Summer 2023

Still going strong

The Cotswold Airport B747 party plane

This March, Mike Cardy, owner and managing director of Airside Airport Equipment, turned 75. He might be one of the more mature experts in GSE, but he is still going strong

Cardy established the previous incarnation of Airside Airport Equipment, Airside GSE, back in 2003, and his experience in the field of GSE pre-dates that by decades – indeed, Cardy has been involved in ground support equipment in one way or another for some 55 years.

His training and background is in engineering, and he has worked in designing and building GSE both for himself and for other well-known suppliers over a long and busy career.

Today, Airside Airport Equipment supplies a huge range of new and refurbished GSE, including water and toilet service units, towbars and passenger stairs to name a few, for sale or rental.

It also offers new airside ramp equipment such as shear and bypass pins, wheel chocks, marshalling wands, cones, passenger inward guidance systems (PIGS) and runway barriers that can be modified to meet customer requirements – including having the name of a customer branded on the equipment. All these items are of high-specification British manufacturing standard, Cardy notes, and orders can be for hundreds at a time.

Plus, Airside Airport Equipment acts as the UK sales representative for JMS, doing a lot of business for the German GSE provider, and also markets and offers refurbished bigger lines of GSE such as de-icers, buses and tractors on behalf of a UK-based partner.

Cardy and his team even supplied equipment such as a combined air-conditioning/heating unit and two sets of passenger stairs for the decommissioned B747 based at the UK’s Cotswold Airport that is hired out for private events. They have also been involved with providing retro-design stairs for the VC10 aircraft at Brooklands in Surrey, in the UK; an electro-hydraulic belt loader for the new Global 7500 executive jet owned by JCB; a range of runway barriers for airports; bespoke passenger stairs destined for the Falklands; electric self-propelled water and toilet units for executive aircraft; an electro-hydraulic towable ambulift destined for Sharjah; and equipment for various film shoots.

Plus, Airside Airport Equipment designed a towbar for a Sunseeker boatyard to move 50-ton luxury yachts.

Business for the Farnborough Airport, Hampshire, UK-based Airside Airport Equipment was hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, but demand has picked up since the worst of the crisis. Orders for towable water and toilet service units from customers including BAE Systems and even as far afield as Africa have kept the company busy, Cardy informs. Now, “It’s always busy,” he says, and indeed such has been the upturn in demand that he is currently looking for new staff, notably an experienced fitter/engineer for his workshop in Farnborough.

The factory is located close to the company’s office at Farnborough Airport. There is plenty of development under way at the busy business/executive aviation airport (most famous for the hectic biennial Farnborough International Airshow), including the building of a large new hangar and new aircraft parking area. It’s a nice place to work, and a great place to meet people in the aviation business, Cardy says.