“This is something we’ve wanted to do for years and now it’s done!”, enthused Amancio Fernández, Iberia’s Ramp Operations Manager at Madrid-Barajas Airport. “It wasn’t easy, but at last we can show off our new ramp training centres”, echoed his opposite number at Bacelona-El Prat, Alberto Díaz. As we witness the first training exercise, Amancio and Alberto direct the first cargo loading and unloading activities with the ground equipment and containers that are customarily used for real operations. “All that’s lacking is an airplane,” Amancio said.”

At the Madrid-Barajas training centre, a section of an A330 (registered as EC-FDB) is used, and in Barcelona custom-designed model built by the Comanche company does the job Both stand at the actual height of a real aircraft, and allow trainees to practise loading in number 5 and aft cargo holds.

The models are a response to a request from our ramp crews in a recent survey of the working climate. They said it made sense to practise on dummies before performing the tasks on actual aircraft.

“It’s not easy to operate ground equipment, like platforms and conveyor belts,” explained Óscar Rojano, a ramp supervisor and training coach: “Being new and working on a real airplane can be very stressful. Using this model is going to help a lot in training our new staff.”

Jorge Sanz Calderón, Operational Safety specialist at Madrid-Barajas, agrees. “Using the model as our training centre allows our trainees to practise again and again until they feel confident about positioning the equipment. Meanwhile we can teach them the best practices and explain the different procedures, such as  safety stops and equipment guidance”. His opposite number in Barcelona, Rosa Baños, said the opportunity to practise afforded by the dummy aircraft section “completes the training that begins with theory and ends with the practical, always under the watchful eye of a monitor”.

The Iberia departments that worked together to develop the training scheme in Madrid were Madrid-Barajas, Fleet Planning and Management, and Technical, with the cooperation of AENA, Spain’s airport and air traffic authority. In Barcelona the task fell to Ramp Operations Management and its safety team. Daniel Durán-Cantero, Operations Control and Optimisation Manager at Madrid-Barajas underlines the “the cooperation of the Technical and Fleet Planning departments was vital”..

The initiative comes within the framework of the overall plan to improve training as a way of maximising airport safety, while ensuring our clients of the highest service quality, and making the workplace safer for all.