In aviation, the term "ground handling" refers to the wide range of services provided to facilitate an aircraft flight or aircraft ground repositioning, preparation for and upon conclusion of a flight which will include both customer service and ramp service functions.
Customer Service Functions include
KGS Group Consult provides professional advice in a variety of specialized fields, including:
Ramp Services include:
Whilst the aircraft is on the ground, engineers will also perform routine inspections, rectify minor maintenance issues and make the appropriate entries in the aircraft technical log. Flight crews will perform a preflight inspection of the aircraft in preparation for flight.
Ground handling services may be provided by airline employees or by third party contractors. A large airline may still use its own employees for virtually all ground handling functions at its main base with the possible exceptions of refuelling and catering if this is judged to be cost effective. At out-stations where there are fewer Company flights, more services will be subcontracted and the number of Company-employed personnel will frequently be minimal, potentially reduced to limited engineering cover or to a single, part time Company representative. Nowadays, many airlines subcontract a majority of their ground handling services. General aviation flights will usually use an airport Fixed Base Operator (FBO) for their ground handling requirements.
The inherent risks in the ground handling process, especially for ramp services are numerous. Tasks may be carried out in a high noise, high traffic area, both in daylight and in darkness, in all weather conditions and in all extremes of temperature. Various types of large machinery working in close proximity, the handling of flammable liquids and dangerous cargo, and working at heights during the loading, catering and refueling of large aircraft all pose their own perils. The following is a non-exhaustive list of some of the inherent risks that could be encountered whilst providing ground handling services to an aircraft:
To help mitigate these risks, improve safety and optimise efficiency, various organisations provide specialised training ( e.g. Ramp Resource Management courses) to supplement the job and safety training provided to ramp workers by their respective employers.