Schools Training

A Ground Support Check List for Landing

9 OCT 2012
Career Path : Aviation

Most people who have travelled by air know the feeling: the plane finally lands, taxis around the runway for a little bit, stops, the lights come on, and we’re all dying to get off, stretch our legs, call our loved ones, and get on with our day. There is nothing more frustrating than having to sit patiently once the plane has stopped after a long flight, but it often happens and we have no choice.

Have you ever wondered exactly what goes on once the plane hits the ground? Not only while we must sit back and wait to exit the plane, but also when we’re sitting at the gate waiting to board? One can imagine that there are numerous safety and security checks that go on, not to mention the loading of our luggage and basic cleaning.

There are in fact many processes that go on while a plane is on the ground that require the expertise of many specialists and the use of much sophisticated equipment. Some airlines handle these processes themselves, but in many cases, independent companies are sub-contracted to manage the servicing of airplanes in the terminals. Sometimes, smaller airlines can use the services of the larger airlines and their ground support equipment.

Here is a brief description of some of the protocol for ground service and the equipment used.

– Water: Clean drinking potable water is supplied to the aircraft with specialized water carts.

– Waste: Lavatory waste is stored on the aircraft until landing and then removed with special suction hoses then removed by lav carts. A mixture of water and disinfectant fluid (the blue stuff) is then refilled.

– Air: To ensure the in-flight temperature is steady, air-conditioning units are checked and serviced, focusing on condenser coils, control-circuits, compressors and condensers.

– Heat: Heat produced by clean-air technology is provided by self-contained towable units which are transferred via a duct into the aircraft’s fuselage.

– Fuel: Refueling is often done with special self-contained hydrant trucks complete with pumps, filters and hoses. Regular fuel trucks can also be used, but are less common because they require constant refueling themselves.

– Power: Either in a truck or cart form, or sometimes built directly into the boarding bridge, ground power units deliver both direct and alternate current from a generator to the aircraft.

– Baggage: The luggage of the current passengers is removed while new luggage is put on using baggage carts pulled by baggage tractors.

These are some of the more technical items on the landing checklist that make use of heavy duty ground service equipment. Other things like catering services, cabin cleaning, and staff replacement also require attention with every stop. Finally, no passenger flight is complete without the vacationers, traveling businessmen, adventure-seekers, study-abroaders, globe-trotters, wanderlusters, and everyone else off to discover the world or return safely home. We may not put much thought into it, but the care and diligence of great ground support crews is what makes air travel possible.

Visit GTA Aviation Ground Equipment Specialties for more information on airline equipment.