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Aircraft Trashed by Ground Handlers (again)

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Aircraft Trashed by Ground Handlers (again)

Old 3rd Dec 2001, 21:16
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The ground handlers are coming in for a lot of stick here but it is not always there fault and some do take a pride in what they do and in the past have reported to me things that could have been a flight saftey hazard.

The general level of dis-respect for them in the industry is high and is reflected on this forum ,i once saw a handler drive a belt loader up to an aircraft cargo door stop apply the hand brake dis-engage the road wheel drive and select the belt and then get off the driving seat and move to away to start loading the baggage , the belt loader then jumped forward and struck the aircraft.

The incident was attended by the police ,airport duty manager and the company duty manager all had one aim and that was to nail some one for the damage ,the easy target was the driver of the belt loader and all of the above engaged in an agressive questioning of the man to a point at which he would have probably admitted to the great train robbery it was to the authoritys utter dismay when i pointed out that i had witnessed the incident and that he had carried out his dutys properly.

In the following weeks i had three further visits from the authoritys to check if i had got may statment "correct".

With the "letts nail some poor sod " attitude of the airport and company management along with the aggressive police attitude it is a wonder and to the great credit of the ground handlers that damage gets reported.

Ramp damage is a great problem to the industry and to a great extent lack of training is at the root of most of the damage ,training is of course a management responsability.......I wonder if this and the agressive management attitude are conected ?

[ 03 December 2001: Message edited by: A and C ]edited for spelling

[ 03 December 2001: Message edited by: A and C ]
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Old 4th Dec 2001, 00:44
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Ground handling companies are recruiting the wrong type of workforce. Sounds harsh but true. The job does require a tremendous amount of responsibility but the bottom line is that salaries being offered usually only attract the average man/woman who is on the dole and struggling to keep his/her family.

Where I work, accident levels are fairly low when compared to other UK airports but unfortunately still happen. Is this down to training? Possibly yes. But it is also down to how the companies are being run from the top level, and this is where the problem lies. A happy workforce often represents a safe workforce and unfortunately the guys in this "profession" aren't always too happy.

Also, ramp staff aren't always to blame. How about pilot taxiing 50 yards with towbar and by-pass pin still in place! Or pilot who gives "brakes off" signal for push-back but doesn't actually release the brakes!

Accidents will always happen unfortunately. Hopefully over time, CAA regulations may come into higher effect in relation to ground handling and silly mistakes by all parties involved can be reduced so all will benefit financially!

PS. Willing to help with any ground handling queries.
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Old 4th Dec 2001, 05:18
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Tug4isfastest - I have to agree with you that recruitment selection may be a problem. The other weekend I watched two bored ?? ramp agents bouncing their vans up and down against the hand breaks next to our aircraft at Stansted. Just simply unbelievable that these two indivuals are employed and trusted with the resposibility in assisting the operation of commercial aircraft.


On the other hand though, a few years back, during a baggage handlers strike, the ground crew in the process of pushing our aircraft from its stand were assaulted and the keys stolen from the tug by angry baggage handlers. Kudos to the ground staff - they dusted themselves off, fetched the spare keys for the tug and got us off the gate. Shame more like them don't work at Stansted.
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Old 4th Dec 2001, 06:58
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Wink

I was unfortunate enough to fall for this one, Back ten years ago I was ground ops for a small Biz Jet operator. The boss of which pulled the GPU away from HIS Lear 35 with it still attached, ripping the skin.
After a few weeks up at NEA in MAN, it returned only for me to do exactly the same only days later !!!, The Boss could not really say much in the circumstances, I think the shock was so overwhelming. I even kept my job.
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Old 4th Dec 2001, 07:17
  #25 (permalink)  

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It works the other way as well. This happened many years ago. I was giving ground taxi signals to the pilot of an Air Force B-25. The pilot refused to recognize my signals and motioned me to move out of the way. I kept providing the signals because the pilot was now taxiing past a blind corner formed by our hangar. He gunned the engines and I was obliged to get the hell out of the way. Just as he cleared the blind corner one of our fire trucks took several feet off of his right wing tip. Our engineering officer soundly chewed him out and another plane had to come from his home base and pick up him and his crew. I have no idea what happened when he got back to his base.
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Old 4th Dec 2001, 07:59
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Red face

