Wrath Visited On Those Down Under

The guys on the ramp (pilots do not say tarmac) are the unsung and often unseen hard working types that load all of the luggage by hand into the cargo bins. They also guide the airplane in for parking, drive the push-back tug, and take care of hooking up and disconnecting the “Ground Power and Ground Air”.

A little explanation is in order. The airplane is capable of being self sufficient as to electrical power and air-conditioning. This power and air is provided by a little jet engine mounted in the tail called an Auxiliary Power Unit ( APU ). The little APU is very capable but it burns a fairly large amount of fuel. Since the airlines get electricity for free for some reason it makes more economic sense to provide power and air-conditioning to the airplane from the building, than it does to use the APU. This program should save about three thousand hundred trillion dollars a day or something.

Since many of our electrical components and computers are a little fussy about power surges and interruptions it is important that the change over from ground power to ships power be coordinated to some degree. This is accomplished through a combination of Plains Indian sign language and banging on the side of the airplane.

So here we all were  ready to get started with the third leg of the day, somebody in every seat, two cockpit observers along with us in the cockpit, and the agent was just handing us the final load sheet so we could enter the takeoff data in the computer.

CLICK. …the  airplane went dark, multiple warnings, click and chirp, no power, navigation system warnings, emergency exit lighting activated.

The first response is to initiate the start sequence for the APU, this takes about two minutes.

My second response (and one nobody expected) was to yank the cockpit window open lean out over the side of the plane and yell HeeeYaaaEeee. I asked the cockpit observers if they had any fruit I could throw at the guys down there. What? Yea, an orange or something just to get their attention. Nobody admitted to having any good ammo for a food fight so I yelled again, “TURN ON THE POWER” . Finally one of the guys appeared from under the airplane holding the airplane end of the umbilical cord in his hand. WHAT are You DOING?  Were ANY of your Mothers Children born with Brains?     

       wha?  (nobody looks smart looking up from 20 feet down)

I’ve got a hundred and forty two people sitting up here in the dark because you are an idiot. Why did you do that? Is that part of your training? Is that in your manual?

By now the rest of the cockpit system warnings were beeping and complaining telling us that e v e r y t h i n g would have to be reprogrammed for departure. “She said you were ready to go”, which would have meant that we were all boarded up, what she (the operations agent in the jetway) meant to indicate to him was that it was time to stop playing frisbee and talk to the pilots.

I wasn’t very nice but I didn’t scream anything obscene or especially demeaning since the airplane is really quiet with no fans or equipment running. All of the passengers could hear clearly and were listening since they didn’t have anything else to do.

 Any more time with the emergency lighting system activated and we would been delayed up to an hour while it recharged.

“You get that power hooked back up right now or I’m coming out of this window after you.” So they hooked it up. We got everything re-programmed, re-set and re-entered, It took about ten minutes. When we were finally ready to go they went and got a different crew to push the airplane back so they wouldn’t have to talk to the wild man hanging out of the window anymore.

Idiots, and cowards too. But still valued, hardworking, recognized co-workers.  I’ll see them again next week.

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5 Responses to “Wrath Visited On Those Down Under”

  1. I can very much relate to this story. All of my mama’s babies were born with no brains.

  2. They grew in nicely though.

  3. I was a ramper for QX in SEA when I was in college and I can attest that many of my coworkers weren’t the brightest folks. But what do you expect for $9.00 an hour.

    However, the pilots could be major, egotistical pricks (even though they only flew Dash 8’s and made $9.50 an hour).

  4. luckyjet1 Says:

    Of the total jerks I have known (and a total jerk is a rare thing in nature) the majority have been pilots. It would be difficult to find a profession with a higher per-capita ratio of dickdom. A bigger airplane or paycheck doesn’t seem to make it much better.

    I have also generally found rampers to be a hard working bunch doing a difficult and dangerous job pretty well for not a lot of money.

    That’s what made these guys stand out, the emphasis on frisbee instead of if the APU was running… their half assed attitude and my (probably inappropriate) response are what compelled me to write about it in the first place.

  5. very very good

    a) I have worked both sides of the job

    b) The guys on the ground tend to be better company

    I will link from http://www.adamwebster.com when I can find relevant trash talking rant about the lunacy of corporate aviation!

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