Like any other equipment, GSE – especially the motorised kinds – require ongoing maintenance (and occasional repairs). Airport authorities have an oversight role in ensuring that GSE operators keep their GSE safe and efficient
One very common tool that airport operators use to ensure their ground handlers always maintain their GSE in a safe and efficient state is to write those conditions into their formalised contracts (service level agreements – SLAs) with those ground service providers.
In the US, at Florida’s Miami International Airport (MIA), operator Miami-Dade Aviation Department (MDAD) has SLAs with its handlers. It also goes further to ensure that MIA’s five ‘general aeronautical service permittees’ keep their equipment in good order.
A typical SLA issued by MDAD to a ground handler requires all equipment to be “in good working condition… and be suitable for the services required in this Permit”.
The permittee must provide MDAD with a list of all mechanical and motorised equipment and vehicles used, while MDAD “shall have the right… to inspect, at any time, the vehicles and equipment of the Permittee for proper safety equipment and general operating condition”.
A list of non-motorised equipment such as cargo and baggage is also required, and MDAD sets “reasonable standards” for this equipment to which the permittee must adhere.
With regard to motorised GSE, MDAD’s Airside Division checks on safety issues such as mechanical fluid leaks and engine smoke on an ongoing basis, while Lonny Craven, director of airside operations at MIA, explains that MDAD’s Airside Division performs a basic safety inspection on motor vehicles prior to issuance of an airside operations area (AOA) decal (sticker). He also confirms that any vehicle’s insurance has to have a minimum coverage of US$5 million.
MDAD also performs brake safety checks on trailers, dollies and carts in the event of an accident, while any inoperative GSE is ordered off the airfield until repaired. A typical SLA stresses that “The Department [MDAD] shall further have the right to require removal from the AOA [Air Operations Area] of any vehicle or equipment of the Permittee determined by the Department … to be unsafe or which may cause environmental damage”.
To maintain their equipment in the appropriate condition, some permittees have their own workshops, and some call upon other permittees to perform repairs, Craven adds.
Across the Atlantic, in Sweden, national airport operator Swedavia owns and develops 10 air gateways, including Stockholm Arlanda, Gothenburg Landvetter and Malmö.
Anders Östlings, head of airside operations at the national airport operator, explains that Swedavia does not have SLAs with its handlers regarding their equipment and its use, but that safety and environmental requirements are defined in its Airport Regulations system.
The system states that each ground handling company must have a self-monitoring programme that includes documented internal inspections. The fulfilment and outcome of these programmes are subject to inspection during Swedavia’s safety audits, Östlings notes. Besides that, Swedavia staff perform random checks.
Most GSE maintenance is carried out at on-site facilities, he continues. Swedavia offers maintenance services to ground handling companies, but the three major ground handling companies have their own workshops.
Those three major ‘full handlers’ operating for Swedavia are SAS Ground Handling Sweden AB, Aviator Airport Alliance AB and Menzies Aviation, working at Stockholm Arlanda, Landvetter and Malmö airports.
Besides them, Swedevia works with a number of ground handling companies that specialise in particular services such as fuelling, de-icing or cleaning, or in a specific industry segment (such as general aviation).
At Swedavia’s regional airports, the operator’s own staff are responsible for ground handling services.
Swedavia is currently running a project to implement common-use equipment at Stockholm Arlanda Airport and Gothenburg Landvetter Airport. The purpose of the project is to set an airport standard, to reduce the total amount of equipment and to increase the quality of that equipment in terms of environmental emissions and so improve the general working environment.