At the small northern outfit I was working for we had the same problem a few times. One guy pretty much ripped nosewheel door apart on a 748 by jumping on and driving away in the wrong direction.
As for the ground staff, the recruitment of good people was doubly hard since the pay sucked, the hours were long, and the location VERY remote. Pretty hard to find somebody dumb enough to work 12hr days six days a week for $9 an hour in -40C weather. The only viable solution was to hire pilot "wannabes" to do the work with the promise of a nice shiny turboprop in a year or so if they behave. I did it myself, and found it to be a real learning experience and an excellent way to learn the reality of heavy hauling in the bush. Seldom saw a plane get bent by a pilot, but there were lots of dings, etc. from those that weren't. It became really clear that just how valuable a trained and conscientious ground staffer can be as opposed to one who got fired at the local gas station. The unfortunate thing was that nobody higher up seemed to catch on that the incentive has to be there for somebody to perform well in what might be considered a "menial" job. If they had just paid a bit more, and made life a little more attractive they would never have had to keep the losers around. They could have better insisted on quality from all the staff like they could from those with the incentive (i.e. the wannabe's).
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Old 4th Dec 2001, 14:21
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Had a drain mast knocked off by a baggage belt at ZTH Greece. No one would own up to it. Lack of a blame free safety culture. Own up and get sacked. More safety awareness and training along with a no blame safety culture would not go amiss.
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Old 4th Dec 2001, 17:42
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I have seen the results of several ground handling accidents/incidents resulting in aircraft damage, most could have been avoided by improved awareness and training. The majority of handling staff I have encountered are hard working and helpful but as always there is a minority who treat the ramp as a race track/skid pan and who have no conception whatsoever of the potentially serious consequences of causing even (perceived) minor damage.
Ramp safety and awareness is pretty much taken for granted in some circles and in the current economic climate an insurance claim may be acceptable to the beancounters when compared to the blanket training/paying of handling staff to a higher level. So as long as ground equipment and vehicles need to be operated around aircraft on the ramp, these accidents will continue to happen.
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Old 5th Dec 2001, 02:59
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Another note on ground handling operations.

It is a very profitable business when run properly, however, the hard workers see no rewards. I've seen sizeable amounts of cash being handed directly to managers from airline representatives, and then not seen much of it after that!

Also, ground crew place a fair amount of trust on flight crew during a/c pushback just as pilots place trust on ground crews.
With respect to the amount of training given, it isn't hard to say who you would trust the most!

More selective recruiting required, but will never happen. More usually a serious lack of applicants for the summer season means ground handling companies can't afford to be fussy. They just require the manpower in any form!
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Old 5th Dec 2001, 05:09
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This does happen from time to time, however could be caused by overwork. As comapines seek to increase productivity and reduce costs, the strain has to be taken somewhere.
As for moving the aircraft off a stand, this almost certainly would have come from Airfield Operations.
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Old 5th Dec 2001, 13:01
  #31 (permalink)  

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Tug4isfastest, which handling company have you worked for that makes so much money? The one I worked for (Europes largest at the time), didn't make that much money. Contribution margins were about 2-4% PBIT. Thats not a lot of money, and the airlines are always trying to lower the rates, and can usually do so because there is always another handling agent prepared to buy the market share. Hence the need for agents to employ people on short term / part time contracts, which can have an influence on ramp safety. With regard to cash being given to managers, are you referring to cash hanling fees? Do you really expect the managers to turn round and give it to the staff? The biggest things to do with ramp safety are sufficient training, which most handling agents do provide, and a fair system for evaluating the cause and guilty party if there is one. Too many times have we seen potentially disastrous incidents go unreported due to the employee not wanting to be blamed unfairly. If an accident is truly an accident then the employee should not necessarily be punished. Although saying that, a few years ago, I had a ramp agent who had had three airframe contacts in one season, so he had to be suspended from ramp duty and put in the baggage hall, as he was obviously too unlucky.
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Old 6th Dec 2001, 06:21
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Mishandled- The organisation I work for is a profitable part of a larger well known company. Albeit more so in recent years than this one.

The money I was talking about was "backhanders" outwith the handling fees paid directly to the company.

