Ground handling is pretty much standard wherever you go in commercial aviation. Line personnel in Guarulhos Airport in Sao Paulo, Brazil follow the same rules and procedures than those in Manchester Airport in the UK. Regulations in aviation, as you know, speak one same language.
But what happens in the private aviation market, where the amount of time an aircraft stays on the ground varies mightily, as with the number of passengers and type of plane? Monarch Air Group takes us through the whole ground handling process of a private jet.
The ground handling process
Arrival expected for 11:00 in the morning, the FBO manager at first thing in the morning has been briefed about the dozen flights his staff will be servicing today. Within those flights is a Gulfstream G650 arriving from White Plains Airport in New York, probably the largest executive jet in the market, which will be grounded for three hours before a quick departure towards its next destination two hours away, while heading to a city without any major handling services nor fueling coordination.
The jet’s operator demanded the aircraft to be hangered due to the expected inclement weather on the ground, therefore space needs to be available before 11:00 for this large aircraft to be parked indoors. After a 6-hour international flight and considering no refueling service is available on its next destination, the first 30 minutes will be spent refueling the G650 and providing lavatory and water services or, in other words, performing below-wing services.
Furthermore, coordination for the 19 passengers onboard is paramount for a swift all-around operation, therefore customs and immigration services need to be in place the minute the aircraft arrives. 10 passengers will continue the journey and consequently, 10 kilograms less of luggage per person will be available, two variables that have been already calculated for the right amount of fuel in order to adapt to the destination’s runways limitations.
The ground transportation service and hotel accommodations for the 9 passengers that previously disembarked worked as planned. All the previous are the above-wing services offered to business aviation.
Finally, after accommodating 10 passengers for three hours in the FBO’s lounge and loading the exact in-flight catering requested by the demanding private jet clients for their next route, the Gulfstream G650 is ready for a swift boarding process. Luggage already on-board, the crew checked-in and the aircraft in a position right in front of the main lounge.
There are plenty of moving parts in the ground handling service of a private jet, and it separates from the process in commercial aviation mainly by its level of customization, whereas the type of clients determines the kind of services that will be performed. Plenty of moving parts, but nothing line professionals can’t handle.
Above-wing versus below-wing
The private aviation market as a whole, for either piston, turboprop, or jet aircraft, has different handling requirements in comparison to commercial aviation. The whole essence of this segment demands a tailored service depending on the aircraft, time on ground, destination, and number of passengers. Handling can be separated into two segments.
There are above-wing services, which assist the crew and passengers with and customs and immigration in a Fixed-Base Operator (FBO), hotel accommodations and ground transportation to the hotel and vice versa, and in-flight catering. All the previous vary depending on the aircraft size and route, which determines the size of the crew and number of passengers, the catering needs and the duration of the whole customs and immigration process.
The other type of service, the so-called below-wing, comprised of all the amenities that surround the aircraft. Fueling coordination, hangarage if needed, the provision of the Ground Support Equipment (GSE), baggage handling, lavatory and water services, stairs when required and ground power units, within others. The latter type of service is standard for almost any aircraft, private, or commercial, while the above-wing services are reserved for the business aviation market.
Established in 2005, Monarch Air Group is a leading provider of the on-demand private jet charter, aircraft management, and long-term aircraft lease. Among Monarch’s customers are Fortune 500 corporations, leading entrepreneurs, Government agencies and world-leading NGO’s.