Nowadays, incidents involving aircraft damage on the ground become a serious problem. Although aviation is the safest commercial transport, ground handling safety management should take measures to prevent ground-safety troubles.
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According to Balk, airlines suffer approximately $10 000 000 000 because of damages that result from ground-related accidents. Common Taxonomy Team defines ramp damage (“ramp rush”) as “occurrences during (or as a result of) ground handling operations” (8). There are many of the potential typical threats of every arrival and departure that comprise towing and docking equipment, service vehicles, tire separation, etc. causing ramp damage.
To begin with, such environmental conditions as night, daylight, dawn or dusk, rain, fog, snow, thunderstorm, and others are the possible reasons. The second factor is aircraft state that complicated by the following accidents: aircraft was parked, but brakes or chocks malfunction or error made, during pushback or taxiing, with brake set, aircraft state unknown.
Moreover, ramp vehicle also matters because of many ground equipment act in the environs of the airplane on the ground, especially during turnarounds at the gate. Incidents concerning catering vehicles, passenger-boarding bridges, cargo, and passenger loading and unloading, baggage carts, and other servicing vehicles might cause considerable damage. Additionally, aircraft damage location factor plays an important role: primarily doors, engine, and fuselage suffer.
The actual value of a ground accident is high. According to Landry and Ingolia, “conservatively estimated ground accidents worldwide cost air carriers $10 billion annually” (58). Airlines suffer from direct costs that are infrequently reported to insurance companies and from direct costs that may extend out for years. Indirect costs may include lost direct revenue, flight cancelation, replacement labor, management and supervision time, passenger food and lodging, and, finally, damage to the public image (Kanki 3).
If compared with an iceberg, direct costs form just the top that is visible above the water, but everybody knows that the rest of it under the water and it is rather big – this is indirect costs. It is obvious that indirect costs are greater than direct. For example, America West Airline’s direct costs compose $17,000 in the case when catering truck hits the airplane and $230,000 indirect costs in the same case: and when jetway hits indirect airplane costs evaluated in $600,000 while direct costs are $50,000 (America West Airlines).
In order to prevent substantial expenses described afore, it is undoubtedly worthwhile for airlines and aviation companies to invest in ground operations safety and train all the staff working in the ramp and gate areas. However, some enhancements are already made: “We have utilized advanced training techniques in simulators, introduced CRM to the cockpit, cabin and maintenance operations,” states Landry (32).
There already exists Ground Accident Prevention (GAP) Initiative project that created to “reduce incidents and accidents that occur during ground operations on airport aprons and during the movement of aircraft in and out of hangars” (Airport Apron Management and Control Programs 3). GAP’s different teams explore several areas of ramp damage: collecting and analyzing the data, developing program awareness and industry involvement, designing measures to eliminate the losses, and others.
In conclusion, it should be stressed that ramp damage occurs due to particular consequences and airplane configuration. It brings huge losses to airlines. To provide customers with high-quality service and protect themselves from money loss, air carriers should invest in ground handling safety – equipment, maintenance, and awareness.
Airport Apron Management and Control Programs. ACRP. Washington, D.C.: Transportation Research Board, 2012. Print.
America West Airlines. Web. 2015.
Balk, Andrew D. Safety of ground handling. 2008. Web.
Kanki, Barbara G., and Connie L. Brasil. Analysis of Ramp Damage Incidents and Implications for Future Composite Aircraft Structure. Web.
Landry, Joanne. Lessons Learned from Airport Safety Management Systems Pilot Studies. Washington, D.C.: Transportation Research Board, 2012. Print.
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Landry, Joanne, and Shane Ingolia. Ramp Safety Practices. Washington, D.C.: Transportation Research Board, 2011. Print.