A New Approach to Wingwalker Marshalling - Voice Communication
Updated: Jun 17, 2022
Wingwalker Marshalling is a discipline that is not well known in aviation circles. As we study the aviation courses, we discover that it is to provide each candidate with sufficient knowledge and skills to safely perform the duties of an aircraft marshaller or wing/tail walker. Moreover, a major aspect of course outcomes is to be able to recognize the inherent dangers of ramp operations and to plan ways of minimizing them.
Most ground operations courses cover a variety of topics.
Roles and responsibilities of an Aircraft Marshal and Wing walker
Working Environment & Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Foreign Objects and Debris (FOD)
Rules of the Apron, Operational Awareness & Considerations
Fixed Wing Marshal Signals
Rotor Wing Marshal Signals
Standard Emergency Signals
Basic aircraft recognition
An important point emphasized in this lineup is Wing Walker's inability to communicate with the Pilot through VHF radio at any stage during the operation. There is a general understanding that the term "Marshaller" refers to the safe guidance of an aircraft to its parking bay. Pilots in command, PIC, are informed in advance of their assigned parking bay for an airfield via radio communication on a selected frequency.
Throughout this process, they are unaware of the surroundings they will be parking in or who will park next to them. The following questions pertain to the dimensions of the wingspan and length of these potential aircraft, the duration of time they have been parked in their assigned parking bay, and the anticipated start-up date for the aircraft. As an example, the arriving PIC does not know if baggage handlers, tugs, refuelling or catering trucks may be attending to any of the aircraft along with their allocated *stand, at any time during the parking bay procedures.
Along comes the Wingwalker Marshaller, who is trained to use all of their senses to communicate with the pilot by using marshalling signals, making sure the parking aircraft, or the aircraft currently being pushed back out of their parking bay, are kept safe from any potential obstacles in its path throughout this process.
All of the signals they use in this process are intended to guarantee a safe process, so it requires focus and attention to detail. It might also be helpful if they had access to a VHF radio and could communicate directly with the PIC while busy with parking bay procedures, just like the engineer on the ground does with scheduled aircraft when their engines have started in the parking bay and, prior to their pushback procedures?
Could voice communication between Wingwalker Marshaller and PIC increase the safety mechanism of such an operation?
On an important side note: In Canada, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada ( ISED ) requires that any operator of radiotelephone equipment, onboard aircraft and at aeronautical land (fixed and mobile) radio stations using aeronautical mobile frequencies, be the holder of a Restricted Operator Certificate-Aeronautical. To put it simply - You need a ROC-A license. Contact RocaLicence@gmail.com and we will get you sorted.
A list of Pro`s and Con`s follow in this respect for each:
Wingwalker Marshalling Procedures:
Proven to be 95% successful.
Guidelines are standard across the globe.
Errors still occur in real-time resulting in potential incidents/accidents.
Inability to get the PIC's attention in real-time due to human error.
Wingwalker Marshalling Procedures: (Proposed)
Communicate in real-time with the PIC.
Prepare a plan in advance.
Possible interference on the frequency being used due to multiple transmissions at the same time between Wingwalker Marshallers and PIC.
No procedures have been developed, published, or tested.
This brief outline above indicates that there is no guarantee of complete safety during related operations. The possibility of combining the two modes and using them simultaneously during related operations could be considered a remedy. However, this is only part of a broader discussion and these are just thoughts and opinions. Tell us what you think - Write to us at Rocalicence@gmail.com
*stand – a term used in Aviation that also refers to a parking bay.
www.RocaLicence.com provides free study material on our website. Simply enter your email address on our website, confirm your subscription, and you'll receive all the important information in PDF format via email. To schedule your ROC-A examination, please contact us.
All the best!