What it’s like to be an Air Hub Specialist (Tech Ramp) at SATS
As passengers, we often only see a small glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes at the airport. But little do we know, there are thousands of dedicated employees working tirelessly to ensure each aircraft arrives and departs safely at Changi Airport.
Among them is Kevin, a Tech Ramp Serviceman (Air Hub Specialist) in the Tech Ramp Department at SATS.
Kevin Jay Abagat, Tech Ramp Serviceman
Kevin’s journey in aviation began over a decade ago. With a deep enthusiasm for aeroplanes and a degree in Aerospace Engineering, he joined SATS in 2014 after gaining valuable experience at a smaller international airport.
Even with more than ten years of experience, Kevin admits that he still feels a touch of anxiety at times, knowing that his job directly impacts the safety of passengers and the flight crew.
The headset man’s crucial role
One of the most critical (and perhaps the most known) responsibilities of a Tech Ramp Serviceman (Tech RSM) is serving as the headset man. You might even see them at the airside either holding marshalling wands or wearing a headset while walking to the taxiway with the aircraft in tow.
For Kevin, it’s a role that requires immense responsibility and attention to detail. “Great responsibility lies on your shoulder from arrival to departure,” Kevin shares. This is because the headset man serves as the crucial point of communication with the pilots, relaying vital information about ground conditions and ensuring smooth and safe operations.
At times, the headset man uses marshalling wands to guide pilots to the parking area, although most often than not, they just make use of the Aircraft Docking Guidance System (ADGS) which is an automated way of guiding aircraft for parking.
Being the headset man is just one of several responsibilities held by the tech ramp department. From the moment a plane arrives to the time it departs, the tech ramp servicemen will be there.
At the request of the airline, the Tech RSM will provide alternate power sources while the plane goes for ground servicing. Oftentimes, the assisting Tech RSM helps connect the Ground Power and Air Starter Units.
Water and lavatory servicing are also part of a Tech RSM’s responsibilities. While these are quick tasks, they are crucial in making sure the aircraft has enough water supply and the waste tank is functional for passengers on the next flights.
The job does not end there. When it’s time for the plane to depart, meaning cargo has been loaded and passengers have boarded, the tech ramp department takes charge of the aircraft pushback process. They need to push the plane to the taxiway in preparation for departure.
Tech Ramp Servicemen conducting aircraft pushback
Typically, the pushback is carried out by at least three tech ramp servicemen: the headset man, the tow tug driver, and assisting RSM. The headset man takes the lead in coordinating with the pilots in releasing and applying the brakes, informing the tow tug driver to start and stop the pushback.
Once the pushback is completed, the headset man removes the bypass pin, bids the pilots a safe journey, and returns to their post.
Guardians of airside safety
What the Tech Ramp Department does is far from easy. Their responsibilities begin as soon as the plane arrives and continue until it departs at Changi Airport. They are guardians of airside safety, keeping the passengers, flight crew, the aircraft, and themselves safe. This is why being alert is a prerequisite for a Tech RSM. “You must be alert at all times because there’ll be a lot of things going on in the airside,” Kevin explains.
Aircraft undergoing servicing by ramp agents
Kevin takes safety seriously and ensures that he follows all the necessary steps in doing his job. For example, he always makes sure to remove any foreign object debris at the parking bay before the plane arrives. This is crucial because such debris can cause damage to the plane. He also inspects the aircraft thoroughly to identify any damage that could impact its next flights.
While he carries out his duties at the airside, Kevin is mindful of his own safety as well. He wears safety shoes, a reflective vest, and earplugs. He also keeps a raincoat handy in case of inclement weather.
Almost a decade of working alongside the Tech Ramp Department made Kevin feel more comfortable about his role. It helped that he has colleagues and mentors within the team that always made working fun, safe, and fulfilling. “We come from diverse backgrounds, but we have the same goals at work,” he says with pride.
To Kevin, two objectives hold the utmost importance: ensuring everyone’s safety and ensuring that flights depart on time. When the team achieves these goals, they consider it a job well done.
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