The Need for SAE

Why SAE International AGE-2 Air Cargo and Aircraft Ground Equipment and Systems committees at all — an AGEd dinosaur or a valuable contributor to the aviation industry?

Many would have been absorbed into the remaining technical or management functions of the airline. Some would have been employed by the new functionaries, but often due to their “back-room boy” nature and status (a lot of experience and very little in the way of formal qualifications, the means by which the new functionaries would assess ability), they would have been shunted off into the type of position with little say over strategy and specifications. By being out of the airline and in the background, opportunities to meet with colleagues and discuss technical issues became limited or nil. In addition, they haven’t been given the opportunity to pass on their skills and knowledge to future generations since the importance of their functions has become diluted or lost. The result is a dearth of technically orientated representation from airport authorities, ground handlers and ramp handlers, as well as lack of the appropriate skills in a lot of the airlines.

Looking at the airports, ground and ramp handlers, it is apparent that these companies haven’t yet realized that there are forums at which they can address problems they have with equipment, layout, process flows and procedures. It is likely they are talking to the airlines, but I am not sure they are speaking to the correct people at the airlines, or even if the correct people are still there. The law-making and regulatory authorities have also become increasingly remote from their actual reason for existence, security issues continually testing the bounds of practicality and cost effectiveness of air travel.

Industry Expertise, a Challenge
AGE-2 is itself not immune from these developments as we have seen some old hands retire without a commensurate influx of new members. We are, however, fortunate to be able to attract and retain quite a number of “old masters” who are ideally placed to pass on their expertise.

It is in this set of circumstances that the AGE-2 set of subcommittees has a vital role to play in the future. The challenge facing AGE-2 is how to attract, develop and retain the necessary level of expertise in at least one place for the benefit of the industry. By promoting what it is we do beyond the narrow scope of the airlines and manufacturers, we can involve the new role-players and functionaries. We can pass on our skills and knowledge to the new generation. Also, we can learn from this new audience, making our work more pertinent and relevant in today’s dynamic aviation world by addressing the challenges presented not only by the airlines and manufacturers, as in the past, but also those of the broader customer and user base of today and the future.

The AGE-2 committee and subcommittees have a proud history which lends credence and authority to the work produced. By bringing on board the “new” users and customers — the ULD pooling companies, the airport and air-cargo warehousing consulting companies, the airport authorities themselves, the likes of FAA and EASA as well as IATA — we enhance our ability to provide top quality, practical and relevant sets of standards and practices to benefit the aviation industry globally.

The next meeting of the SAE International AGE-2 committees is scheduled for Oct. 20-22, 2008 in Indianapolis, Ind.

For more information on this upcoming meeting or the AGE-2 committees, please contact Maureen Lemankiewicz at or by calling directly (724) 772-7147.

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