Australasian Aviation Ground Safety Council Incorporated – AAGSC (Inc) 2005-2006 Ground Safety Award

The Chairman of the AAGSC Inc, Mark Farrar recently announced Virgin Tech Pty Ltd as the winner of the Australasian Aviation Ground Safety Council Safety Award for 2005-2006.

Virgin Tech Pty Ltd of Melbourne won the award for designing a Hydraulic Brake Transporter/Lifer. GSE Coordinator Ian Scott and OH&S Coordinator Les Payne were the principle designers and implementers of the device.

In the early days of operations, Virgin Blue ground support stored and transported 180kg B737 brake assemblies on timber pallets using general automotive hoists and slings. When a brake change was required, the engineers would attach a sling to a brake assembly, lift it with the hoist then wheel it to the aircraft. During fitment to the aircraft, the suspended assembly was able to swing freely presenting a significant pinching and crushing hazard to hands and feet. In fact, records show an engineer had suffered a severe crush injury to his hand when he lost control of the assembly when aligning the brake to the main gear axle.

Ian and Les decided that a modified commercial pallet lifter might be suitable for the transportation of the brake assemblies from storage to the aircraft axle therefore removing the manual handling aspect completely.

A prototype of the Hydraulic Brake Transporter/Lifter was built and it was obvious they were on the right path to a solution. Additional minor modifications were made to minimise flexing when the brake assembly was in the elevated position. A second prototype was ordered from Richmond Wheel and Castor Pty Ltd (Melbourne) and when final adjustments were completed, six further Transporter/Lifters were purchased and distributed to the Virgin Blue Technical ports.

Mark Farrar praised the innovative efforts of Ian and Les in their approach to dealing with a recognised workplace hazard. The award will be presented at the AAGSC Annual General Meeting scheduled for November in Brisbane.