Summer 2023

Supporting safe and efficient ramp operations

Supporting safe and efficient ramp operations

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) offers training to support safe and efficient operations for most sectors of the aviation industry. In the area of ground operations, its training covers a wide spectrum: starting with brief eLearning and self-study courses for new joiners and awareness level topics right up to highly technical and business management topics, like SMS [safety management system] Implementation, Station Management and Standard Ground Handling Agreements.

According to Dimitrios Sanos, senior product manager airport, fuel and ground operations training for IATA, “Our aim is to meet the training needs of all audiences. For new entrants, where higher throughput is needed, we offer eLearning and self-study courses (for example Aircraft Marshalling eLearning), as well as train-the-trainer options.

“Then, for higher level specialisation, there are specially designed courses that cover the needs of the future supervisors and leaders to effectively manage their ground operations units.”

One of the features of all these courses is to help participants understand what the needs are of “the other side”, Sanos continues, namely: the airport activities of airlines on one hand and the service providers on the other.

One of the current priorities of the industry is to attract and retain talent, he notes. And one of the roles of training programmes and training organisations is – or should be – to show new entrants a career path. “Obviously, training alone cannot support career development. A blend of training and experience can boost a career within the ground operations sector.

“Another area of focus for us is to ensure we maximise training knowledge retention. This is one of the main reasons that in 2018 we introduced virtual reality (VR) training modules. Our platform, RampVR, is a modern tool offered to instructors to let trainees test their knowledge and immediately apply what they have learned. VR has a unique advantage of being able to simulate the live airside environment, which can be difficult to access in reality.”

Certifying competency is a great concept that is “not easy to implement”, Sanos suggests. But he believes IATA has made very good steps towards that, starting with Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR) training. Certainly, the completion of an IATA training course shows a satisfactory level of understanding of the topics, and the correct and consistent application of knowledge should be an integral part of the training programme, as well as the supervision and oversight of operations,” he adds.

IATA training courses are based on internationally recognised standards – mainly its own Airport Handling Manual (AHM) and IATA Ground Operations Manual (IGOM). “Standardisation is key in aviation, so standardised training is what we offer to employees,” Sanos informs.

“This ensures that they have transferable skills and that ground services providers are able to secure qualified manpower.”

Of course, the big handlers with extensive operations in several countries have internal training programmes of their own to cover their needs but they very often complement their own training offering by selectively sending some employees to attend IATA training courses too. Or they might invite IATA to deliver in-house classes. “These are their preferred options to close knowledge gaps, ensuring that they receive compliant and up-to-date training,” Sanos advises.

There are ongoing trends in ramp handling that are being reflected in changing course content. “For our industry, one of the very few positive side effects of the pandemic is that all of us became more flexible and resourceful,” says Sanos. “In the training domain, we had to react fast, trying out several new methods to achieve the same targets.

“Live-virtual classes served the purpose during lockdowns and for some brief and less technical topics, they have become a more permanent option. Also, blending training methods gives more flexible options to trainees and more affordable training programmes to companies. For example, the use of quick eLearning courses before a classroom session can meet some needs, reducing the duration of the session.”