Safety Downunder

April 1, 2003

Steve Bowman reports from Brisbane, Australia on the recent AAGSC Meeting and ARTEX Safety Conference.

April 2003

Tropical days and a full conference program over three days were always going to pull a good crowd. Thirty-eight international delegates were joined by a contingent of 39 Australian safety professionals for the Australasia Aviation Ground Safety Council [AAGSC] meeting and the ARTEX conference in February. Attendees included Norm Hogwood and Mick Paice, both of whom have held office as chair of ARTEX in their professional roles with Air New Zealand and British Airways.

Aviation Ground Safety Downunder was officially opened by Tom Barton, Minister for State Development in the Queensland Government. In welcoming delegates, he spoke of the commitment of Queensland to draw new aviation and aerospace industry. Almost 4,000 jobs have been attracted in the last few years with Virgin Blue making Brisbane its Australian hub, Boeing's Australian headquarters, and Singapore Airlines new Flying College near the Sunshine Coast.

Risk Management and Assessment techniques emerged as a main theme. Bob Dodd, Manager Safety Strategy and Analysis at Qantas, presented a Risk Management workshop on Qantas' comprehensive system and highlighted the need to have everyone involved in the risk assessment process. This idea was reinforced in a presentation by National Safety Council of Australia's Julia Smith, a specialist in chemical risk assessment. Serious work is being done in Australia with the Air Force and contract maintenance operators to identify and track chemical risks to health over time.

Making the ramp a safer and healthier workplace is a core mission for ARTEX and several speakers presented updates on the new handling technologies.

Norm Hogwood showed technical drawings for a luggage basket system being developed in Scandinavia and had updates on prototypes and modifications to the Rampsnake and sliding carpets systems. Telair, a conference trade show sponsor, provided video footage of prototypes that are being tested.

Cam Spencer, from the host port of Brisbane, took delegates through some of the issues involved in handling the Airbus A380. With Qantas, Singapore, and Emirates - all firm Airbus customers - Australia will have to make the infrastructure changes by 2006 when Qantas takes delivery of the first of 13 ordered of these first generation, double-storey aircraft. The investment in handling equipment will be huge as will the task of training crews who will have to refuel, cater, clean, and attend to the enormous freight handling logistics.

ARTEX General Chairman Terri Weiland - Mid West Airlines summarised, "This conference has been a great success - well attended and the sessions very precise in the focus on the ARTEX mission of bringing together from all over the world, safety professionals to discuss and exchange best practises related to the prevention of injury and property damage, as well as education, engineering and enforcement in aviation ground safety."

ARTEX is an international forum devoted to aviation ground safety issues. The organisation is a section of the National Safety Council of America, The name is a derivative of two roots. ART is the Councils three letter code for ground safety, EX is the abbreviation of executive committee. Founded in 1927, the organisation is made up of representatives of airlines, airports, manufacturers, safety associations, fuel suppliers, handling companies, regulators and consultants - all with a common role as safety professionals.