Buyer’s Assessment (BFS)

posted on 9th June 2021
Buyer’s Assessment (BFS)

Ground services provider Bangkok Flight Services (BFS) is both a user and admirer of dBD Communications’ Minerva Ajax wireless communication system. Colin Temple, director – ramp operations at BFS, tells Airside International why…

BFS offers a wide range of ramp handling, passenger handling, operational support, cleaning, cargo handling and warehousing services at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport, Thailand’s largest and busiest air gateway. It is a joint venture of globally active handler Worldwide Flight Services (WFS) and Bangkok Airways.

BFS is using Basildon, UK-based wireless communications specialist dBD Communications’ Minerva Ajax system. Minerva Ajax can enable communications at a wireless range of up to 100m for operations such as pushback, wing walks, engineering and maintenance tasks, where a ground crew needs to stay in communication with an aircraft’s flight deck.

BFS currently has a total of 20 Minerva Ajax headsets. It initially took a tranche of 10, and ordered a further 10 soon afterwards. The pre-pandemic plan had been to convert all of BFS’s 40 headsets used for aircraft/pushback handler communications to the Ajax system, but the impact of the Covid-19 crisis has meant a temporary delay in fulfilling that plan.

The ground services provider uses the Minerva Ajax system for communication between an aircraft flight deck and the BFS pushback controller. Hence BFS typically employs just the one headset for communication, although the system allows multi-way communication between more than two headsets and BFS has used it – and continues to use it – in this configuration for training, during audits and so on.

BFS initially acquired the Minerva system in its boom microphone variant but found that, on occasion, the noise of an aircraft engine – if the crew had fired up the engines during pushback contrary to usual policy – could be heard through the pushback controller’s mike and therefore caused a problem for the flight crew trying to hear a handler’s voice.

The problem was more noticeable for narrowbody pushbacks where the pushback controller would be closer to the aircraft than in the case of a widebody pushback, and BFS handles a lot of narrowbodies in the course of its work.

Hence the ground services provider switched to the Minerva Ajax headset variant with a mouth shield, or closed cup, that can be used in higher noise environments for aircraft pushback, where background noise needs reducing.

Temple first saw the system at an industry event a few years ago and was impressed with the dBD Communications system. He was even more impressed when managing director David O’Connell visited Suvarnabhumi to demonstrate the system’s value and to show just how well it could work as part of BFS’s day-to-day operations. “He made sure that it was exactly what we required,” Temple recalls.

Plus, on the rare occasion when a headset has needed repair, the after-sales service provided by dBD Communications has been excellent, he says.

Minerva Ajax has been well received and proved its worth, Temple continues. As a wireless system, it enables handlers to move freely without being restricted by any cable. That means the BFS pushback controller can always maintain a completely safe distance from any potential hazard and can always perform a full aircraft walkaround as necessary with no encumbrance from a communications cable.

Another safety benefit of a wireless communications system is important at a place like Bangkok, where thunderstorms are not rare and lighting comes with the territory. It is not unknown for handlers to receive a small shock through a wired system if lightning strikes close by, and this problem is averted with a wireless system such as Minerva Ajax.