – The aircraft towing and de-icing experts

EFM has specialized in aircraft moving (pushback and towing), de-icing and air conditioning services since 1992. As a subsidiary of Lufthansa and Flughafen München GmbH we treat quality and the satisfaction of our customers as our top priority while strictly limiting the environmental impact of our operations.

Each year, our 140 tractor drivers and de-icers move more than 200,000 aircraft and carry out up to 15,000 de-icing operations. They also have extensive experience in de-icing under extreme weather conditions. In all areas we utilize state-of-the-art vehicles, equipment and working processes and provide punctual and economically efficient aircraft handling services.

We also share our expertise with other companies: We act as consultants for airports and airlines, provide training and offer technical support.

EFM was formed 30 years ago. Since then it has become a fixed feature of operations at Munich Airport, providing reliable performance for its customers and partners at all times. In the de-icing segment we have an excellent world-wide reputation. This is reflected in the many customers and colleagues from all over the globe who visit us to learn about our unique de-icing system, the only one of its kind on this scale anywhere in the world.
Our profile is defined by our customer-oriented approach, flexibility, qualified and motivated staff, the use of new equipment and technologies to ensure economical operations and the highest safety standards, and a commitment to protect the environment. Emblematic of our approach are our quality management under ISO 9001 and our environmental management under ISO 14001.

We’re here for you. Ask for us!

Jörg Abel EFM

Jörg Abel

Managing director of EFM - Gesellschaft für Enteisen und Flugzeugschleppen am Flughafen München mbH

Towing - We move aircraft

  • Pushback
  • Repositioning
  • Maintenance Towing

In a pushback, an aircraft with crew and passengers or cargo on board is pushed out backwards from its parking position to a taxiway from which it can taxi under its own power to the runway.

In repositioning operation, an aircraft is towed from one parking position to another. This may be necessary, for instance, when the current parking position is needed by another aircraft.

A maintenance towing operation involves moving an aircraft from the handling aprons to the hangar area when it needs maintenance or repairs. Repositioning and maintenance towing are carried out without passengers and crews on board.

In pushback, we distinguish between walkout and single man pushback.

In a walkout, the tractor driver is accompanied by a walkout assistant. The walkout assistant handles communications between the tractor driver and the cockpit and is responsible for safety during pushback and engine start-up.

Single man pushback is handled by the tractor driver alone. The tractor driver is in direct contact with the cockpit and apron control, and also performs the tasks of the walkout assistant. This ensures a faster and more economical pushback.

For pushback and towing operations we utilize state-of-the-art towing tractors. Our towbar tractors are produced by Trepel, KAMAG and Schopf and our towbarless tractors are produced by Goldhofer and Kalmar.

When a towbar tractor performs pushback or towing operations, the towbars are generally provided by our customers. However, EFM has numerous towbars of its own.

A towbarless tractor raises the aircraft’s nose landing gear and positions it on the tractor’s transport platform. The landing gear is mechanically locked, securely attaching it to the tractor. Locking in the nose gear makes it possible to perform the towing operation much faster than with a towbar tractor.

In addition, towing without a towbar improves safety because there is no towbar that can fracture. Finally, towbarless tractors can be used more flexibly because there is no longer any need for the – usually incompatible – towbars for the various aircraft types.

As a result, tractor drivers do not have to go to the central towbar storage area after every pushback operation to exchange towbars. This considerably reduces vehicle running times and fuel consumption.

De-icing - We get aircraft ready for take-off

Towing and de-icing

Safety is the top priority in aviation – in summer and winter. Consequently, aircraft must be cleared of ice and snow before take-off. That’s where EFM comes in. EFM is capable of de-icing all aircraft types – from small Learjets to the enormous Airbus A380.

The aircraft de-icing system at Munich Airport is the only one of its kind in the world. What sets the Munich method apart:

Special infrastructure and procedures - At Munich Airport more than 95 percent of all aircraft are de-iced just before take-off with their engines running at special de-icing pads (the remote areas) at the heads of the runways. There are three de-icing pads for each take-off direction on the north and south runways. Each de-icing pad is provided with several de-icing vehicles.

Short de-icing times - Each aircraft is simultaneously de-iced by several de-icing vehicles. Depending on the aircraft type, two to six de-icing vehicles per aircraft are in use. This ensures a speedy de-icing operation.

Repeat de-icing is rarely required - When an aircraft is sprayed with a de-icing fluid, it is protected against the formation of new ice for a certain time period, referred to as the hold-over time. Because of the proximity of the remote areas to the runway, they have the advantage that aircraft can take off within the shortest possible time after being de-iced. This minimizes the possibility that the hold-over time for the de-icing fluid will be exceeded, which necessitates a repeat de-icing operation.

State-of-the-art technology for de-icing vehicles and pads and recycling facilities - The EFM de-icing fleet consists of state-of-the-art Vestergaard de-icing vehicles. They are all designed for one-man operations. The de-icing specialist can operate and move the entire vehicle from the de-icing cabin. The de-icing pads are provided with a recovery system for de-icing fluids. This permits the recovery and recycling of a substantially greater quantity of used materials than would be possible if aircraft were de-iced on the apron.

