Forming the Committees that Create Industry Standards

Oct. 20, 2022
Although industry groups have evolved through the years, the dedication to make GSE and ground handling operations safer remains the same.
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A significant objective of Ground Support Worldwide throughout the last 30 years has been to bring key stakeholders within the ground handling community together.

As part of that mission, I took the opportunity to attend a recent meeting of the SAE AGE-3 Aircraft Ground Support Equipment committee to learn more about the group.

Like the publication’s previous editors, we have an article lined up for the December/January issue intended to get the word out about the work being done by the AGE-3 committee to bring people from the GSE, airline and airframe sectors together to collaborate on industry standards aimed at making ground handling safer. Stay tuned for more on that.

But while attending the latest SAE AGE-3 committee meeting, I got the opportunity to chat with AGE-3 committee chairman Scott Barninger, director of GSE at Piedmont Airlines, to better understand how the committee dedicated to GSE standards came to be in its current state.

SAE International, which was founded in the early 20th century, is a professional standards organization for engineering professionals in various industries. SAE develops and publishes technical standards based on best practices identified and described by SAE technical committees across various industries, including aerospace.

“What we produce are called voluntary standards. They don’t carry the force of law,” Barninger says. “The way these standards get enforced is I, as a consumer – an airline user, tell you, the manufacturer of GSE that I want to buy your stuff, but you have to conform to SAE.

“OEM manufacturers typically look to the SAE specs when designing their products because people want to know that they’re compliant,” he adds.

Previously, standards for ground support equipment were addressed by the AGE-2C Vehicle Maintenance and Aircraft Servicing Committee. That group was a subcommittee of the AGE-2 Air Cargo and Aircraft Ground Equipment and Systems Committee

“Once upon a time, there was a committee – AGE-2,” Barninger says. “And it had two subcommittees – 2A, which was cargo and 2C, which was GSE.”

Because of the specific nature of the GSE standards, Barninger explains the subcommittee sought approval from SAE to form a separate committee. This allowed the GSE committee to ballot documents independently.

The AGE-2C subcommittee became the AGE-3 Airport Ground Support Equipment committee and the AGE-2A cargo portion became the AGE-2 Air Cargo committee.

“We’re basically AGE-2C related and elevated from a subcommittee status to a full committee status,” Barninger says. “In other words, our ballots go straight to Aerospace Council now. Whereas, before they had to go through AGE-2 ballot and then to Aerospace Council.”

The GSE standards group further evolved when the Aircraft Ground Deicing Steering Group split away from AGE-2C to form its own specific committee known as G12.

“When it became apparent that deicing was this hugely complex subject with lots of sub-ramifications, they became G12,” Barninger says.

As mentioned, a more detailed article about AGE-3 is slated for our final issue of the year. But in the meantime, if you’d like to learn more about the group’s objectives and how to get involved, visit the SAE’s website to contact the committee.

“If you have an interest in this industry, we look for members – not just from the engineering community, designing and building the equipment – but from the airline community, the people using the equipment and from the airframe OEMs because the equipment is being designed to work on them,” Barninger says. “The more we can get from that mix of people, the better the standards are going to be.

“So anybody involved in any one of those categories and has an interest in working on standards, I would encourage them to contact us.”