Have you ever watched an aircraft marshaller wave his arms around a ’plane and wondered what he was doing? Well, simply, he is communicating with the pilot to guide him to the correct space to park his aircraft. Using sign language, the marshaller is able to guide an aircraft away from other aircraft or ground obstacles to an assigned parking spot. Marshalling is also done when starting up and dispatching an aircraft. These fancy and somewhat weird signals give instructions for actions such as “Start engine(s)”, “Turn left”, “Turn right”, “Set brakes”, just to name a few. Both the pilot and the marshaller must know what the different signals are and what they mean in order to avoid any misunderstanding that may result in apron incidents or, as one pilot made a comment, “I didn’t quite understand what signal the Traffic Officer was using because it wasn’t a standard one”.
Beginning in Mt Hagen, the Ground Operations Dept has started carrying out supple-mentary aircraft marshalling training for Traffic Officers of the correct marshalling signals set out by ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation). This training is aimed at keeping marshallers well informed of the correct signals, especially when we are facing increasing overcrowding on the apron which also increases the chances of an incident as a result of wrong or incorrect use of a marshalling signal. It is planned for this training to be rolled out to other Bases where marshalling is needed. As part of this commitment, large posters with the ICAO marshalling signals are being supplied to all Bases to be readily available for staff to use as reference. Already the benefits of the training in the different actions and their corresponding marshalling signals is being appreciated by Traffic Officers in Mt Hagen, including those who know marshalling but have not done it for a long time.