I also totally agree that part time/temporary staff are required to raise manning levels whilst keeping wages lower, but it would be better if it was done more selectively. Unfortunately it is very difficult to attract people to the job other than the ones who really do just need a JOB.
It isn't a career as such although I do believe that if run properly, it could be.
Training is perfectly adequate but not thorough. Very lapse in some areas of importance ie. being "signed off" to operate a hi-loader without actually putting it onto an a/c or anything resembling one! We all know what one of these babies can do to the side of an aeroplane!
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Old 6th Dec 2001, 13:32
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I used to be an Ops manager at a UK airport when much of the ground handling was done "in-house". We were not competing on price, but it has to be said, we had a monopoly.
Now everyone of the handling agents is competing for the work and don't the airlines know it. The handling agents cannot afford to pay the kind of wage / salary that will attract anyone slightly interested in "Ramp Safety" - if they did, they would not get the airline's signature on the contract.
The situation gets exacerbated due to the seasonal nature of the industry. Who is going to apply for a poorly paid job with prospects of redundancy every October when the summer traffic vanishes.
Herein lies the next problem and one that was very evident once The E.C. ruling came into effect: you rarely see any old faces on the ramp - that old seasoned and experienced baggage handler and tug driver has gone and its a new face every spring and with it some dire attitude that has no respect for
aeronautical safety.
Have any of you sitting up in the left hand seat ever asked the chap on the headset how much training he has had? My father sat 39 feet up and always knew there was a trained engineer overseeing the engine start up and pushback. I have seen aircraft in reverse with chaps who have only just obtained airside passes within hours. Again it is surely a matter of what you - The Airline - is prepared to pay for and its patently obvious who is prepared to shave some of the overheads!
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Old 6th Dec 2001, 17:27
  #34 (permalink)  
 
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It's interesting to look at this month's AAIB Bulletin and see how many incidents there are ground handling incidents.
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Old 7th Dec 2001, 08:40
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Unhappy

Let's hope that such overworked ground folks don't walk into a PROPELLER. As deadly as a guillotine during the French Revolution.

This killed a young lady working under a Metroliner in Newark (EWR) a few years ago, and to another lady in Memphis (MEM), where she walked into a Saab 340 prop: both might have involved unplugging external power cords. These tragedies might have happened at night, but props are invisible in the daytime, too.

Are they carefully trained to always walk well clear of the engines, with no exceptions allowed? Or are they always in a hurry, with on time departures most important?
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Old 8th Dec 2001, 03:49
  #36 (permalink)  
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This thread explains why baggage handlers never handle baggage. They throw it.

For some years it has amazed me that BHs treat our bags with such abandon when we are watching. I have often looked out of the window and watched the BHs transferring the bags from the trolleys to the belt loader.

They throw, sling, toss and kick when they could just as easily pick, lift and place them. I often seen my own bag being badly treated.

Now I understand that these are people who will be living on the ramp for only a short period of time and have no interest in looking after my bags.

Question: When my bag is damaged - who do I complain to? The Airline who must ultimately be responsible?
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Old 28th Feb 2002, 22:28
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EDI, Tue night !. .Make that 12 times in 3 years. More money down the drain. <img src="mad.gif" border="0"> .
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Old 28th Feb 2002, 23:59
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Talking

Do you think it is a requirement for ground crew to have passed their driving licenses before being allowed to tear around the ramp in v. close proximity to expensive aeroplanes?. . When I was doing my I.R. I watched a chap remove the steps from a 757 and then pull away and ram them into the tailplane! The a/c was u/s for nearly 4 days after if I remember correctly. EXPENSIVE mistake. Also a friend told me rescently of an incident where some steps were speared into the rear fuz of the BAe146 he was flying damaging the APU exhaust! Minor incidents with expensive results.
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Old 1st Mar 2002, 00:40
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Red face

I'd just completed the transit check and was driving back to the office when over the radio I heard the aircraft reg being mentioned, so returned, to find a set of canopied steps had reversed of the aft pax door and proceeded to reverse to a position on the other side, awaiting an inbound aircraft on the next stand. In doing so managed to remove a triangular corner piece of the RH stabilizer T/E tip, 10 inches x 10 inches, which had plumeted to the ground. Long down time for the manufacturer to make the parts.
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Old 1st Mar 2002, 03:45
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As a past ground staff for a regional airline and a commercial pilot I will tell you the reason why these incidents of aircraft being damaged on the ground occur. It is because the airline hire these twits directly off the streets with no aviation background whatsoever. As a pilot myself I took a great deal of care in preparing an aircraft for departure.. .Some of the things I saw on the tarmac would give you nightmares!. .people nearly walking straight into props, aircraft moving out from the bay with tail stand still hooked on, driving GPU away without disconnecting first, driving tugs into the side of aircraft! The worst sight I saw was a CRJ-200 try to taxi out but unable to turn as the ground staff forgot to do up the torque links!!!
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