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Why Ramp Handling Services Are Essential for Your Flight

21 Jun, 2024

Why Ramp Handling Services Are Essential for Your Flight

One of the busiest places on earth – airport ramps are almost always full. Thousands of planes fly in and out of airports during the day, demanding the undivided attention and expert ground operations of flight service providers around the clock.

Once a plane touches down, the ground service provider is called into action. All services on the ground must be executed promptly and efficiently following ground handling standards. Otherwise, airlines and airports will be subject to delays and complications that will throw a spoke in their wheel of operations.

Airport ramp services act as an invisible engine that keeps the aviation industry running smoothly and efficiently. It’s crucial for any flight’s success and must be executed accurately because mishandled ramp services are a price that no aviation business can afford to pay. The ripple effect of improper ramp handling services includes disruptions, delays, increased costs, security risks, and negative passenger experience.

Therefore, as an aviation business, a part of your strategic plan should be to carefully choose a trustworthy flight service provider with extensive knowledge in the industry. In other words, a ground handling provider that can ensure success for all of your flights on the ground and in the sky through efficient and professional services.

 

What Are Ramp Handling Services?

Ramp handling services refer to the wide range of ground-based assistance provided to airplanes while they are parked at the airport terminal. These services ensure a seamless aircraft turnaround between flights, encompassing various tasks critical to the aviation industry’s ground handling operations. Ground agents carry out a set of critical tasks and ramp activities including:

 

1. Aircraft Marshalling:

Guiding the aircraft precisely into and out of its designated parking position using hand signals or lighted wands. This ensures safe maneuvering on the often-congested airport apron, minimizing the risk of collisions with other aircraft, ground vehicles, or airport infrastructure.

 

2. Cargo and Baggage Handling:

Loading and unloading cargo and baggage efficiently while adhering to strict weight and balance limitations. This involves using ground support equipment like conveyor belts, loaders, and dollies, ensuring proper cargo securing methods, and following established procedures to minimize damage or loss.

 

3. Refueling and Ground Power:

Refueling: A main part of ground handling services is supplying the aircraft with the necessary aviation fuel type and quantity safely by using specialized refueling vehicles, adhering to safety protocols, and ensuring accurate fuel measurements to avoid fuel spills.

Ground Power: Providing the aircraft with external electrical power from a ground power unit to run vital onboard systems like lighting, air conditioning, and navigation equipment while parked at the gate.

 

4. Cabin Cleaning and Preparation:

Thoroughly cleaning the cabin to ensure a hygienic and comfortable environment for incoming passengers. This aspect of ground handling operations consists of removing trash, vacuuming carpets, wiping down surfaces, and restocking essential items like toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Additionally, the cabin crew may prepare the cabin for the next flight by setting up seats, adjusting lighting, and ensuring all safety equipment is properly positioned.

 

5. Catering and Lavatory Services:

Catering: Loading pre-ordered meals, drinks, and other catering supplies onto the aircraft for passengers and crew using catering trucks. It’s critical to follow strict temperature control protocols to maintain food safety and ensure timely delivery to the aircraft.

Lavatory Services: Unloading and disposing of waste from the aircraft’s lavatories as well as replenishing lavatory supplies like soap, towels, and toilet paper.

 

6. De-icing and Anti-icing:

De-icing: Removing accumulated ice and snow from the aircraft’s wings and fuselage before takeoff to ensure safe and smooth operations. This is typically done using de-icing fluids sprayed onto the aircraft.

Anti-icing: Applying a protective layer of fluid on the aircraft’s surfaces to prevent ice formation before takeoff during cold weather conditions. Ground crews apply anti-icing to provide a safe flight and reduce the need for de-icing procedures closer to departure time.

 

7. Pushback and Towing:

Pushback: Assisting the aircraft in maneuvering away from the gate using vehicles called pushback tractors. This allows the aircraft to taxi to the runway for takeoff without using its engines on the ground, reducing noise pollution and fuel consumption.

Towing: Moving the aircraft on the ground using tow tractors in situations where the aircraft’s engines cannot be used, such as during maintenance or in case of an emergency.

 

8. Passenger Boarding and Disembarking:

Ramp operations also encompass the safe and orderly boarding and disembarking of passengers. This involves checking boarding passes, directing passengers to the correct doors, and assisting those with special needs. Ground handling staff also play a crucial role in managing passenger queues, and maintaining a smooth boarding and disembarking process.

 

9. Communication and Coordination:

One of the ground handling basics is maintaining clear and concise communication and coordination between various stakeholders involved in the ground handling process, including airlines, airport authorities, air traffic control, catering companies, and security personnel. Ground handlers make sure everyone is aware of the situation, potential delays, and any changes in the schedule, contributing to the smooth and efficient operation of the entire ground handling process.

 

Why Are They Important?

 

1- On-Time Performance

When it comes to flight operations, time is of the essence. Since no one can afford to lose it, ramp handlers always aim to provide their on-ground services quickly and efficiently while maintaining operational consistency. Minimizing the amount of time an airplane spends on the ground between flights means that airlines can ensure the arrival and departure of flights within optimal time.

 

2- Cost Reduction

The quicker the turnaround the fewer airlines are exposed to delays and cancellations, resulting in less operational costs. On another note, ramp handling operations optimize using equipment and personnel to further contribute to cost savings.

 

3- Safety and Security

It is of the utmost importance that aircraft turnaround meets basic safety requirements. Therefore, flight service providers attend to crucial tasks such as marshaling (guiding) aircraft to parking positions, ensuring proper cargo loading and unloading, and conducting security and regular checks with great attention to detail. This leads to minimizing the risk of accidents, injuries, and security breaches.

 

4- Customer Experience

In the end, it’s all about providing customers with a positive flight experience, and efficient ramp handling is one of the sources that secure that goal. Timely departures, baggage handling, and smooth boarding and disembarking processes all play a role in achieving passenger satisfaction.