Airport GSE Operations Safety Enhanced with Fleet Telematics

GSE operations safety

Oct 31, 2017

Airports are busy and getting busier every year. Airports Council International reports that both global passenger traffic and air cargo traffic have steadily increased and show no signs of slowing. These increases place demands on every aspect of the airport, especially GSE operations safety.

Ground Support Equipment Managers have to find new ways to meet the safety demands of busier airports, while maintaining continued operation. GSE fleet telematics can directly help to meet those demands. Fleet telematics is advanced technology designed to maximize overall fleet and operator safety for aviation ground support.


This post outlines how to use fleet telematics to improve the GSE operations safety.

We discuss four (4) key aspects:

  • How to use of core features specifically for safety
  • What to do with increased visibility into risk
  • How telematics supports brand security
  • The necessity of protecting your equipment


#1: How to use core features to keep people and equipment safe

The four (4) core safety features of GSE telematics include:

  1. Operator Authorization
  2. Pre-Operational Checklists
  3. Enforced Seatbelt Use
  4. Speed Control

Using these out of the box product features is simple and easy at every level of a GSE operation.


Operator Authorization

Getting I.D.’d’ has never felt so safe

Before vehicle start, GSE telematics requires onboard driver authentication. Installed ID card readers reduce the operation of equipment by unauthorized personnel.

This type of permissioned access can clearly reduced damage to equipment by unauthorized personnel, but more importantly, can reduce injury to untrained, non-certified, or inexperienced GSE crew members.


Pre-Operational Checklists

Check off peace of mind

GSE managers have the ability to equip every unit in their airport fleet with a digital pre-operational safety checklist. These checklists allow units to be inspected wirelessly and will not allow equipment to be operated until specific maintenance checks are completed and passed.

A pre-operational or pre-shift checklist allows repairs to be made before more extensive, and of course, more expensive damage occurs. It also eliminates any staff ambiguities surrounding maintenance processes. All members of your GSE crew, from the experienced to those new to the job, can have confidence in the operation of their equipment and their workplace with this pre-operational checklist.

Enforced Seatbelt Use

Wearable technology at its safest

To make sure seatbelts are worn at all times GSE telematics includes intelligent driver restraint interlocks. This ensures equipment or vehicles cannot be operated until an operator has secured a seatbelt.

In the event of an incident, this ensures that the operator is harnessed within the safe zone of the equipment or vehicle.


Speed Control

Feeling the need for speed’ does not fly for GSE operations. Literally.

The speed limiters built into a GSE telematics system are designed to control the speed of airport ground support vehicles. Dynamic technology allows for accurate adjustments to fleet speed control for a variety of different environments, terrain, and loads.

Safety standards should never be sacrificed to increase the pace of GSE operations in order to meet increasing demands. Despite the perceived need to speed up operations to meet the time demands of busier airports, implementing speed controls via telematics actually increases operational efficiency and diminishes downtime. This benefit is due to the reduced downtime inherent in disruptions and distractions from accidents, damage, and injury caused by operating equipment at high speeds.


#2. What to do with increased visibility into risk

Risk is “exposure to the chance of injury or loss; a hazard or dangerous chance”. Clearly risk is not predictable, but in aviation ground support process and preparation can greatly reduce risk.

By providing wireless monitoring of real-time fleet data, from literally anywhere, telematics helps GSE teams avoid risk more easily and more often than in the past. Telematics affords GSE Managers insight into operator behaviour and provides a framework from which to ensure overall operational compliance.


So, what do you do with this new, real-time information about potential risk:

  • View graphical charts to quickly analyze impending risk associated with aircraft vehicle or aircraft handling equipment
  • Launch more timely investigations into incidents with receipt of immediate alerts
  • Compare current and historical driver records to create optimized operator schedules and institute appropriate plans for training and supervision
  • Drill-down into more specific vehicle and equipment maintenance to build more informed periodic scheduled maintenance
  • Track and record a wider range of data for benchmarking

Operator Behaviour

Operator Identification Card-Swipe Access

As noted above, ensuring operators receive training, participate in ongoing education, gain certifications, and establish a good sense of workplace safety should be standard operating procedure for GSE crews.

But, as the Checklist Manifesto notes, “…we are fallible, even as experts.”

Implementing the use of GSE telematics improves processes and provides a better understanding of training requirements for operators. Telematics also provides for an added layer of protection with automated fail safes. The reductions in risk associated with operator behavior from the use of telematics can be seen in the following:


  • Safety focused start-up sequences with the installation of the pre-shift checklist
  • Restrictions for unsafe driving with the use of aggressive driving detection and runway incursion avoidance
  • Immediate incident investigation with the use of impact detection on all gse equipment


Increases in accountability of operators from the introduction of telematics leads to huge decreases in avoidable damage to product, infrastructure, and personnel.


Operational Pressures

GSE Managers are at times faced with conflicting objectives – limit, reduce, or avoid airport downtime while maintaining efficiency and overall GSE operations safety.

Telematics helps to minimize the negative impact of achieving one of these goals over the other. GSE Managers are measured by their ability to both prevent downtime and deliver continuous and safe airport operations. Managers utilizing telematics can use real-time data to be more prepared for the unexpected and to achieve success in both metrics by:


  • Maintaining equipment to continually meet compliance standards with proactive periodic maintenance scheduling
  • Ensuring authorized access to vehicles and equipment by trained operators at all times with wireless verification and I.D. card access
  • Mitigating potential risk with increased operator accountability using detectable and trackable vehicle operation data


#3: How telematics enhances brand security

Safety for your brand. Telematics help you proactively protect your organization from financial loss and harm to your reputation in the marketplace.

By implementing simple ways to mitigate risk to your crew, your equipment, and your airport you can prevent the number of accidents, injuries, and safety violations that have the potential for a disastrously negative impact on your brand.

Today, your brand can instantly become:


  • The topic of world-wide online conversations
  • The focus of compliance and safety investigations
  • The defendant in high profile, costly legal matters


Why would you not what to take steps to keep your brand safe?

Create a culture of compliance with GSE telematics. Implementing and utilizing the built in safety features of telematics technology highlights a substantive and provable commitment to safety at every level of your organization, from management to ground crew. A reputation for the highest standards of safety is definitely not a bad ‘rep’ for your brand to have!


#4: The necessity of protecting your GSE equipment

Prevent Accidents with GSE Telematics

Telematics has become a necessary resource GSE operations safety. Telematics allow you to easily locate and proactively service your fleet, and to essentially “protect everything with a key”. The need for GSE Telematics to improve fleet safety becomes extremely evident when you consider:


  • The cost of telematics implementation versus the cost of:
    • Equipment repair
    • Equipment replacement
      (Belt and cargo loaders can run into the $200,000 range!)
    • Legal fees associated with workplace accident and injuries cases
    • Fines imposed for unsafe workplace practices
    • Public relations and marketing investments to combat negative brand messaging
  • Telematics are easily installed, and can be added to virtually every unit in your fleet aftermarket:
    • Push Backs
    • Baggage Tugs
    • Bag Tractors
    • Belt Loaders
    • Cargo Loaders
  • Installation can also be done on Airport Authority equipment:
    • Snow Clearing Equipment
    • Runway Maintenance Vehicles and Equipment

Conclusion & Call-To-Action:  

The combination of product features, insight into risk, brand security, and equipment protection make a very obvious case for the use of GSE Telematics to improve safety.

Using telematics can quickly move any aviation ground support equipment operation towards becoming a very safe workplace. If you would like to get more information about using fleet telematics, we’d be happy to show you! Schedule a demo of the AVRO Tracker for you and your team today.

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