Airports around the world are becoming increasingly busy as commercial flight rates and other factors lead to significant growth in both passenger and cargo air traffic.  In fact, revenue passenger kilometers are expected to grow by almost 5% by 2037.

To keep airports profitable and efficient, ground handling operations are under more pressure than ever to speed up aircraft turnaround times.  Turnaround times currently range from 25 minutes for short haul budget airlines, to 90 minutes for long haul premium airlines, during which many different activities must take place.  Re-fueling, inspections, cleaning, baggage handling, cargo handling and passenger boarding must all be choreographed to take place in this small timeframe, with many happening simultaneously.

With airside operations under pressure to perform, the risk of ground support equipment accidents can increase.  It is estimated that 80% of airport accidents take place at the gate and on the apron.

So how can ground handlers improve aircraft turnaround times?

Here are 4 top tips from RTITB Airside, a global training consultancy, to help you increase airside efficiency without compromising safety.

1. Analyze operations

Close analysis of operations can help you to identify risks and inefficiencies throughout the aircraft turnaround process.  Taking a step back to conduct a thought audit and examination of ground handling operations can lead to improvements in processes, communication, operator training and supervision in the many different operations taking place during each aircraft turnaround.  The RTITB Airside HealthCheck can prove invaluable for this.

2. Improve accuracy

Efficiency and safety are closely linked.  By improving accuracy and ensuring safe operations, you can increase safety.  For instance, an operator using a belt loader carefully and precisely is less likely to come into contact with an aircraft.  This avoids the delays, repairs and costs of passenger compensations that could be incurred. More importantly, it helps avoid potentially catastrophic airside accidents.  Similarly, a hi-loader operator that understands how to operate safely at height will be less likely to fall, avoiding the human cost of airside vehicle accidents as well as the associated medical costs and resource issues this could cause you.

The RTITB Airside Consultancy service can help you identify a clear action plan for improving accuracy and safety in your operations.

3. Standardize training

One important way that you can improve efficiency, accuracy, and in turn, safety, is through delivering correct and standardized ground support equipment training.  Tailored airside equipment training, made to meet your specific airport operating environment, can help ensure that all operators have the same high level of skill for safe ground support equipment operations. It can also help your operators to develop greater situational awareness and a greater appreciation of airside safety.  This in turn can help all parties involved in aircraft turnaround and airside operations to work together more harmoniously.

RTITB Airside provides Airside Equipment Instructor training that can help you ensure consistently high operator training standards.

4. Encourage communication

In our experience providing consultancy for global airports, we have seen time and again that airside operations that encourage a team ethic and open communication are not only happier and more productive, but also safer. As a ground handling operator, you should create an environment where your airside operatives are encouraged to speak up if they see anything happening that could affect safety. In the short term this can help prevent airside accidents, but in the long term it can help support process improvements and efficiency gains.

You also have the important role of ensuring that safety policies and standards are communicated effectively to your team, through training and more.  RTITB Airside offers a range of other airside safety services so that we can work together to support your communications.

When it comes to improving airport turnaround times, there is no one size fits all solution. For more information or ideas on how RTITB Airside can help you save time and increase efficiency, contact your regional RTITB Airside specialist today.