During a normal travel year, airliners may constantly be operating as they land and takeoff around the world to transport passengers. Due to the sheer number of operations taking place each day, aircraft require quick turnovers upon landing so that they can continue on to their next destination with rapid succession. Despite the process of landing to take off being very rapid, there are numerous crucial procedures that are carried out to ensure an aircraft is properly situated for another flight. In this blog, we will discuss the steps taken upon landing an aircraft to the moment that it lifts off once again, allowing you to best understand how the turnover process is conducted.
Upon touching down on a runway, the first step that is carried out is to have the pilots communicate with ground controllers to safely taxi across the runway. Runways can be very busy areas with numerous hazards, thus it is crucial that proper direction is given for efficient management. With the assistance of a ramp team leader, pilots will be directed to their assigned gate and can then line themselves up correctly. Depending on the airport and its configuration, a pilot may be guided with the use of a lead-in lighting system or may follow instructions provided by the ramp lead. Once the nose wheel has been positioned correctly in the space, the plane can park itself.
As the jet engine or APU may use a great amount of power that is more beneficial for flight, a ground power system or generator will typically be connected to the aircraft to provide electricity while personnel prepare for passenger disembarking. Once the engines have been shut down and power has been established through external means, air conditioning is also provided externally to ensure passenger comfort. Depending on the size of the aircraft, one or two connections may be needed to sufficiently cool or heat the cabin.
In order to allow passengers to safely leave the aircraft, the gate may be attached to the cabin door or a truck or car with mounted stairs will position itself next to the fuselage. While most airliners will need either a gate or mounted stairs to leave the cabin, some smaller regional jets may be close enough to the ground and have built-in staircases for entering and exiting. While passengers are leaving, the ramp team will have already begun removing luggage and cargo into a baggage cart so that it can be transported to the baggage room and then the carousel. As jumbo jets can often carry large amounts of baggage that needs to quickly be removed, cargo pods serve as a solution that only requires one worker for operations while bags are placed.
In order to prepare for the next flight, catering trucks and a crew will restock the galley carts with more food and drinks, and they will often have lifts or other equipment to easily get materials inside the aircraft. Meanwhile, the cabin seats and toilets are cleaned, restocked with supplies, and checked so that everything is prepped and ready to go for the next set of passengers. As the last major procedure for preparing the aircraft, the fuel needed for the next operation is calculated and then the tanks are replenished as needed with the use of a tanker truck.
Once all preparations have been completed, the next round of passengers can board the aircraft and find their seats. Once pre-flight preparations are finalized, the cabin door is sealed and tugs or tractors will begin moving the aircraft away from the gate. From that point, the aircraft will work with air traffic control to begin the takeoff procedure and liftoff. Once the aircraft is safely in the air, crew members and pilots can return to their normal operations until the next destination is reached and the cycle begins again.
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