An exhausting trip to the airport through traffic jams, long queues for boarding pass, baggage checks, security clearance…there are indeed a lot of things we need to complete before finally getting on the plane. But ever wondered how much work goes into getting an aircraft ready for another flight, especially during a pandemic situation like this!!
From wheels down to wheels up, the ground staff and crew has to finish off a longer to-do-list. Though we need not understand each and every single procedures, some of them might be relevant to the passengers. Let’s take a look at how they ready a flight between landing and take off.
Parking the plane
Parking a plane isn’t as simple as locking up your car and walking away. There are a lot of things to be taken care of. As soon as a plane lands and clears the active runway, the pilots receive taxi instructions from ground controllers. Every flight has an assigned gate. The pilot follows the instructions by the ramp team leader as they approach the terminal. There could also be a lead-in lighting system. The target for the nose wheel is a painted line on the ramp, where the pilot stops the aircraft.
Switching the power
What kind of power an aircraft uses when parked at the airport? An aircraft can generate its own power from its Auxiliary Power Unit (APU). But normally, power provided by the airport is connected to the plane. Once the source of power is switched, the engines are shut down.
Deplaning passengers & unloading the luggage and cargo
Passengers alight the plane while the luggage and the cargo are taken out by a specially assigned team.
We perform extensive cleaning and sanitization to maintain a healthy environment inside the plane. All high contact surfaces and lavatories are cleaned using high grade disinfectants approved by the authorities.
A lot of math goes into making sure that the aircraft has enough fuel. An airline’s operations team has to figure this out. When an aircraft needs fuel, big tanker trucks connect to the plane’s fuel system and pump away.
Checking the aircraft and other pre-flight preparations
Service and maintenance providers have their own checklists. That includes ensuring that all the plane’s parts are working as they should. Aircraft mechanics fix any issues that the pilot of the previous flight reported. The catering team delivers the meals.
Ground security performs routine checks while ground handlers check the plane for any damage and the tarmac for any obstacles. Checked luggage and cargo is loaded onto the aircraft. Gate agents ensure that every passenger has a seat assignment and that if any passenger will need special assistance. Flight attendants and flight crew run through a set of procedures and wait for confirmation that the flight is good to go.
Boarding and take off
The passengers and crew board the aircraft. Again, the pilot needs to ensure that everything is working as it should be before departure. The pilot will then call on the radio, saying he is ‘ready to taxi’. The aircraft is pushed away from the airport gate by tugs. Before the plane enters the taxiway, push-back drivers will disconnect a pin on the nose of the plane. After taxiing, pilots get the final clearance to speed up down the runway and head off into the clouds.