Due to the nature of the business and the identification of expanding issues, it soon became apparent that the council needed to expand its membership base to include other organizations with ramp and terminal responsibilities. This led to the fuel companies, catering companies, ground handling agencies and the like being offered membership of the council.
But In 1997, a major change was made. It had become a practice to allow representatives from some of the major airports in the region to attend meetings as guests, and it was the growing number of airport representatives attending meetings that led the council to make a very small, yet very significant, change to its title. The word “Aviation” was substituted for “Airline.” The council was now to be known as the Australasian Aviation Ground Safety Council.
This was a very positive move. The evolution to the aviation industry and legislation changes led to wider responsibilities and accountabilities being placed on the airport authorities, and the dependency of the various parties on each other to ensure all legal requirements were met was becoming extremely important.
Over the years the membership of the AAGSC has changed considerably. Both TAA and Ansett-ANA are no longer in existence, but new airlines have emerged. The council now boasts members operating aircraft such as the A380, the Dash 8 and ATR 72, and nearly all Boeing and Airbus models. No less than 17 Australian and New Zealand airports are represented, as are airport support management and consultancy companies. Altogether, membership now numbers more than 50 and interest within the region is strong with six new members joining over the last 12 months.
It is truly amazing what can be achieved with comparatively little effort. For example, recognizing that the state authorities play a large part in setting operating rules and working parameters, the regional safety organization has the opportunity to present a combined voice on the shaping of new rules and/or amendments to those already in existence, thus providing greater weight to arguments for or against changes. The group also has the capability of setting its own recommended procedures in order to assist its members in meeting those rules.
Sometimes the cost of producing safety training and promotional material can be very expensive, and this is where a regional group can pool financial resources for the benefit of all concerned. Recognizing the need for wide appeal, such material can consist of DVD or video training aids, task-specific posters, banners for display in major work areas and, probably most importantly, a dedicated website that is able to be accessed privately by group members and with more limited public access. By these means, there is even the possibility of attracting sales of some products outside the region. (A considerable amount of information regarding the AAGSC can be found at its website, www.aagsc.org).
It is very important that these regional groups be set up on sound business principles, including a carefully worded charter or constitution overseen by an executive led by a suitably qualified chairperson. Other members of the executive team should include the secretary, treasurer, and other officials as required to carry out the variety of tasks that may be undertaken. A meeting schedule should be set to a regular timetable, which should also provide for an Annual General Meeting to deal with administration matters.
Inevitably, members of the executive team will from time to time need to be replaced — either through retirement, moving on to new positions internally or outside of their company, or through the regular rotation policy set out in the organization’s charter or constitution. Invariably, the executive provides the “glue” to keep the organization on track so it is essential that senior members, such as past office holders, keep a watchful eye on executive succession planning.
Becoming involved in the activities of a regional safety organization can be a most rewarding experience. It encourages benchmarking and networking between peers and provides the opportunity to meet others from different cultures and backgrounds. The extreme value of benchmarking and networking by parties operating similar ground support equipment and aircraft can never be overstated. As with any organization, its success depends entirely on the efforts made by its members, and it is important to ensure that the work involved is spread across the entire membership.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Australasian Aviation Ground Safety Council (AAGSC), a non-profit organisation working for ground safety in aviation within the region. The Council has...