Setting the Standards


Setting the Standards

George Prill reports on the first meeting of the SAE Aviation Ground Support Committees since 9/11

By Michelle Garetson/p>

By George Prill

June/July 2002

The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Aviation Ground Equipment experts in their Committee AGE-2 met in Monterey, California on April 15 -17, 2002. As the September 11 attack prompted SAE to cancel its 2001 meeting, it had been a year since the members had an opportunity to meet and review the state of the GSE world. To no one's surprise, a lot had changed.

As readers of GSE Today know all too well, the after shocks of September 11 have pounded airlines, ground handlers, and manufacturers of GSE. Attendance at the meeting was down and chairmanships were vacated. Sadly, the roll call included the names of members who died during the last year. Prominent among them was Andy Garcia, who was a passenger on UAL Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania. Also recognized were members Alan Brown, Terry Leonard, Dale Weiss and Ralph Cramer, ex-UAL and a long-time advocate for recognition of the importance of ground support.


Oscar Atienza

Boeing's Oscar Atienza - Vice Chairman.

Dick McLennan & Hans Van Rooijen

Chairman Dick McLennan, VP of SATCO (right) with Vice Chairman Hans Van Rooijen of KLM.

The Committee's leadership, Chair Dick McLennan from SATCO, Vice Chair Hans Van Rooijen from KLM, Oscar Atienza from Boeing and Vic Urzi from SAGE recognize the need to recruit new members and to do a better job of informing the industry of the importance of the work of the SAE to the ground support community. Working on Standards and serving on Committees will always seem less important than the immediate job at home, but the decisions made in those Committees may well affect your future.

The SAE Aviation Ground Support Committee certainly reflects the international approach that is needed for our industry. Membership is encouraged from countries other than the U.S. and the Committee has been fortunate in having officers from KLM and Airbus and very active representation from England, Japan, France, Germany, Scandinavia, and Canada. Both Boeing and Airbus recognize its importance and are well represented on all subjects.

One question frequently asked at GSE sessions is, "Do I qualify for membership/affiliation?"

Answer: If you have a degree in engineering, math, science or have another professional degree or if you are a professional working within the mobility field, then you qualify. Even if you don't have a college degree, you can become a member of SAE. Many members of the GSE committee are veterans of the manufacturing or shop floor, and are valued for their practical contributions.

A highlight of the meeting was a presentation by Nils Lache, the Department Manager of Cargo Systems for Airbus, covering the company's plans for the A-380 Freighter, which offers a payload of 150 metric tons, fuel for 8,000 n.m., freight on 3 decks, ULD's to 30 feet., and 4 ULDs at one time. New challenges, but Lache expressed confidence that the airlines will find that the negatives are more than overcome by the economics. In any event, it provides new business for GSE manufacturers.

Also presenting was Hector Plaza of Telair who gave the Cargo Subcommittee an update on the company's activities with hardened containers.

A growing number of projects require a reference to an approved quality control system. Traditionally, because of the long-standing relationship with the International Standards Organization (ISO), reference was made to the ISO 9000 Series. However, SAE has now adopted AS 9102, applicable to aerospace. AS 9102 is identical to the European EN 9102 and the Japanese JAS 9102. It has been formally approved by the FAA for use in Part 121 operation.


Mike Doane

Mike Doane from the UK-based Douglas Equipment Ltd. leads the discussion on towbarless tractors.

Vic Urzi

Vic Urzi of Sage Parts Plus steps in as Subcommittee Chairman.

The Cargo Subcommittee received a report from the NAS 3610 Oversight Panel. NAS 3610 is the long-standing (over 30 years) specification that lists the technical parameters for FAA airworthiness certification (TSO approval) of cargo unit load devices, (i.e. containers, pallets, and nets). The panel is working on an Aeronautical Standard that will serve the same purpose as NAS 3610 but will be much more user-friendly, more comprehensive, and can be updated in committee.

Briefly reviewing the 32 projects in work, the Sub-committee had a lengthy discussion on the subject of tie-down straps, and in particular about the Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) that one company has obtained from the FAA. The basis for this STC was a draft of the ISO strap-specification that had been circulated through the Committee. The "abuse" of this draft has intensified the copyright procedures within SAE. AGE-2A is still planning to address this issue with the FAA and eventually apply for a Technical Standard Order (TSO).

Jim Jackson, ex-AAL and a recognized expert, pointed out that it is vital that the work of SAE AGE-2 be well represented in the final preparatory stage of ISO / TC-20/SC-9, (Air Cargo and Ground Equipment). The U.S. has only one vote out of the 10 primary Member States presently on the Subcommittee and one vote out of the 21 on the full Committee. It is very important that knowledgeable AGE participants be available to ensure that the Subcommittee's understanding of the intentions of the AGE is effectively supported. Without that support, the globally-involved users and suppliers will live with what the international community establishes.

Due to career changes, both the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Subcommittee involved with traditional GSE vehicles and equipment resigned prior to the Monterey meeting. Vic Urzi, a long time supporter of the work of the Committee stepped in and chaired the event. A new Chairman will be elected at the next meeting, which would coincide with the normal election cycle.

This meeting of the Subcommittee was primarily used to reorganize the projects and reassign sponsors to review and/or complete documents 23 documents are up for the required 5-year review. This is an essential part of keeping Standards current.

In addition, 8 groups are working on new projects covering topics including Cabin Service Vehicles, Pre-conditioned Air Delivery Systems, GSE Airport Operations, Towbarless Tractors for Regional Aircraft, Alternating Current in Ramp Electrification, Fall Protection from Manned Aerial Lifts. Readers interested in these pieces of equipment should consider the need to take part in subsequent meetings.

The subject of aircraft ground deicing is handled by another SAE Committee G-12, a spin-off from the AGE-2 Committee. The possibility and desirability of bringing that subject back within AGE-2 was considered and will be reviewed further.

The next meeting of the Committee will be held on September 24-25, 2002 at the Key Bridge Marriott Hotel in Arlington, Virginia. For more information about projects or documents, please contact Rebecca Lemon at +724.772. 4083, or email