Reduced de-icing costs through recycling - The recycling facility for aircraft de-icing fluids at Munich Airport went into operation in 1993 and is still considered the largest facility of this kind in the world. There, used de-icing fluid is regenerated to produce fresh fluid in a very short time. EFM covers up to 70 percent of its annual requirements for Type I de-icing fluid through recycling and is able to significantly reduce de-icing costs.

Comprehensive environmental management - By recycling, the wastewater treatment plant Eitting is relieved because significantly less glycol has to be biodegraded. In addition, since the start-up of the recycling facility, more than 100,000 tonnes of CO2 have been saved from the production of new de-icing fluid. Another advantage of recycling: the waste heat from the recycling facility is used to heat the airport.

Conclusion: The Munich method ensures safe, speedy, economical and environmentally friendly aircraft deicing.

Air conditioning - We maintain pleasant temperatures

If an aircraft is on the ground for an extended period, the interior must sometimes be heated or cooled, depending on the weather. For air conditioning purposes, EFM has state-of-the-art air conditioning vehicles and heating units. This equipment feeds warm or cool air into the aircraft’s own ventilation system through a hose connected to special inlets on the aircraft.

The air conditioning vehicles can provide fast and easy air conditioning for aircraft of almost any size. The heating units can be used for heating purposes and for de-icing turbine blades and propellers.

Consulting - We share our expertise

Pushing A380 from Emirates

Other ground handling service providers, airports,airlines and manufacturers of towing and de-icing equipment can benefit from our experience. From training to consultation – we can deliver the support you need!

With our partners Munich Airport Academy and AeroTech Consulting GmbH we offer onsite training in German and English for all relevant staff categories in the form of conventional classroom training and hands-on training. In addition, we can be on hand with advice and consultation, for example through onsite studies of de-icing processes and optimization opportunities.

We guarantee quality

Customer satisfaction is our highest quality objective and is the guiding principle for all of our activities. Our quality management (QM) is a key element of our working processes – both in our operations and administration. This benefits our customers, who can rely on a consistently high standard for all of EFM's services. At the same time our QM system comprises the basis for the continual review and optimization of all processes. This enables us to respond quickly to the increasing, evolving and new demands of our customers.

EFM’s many years of experience in the towing and de-icing of aircraft is documented in many ways, including process, working and inspection guidelines as well as two operating manuals. This comprehensive QM documentation comprises the basis for the everyday activities of our employees, who undergo regular training and assessment as specified in our QM system.

Responsibility for the ongoing monitoring and improvement of our QM system rests with EFM’s quality and environmental management officer. The functionality and application of our QM system are also subject to regular internal auditing. At least once a year our management team evaluates the QM system. This includes assessing whether the specified quality and environmental targets are met.

We impose stringent demands not only on ourselves, but also on our suppliers. Consequently, EFM regularly assesses its suppliers in external audits. The vehicles, equipment and other materials that we use also undergo regularl technical inspections and maintenance, primarily through external service providers.

We care about the environment

Environmental responsibility is a defining aspect of our commitment to quality. We have integrated environmental protection into our quality management system. This means taking full account of environmental concerns in our day-to-day activities and when planning new projects.

Under our environmental management concept we have set several targets. In general, supplies and materials in all areas must be used sparingly to protect the environment.

We have already succeeded in reducing the running times of our towing tractors by instructing drivers to shut off the motor during lengthy waiting periods before pushback or towing operations. The reduced running times have reduced wear and tear, maintenance costs and above all the diesel fuel consumption of the vehicles. This means fewer harmful emissions for the environment.

When de-icing aircraft, we make efforts to be sparing in our use of glycol-based de-icing fluids. We repeatedly optimize our de-icing procedures through the use of new technologies and processes to enable us to use de-icing fluids more sparingly and effectively than before. Our goal is to continue reducing our average consumption of de-icing fluid per de-icing procedure.

However, the prime consideration is the safety of the de-iced aircraft. In practice this means: as little de-icing fluid as possible, but as much as is needed for flight safety. We also strive to recover the greatest possible percentage of sprayed de-icing fluid to generate fresh de-icing fluid in our recycling facility.

Recycling - turning the old into new

Environmental protection is a top priority for EFM. Consequently, at Munich Airport we recover de-icing fluid and regenerate it in our recycling facility to produce fresh fluid.

When it went into operation in 1993, the recycling facility for aircraft de-icing fluids at Munich Airport was the first such facility in the world on a comparable scale. EFM covers up to 70 percent of its annual requirements for Type I de-icing fluid through recycling.

At Munich Airport, most aircraft are de-iced on special de-icing pads at the runway heads. These remote areas are provided with a recovery system for de-icing fluids. This permits the recovery of a substantially greater quantity – up to 60 percent – of used materials than would be possible if aircraft were de-iced on the apron.

The sprayed de-icing fluid that falls onto the de-icing pads during aircraft de-icing operations is channeled – along with melted ice and snow – into large subterranean tanks. This mixture is then trucked to the recycling facility where it is cleaned in a series of mechanical and chemical refinement operations and then distilled to recover the basic glycol-based de-icing agent.

Additives are then introduced to produce Type I de-icing fluid. After laboratory analysis and clearance by the manufacturer, the de-icing fluid can be used again.

Apart from producing new de-icing fluid, recycling has a practical side effect: The recycling process generates heat as a byproduct. This “waste heat” is used to keep Munich Airport warm.



EFM – Gesellschaft für Enteisen und Flugzeugschleppen am Flughafen München mbH