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IGHC 2013 Conference Blog

Having GSPs pay for consequential damage will drive improved safety behavior and reduce fatalities and damage

Wednesday, May 08, 2013 1:30PM (PST)

At the start of the session, this question was posed and the delegates were asked to respond electronically, with the final result being 40% yes and 60% no.

Marsha led a discussion on this perennial question with a panel composed of a mix of people from various points of view within the ground handling industry.  Setting the basic tenants of the discussion, it was made clear that the discussion isn’t about right versus wrong, but about economics – essentially about providing the best service at the best price and getting the tickets sold at the cheapest price.  This would include preventing duplicate insurance with its attendant costs.

We are talking about everyone involved under the wing here – not just the GSPs, but also the caterers, fuellers and anyone else on the ramp.  Part of solving the problem would be adopting a “prevention is better than cure” attitude and specifying the equipment with all the safety options, but as pointed out by the manufacturers, this is a difficult sell as few users want to pay for these options due to the expense involved.  Manufacturers are fully involved in dealing with new and existing equipment – working with airframers to address concerns around composite aircraft and deal with incompatibilities.  There is still a lot of 30 year old equipment out there, but it is possible to retrofit this with the latest safety equipment.  An instance was mentioned where, after a number of successive aircraft strikes, a GSP has retrofitted their fleet at one airport and is monitoring the results with the aim of possibly doing the same to their entire fleet.  What would be appreciated is if the insurance companies would provide reductions in premiums if equipment is upgraded or new advanced equipment is brought in to replace old equipment.

It was debated whether just paying for damage actually fixes the problem.  Moving forward, the key is to start with the easy fixes, targeting the regular failures.  Addressing the problems with the rear cargo door of the A319 for example, by taking everyone airside to look at the problem was a positive experience and proved really effective.

Human factors is mentioned by some as being the fundamental cause of at least 80% of the airside accidents and incidents.  The panel debated the relative merits of minimum wage versus better paid staff.  It was pointed out that there are numerous instances where more highly paid workers do not necessarily produce a better service, so this would point to differences in oversight having an effect too.  From this point of view, it might prove beneficial to pay supervisory staff more and in this way improve the focus on management and have them manage the worker staff turnover, rather than just increasing wages of the more lowly paid staff.  Of course, initiatives to reduce reportable injuries such as incentives and target achievement appreciation events such as a BBQ aid retention and do have an effect.

Again it gets back to assessing the risk and assessing the available mitigation strategies and making a decision that best suits the company and specific situation. This again gets back to the necessity of compiling a risk matrix.


Green revolution in taxiing

Wednesday, May 08, 2013 11:45AM (PST)

Introducing Taxibot as a viable alternative to taxiing under main engine power, Guy Defresne outlined the significant cost and emissions savings that are to be realized by using this system. Also driving the interest in this system are the ETS, and ever more noise restricted airports.  Since the main engines do not run while taxiing, only the APU is used to power the aircraft.  This also reduces brake wear, reduces local emissions and eliminates the problem of FOD ingestion and surface blowing while enhancing ground staff health and safety.

Using taxibot, means that pushback is conventional, while taxi out and remote taxi in differs in that the taxibot is under the control of the pilot.  Taxibot is developed for both narrow body and wide body aircraft and is designed to eliminate the transfer of all kinetic energy to the NLG which is what forbids dispatch towing.

The objective with taxibot is to provide the savings and advantages associated with the need to only start main engines at the end of the taxi operation while making no impact on the current taxiing traffic.
50 of the biggest airports have been targeted for introduction of Taxibot.  Fuel savings during taxiing are between 81% and 84%, LEOS expect a saving of 4 minutes in turnaround of Narrow body and 6 minutes for wide body which means that ROI could be expected within 1 to 2 years.

The narrow body version is due to be certified by end 2013 while the wide body version is slated for 2014, while pilots form several different airlines have declared the system is ready.

Amongst some questions from the floor the issue of tying expensive equipment and staff up for a 45 minute taxi instead of for a 10 to 15 minute pushback was raised.  From the response it should be clear that with this concept it is not the intention to use Taxibot for each and every aircraft that taxies. 

The e-taxi proposition was also raised and the reply was that this is presently only intended for narrow body aircraft with a high frequency of taxi operations.  Long-haul flights where the several 100 kg of extra weight involved outweigh the amount of time spent taxiing would move as they do currently under their own power.

ULD Regulatory requirements

Wednesday, May 08, 2013 10:20AM (PST)

In the absence of the FAA representative, Urs Wiesendanger and Andy Davies of the ULD CARE group presented the FAA’s session.  They detailed some of the current FAA documentation that regulates (e.g. Part 121) and guides (e.g. AC 120-85) ULDs within the US.  

They also explained that ULDs are considered as part of the aircraft structure and as such are certified and the subject of stringent regulation in the same way as any aircraft.  Also pointed out was that ULDs have developed over the years, from being purely structural to adding enhanced functionality such as fire protection and hazmat containment.

Also pointed out was that there are significant revisions to some of the documentation related to ULDs which directly affects the ULD operations.  The FAA through its academy offers training courses designed to assist with charting your course through the regulatory framework.

Practical experience on Lithium batteries

Wednesday, May 08, 2013 10:00AM (PST)

Trevor Howard indicated the 2 categories of Li batteries, namely Li – metal (use once and dispose) versus Li – ion (rechargeable).  There has been a huge increase in the number of Li batteries in use in recent years in line with the increased variety of electrically powered equipment.  This has resulted in a sharp increase in the number of incidents and accidents attributable to Li batteries.

The challenges are the quantities of counterfeit batteries with dangerous internal design as well as lower quality batteries designed with cheapest product in mind.  Risky shipping and packaging practices coupled with lack of oversight and limited enforcement add to the risk.

To reduce the risk requires international harmonization, awareness, and new fire suppression systems amongst others.  Already, DG training is scheduled to become mandatory for flight dispatchers, and the 3rd Li battery seminar is scheduled to take place in Ireland in November.

A Fueller’s perspective of managing the risk near aircraft

Wednesday, May 08, 2013 09:45AM (PST)

Fuelling demands a comprehensive design of risk management systems and John Stumpf feels that the model used by BP Air could help because there seems to be a lot of commonality.  When BP Air looked at risk they looked at it from the point of where do the risks in the operation affect the company, and differentiated between Industry risks and Company risks.  In dealing with the fueling operations they looked at the generic risks, the aircraft specific risks and the gate specific risks and drew up an 8 x 8 matrix which is used to prioritize for reduction.  In assessing this, the question is asked, why we are doing this and then whether or not we should continue doing it.  If the decision is made to continue, then the necessary resources are applied to reduce the risk and draw up barrier action plans.  These are fine-tuned locally – even on a gate by gate assessment if necessary.

This system brought order and focus where previously there had been big differences in opinions on what the top priorities should be.



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