Ramp Resource Management (RRM) training is team-related training to make effective use of all available resources – people, equipment and information – to optimise personal and flight safety, and the efficiency of the aircraft turnaround.
RRM can be seen as a subpart of the general human factors-domain. Since the concept of Crew Resource Management (CRM) was first used in the late 1970’s, it has developed significantly. From initially focusing on communication and attitudes in a classroom-based learning environment, CRM today is an integrated part of safety management in aviation, shipping and the Oil & Gas Industry. There is also a growing understanding of the requirement for organisational support (e.g. investments in training, safety culture improvements) in order to make CRM an efficient safety tool in daily operations and there is a clear tendency in the development of CRM towards training of specific behaviours. The Threat and Error Management (TEM) approach to CRM is in line with this development.
RRM extends the CRM principles to the ground handling environment and these principles provide the contents for the RRM training syllabus developed by the European Commercial Aviation Safety Team (ECAST) Ground Safety Working Group (GSWG). Whereas CRM training mostly addresses teams of 2 or 3 members, RRM training also addresses larger teams, similar as Team Resource Management (TRM) training provided to air traffic controllers in the Air Traffic Management domain.
The RRM training syllabus aims to provide best practices in conducting team-related training to improve safety, communication, effectiveness and efficiency in aircraft ground handling. The production of the RRM syllabus is the end of a cycle that started with studying the subject of ‘Aircraft ground handling and human factors’ on behalf of the ECAST GSWG.
The RRM training syllabus has been developed for airports and Ground Service Providers (GSP), primarily to be used in training for ramp personnel involved in aircraft handling, including supervisors. After initial implementation of RRM training, the target group may be extended to include planners, managers, etc. in order to increase their awareness of the influence of their decisions on the actual aircraft handling during the turnaround.
The purpose of RRM training is to:
- Decrease the number of incidents of aircraft/equipment damage and personal injuries;
- Increase awareness and recognition of human factors and their effect on the aircraft turnaround;
- Improve safety barriers against human error;
- Decrease operational disruptions;
- Increase efficiency;
- Increase individuals’ awareness of being part of a larger and more efficient team.
The ultimate goal of RRM is to prevent accidents through reduction of errors during the aircraft turnaround process and management of the effects of errors that still occur.
The desired result of the RRM training for each individual ramp worker is to:
- Create awareness that they are a link in the chain of the turnaround process and that each link is equally important;
- Create awareness of team dynamics and provide tools that improve team performance;
- Change attitudes and behaviour towards safe operations at the ramp;
- Create awareness about typical threats and errors in the turnaround process and provide tools on how to manage them (TEM).
To make RRM training highly relevant for the target group, it has to be fully understood what the characteristics of the target group are, what end results have to be acquired and what potential constraints may exist for the target group to learn.
The target group for RRM training is ramp personnel, consisting of permanent and temporary employees, supervisors and team leaders. After a first phase of training, this target group may be extended to e.g. planners and managers. This does not mean that the content of the training has to be adjusted or extended, but that the dynamics of the training change (since managers are also present) and this has to be taken into account by the instructor.
In general, the target group of ramp personnel has the following characteristics:
- Basic education;
- Trained on technical skills;
- Relative high turnover;
- Mixture of permanent and temporary staff;
- Male dominated workforce;
- Possibly External Locus of Control: ‘managers just tell us what to do and we have no influence in what happens or is decided.’
Previous studies performed in the area of ramp handling reveal that the target group considers personal factors (time pressure, stress, fatigue, peer pressure and motivation) and communication important factors in accident and incident causation during the aircraft turnaround. To address these issues in such a way that GSP and individual workers gain the maximum benefit, the syllabus has been designed in modules; each module covering a different subject:
- Module 1: Turnaround process
- Turnaround processes
- Type and role of actors
- Risk awareness
- Pressures on the process
- Module 2: Safety regulations
- Ground Service Providers
- Module 3: Teamwork
- Team Dynamics
- Cultural, ethnic and educational difference
- Team situational awareness
- Module 4: Threat and Error Management
- Threat identification
- Threat management
- Error management
- Module 5: Human performance and limitations
- Time pressure
- Alcohol, medicines and drugs
The modules can be used separately. However, because all subjects are related and sometimes overlap it is recommended to use the syllabus completely. Also, RRM training aims at providing trainees with insight and changing attitudes towards safety. It is very difficult to achieve this through, for example, a one-hour course. Therefore it is recommended to provide at least four-hours training, which is the designed duration of the RRM syllabus. Of course, content can be changed or added where local situations require this.
The RRM training syllabus provides guidance material only and can be adapted to the users’ needs, dependent on the organisation’s size, needs, local circumstances and resources available. To make the RRM training accessible and comprehensible to all personnel, the training contents should be translated to the local language. Following the introduction of the concept of RRM training, the following prerequisites were indicated by GSP. The RRM training has to be:
- Closely related to the operational environment;
- As much as possible integrated in current (human factors) training;
- Scheduled outside peak hours;
- Highly practical and realistic.
Since various organisations and different professions are involved in the aircraft turnaround process, RRM training should ideally be provided by airports as part of their Safety Management System (SMS) activities, as prescribed in ICAO Annex 14, or to fulfil proposed amendments. GSP’s, in turn, may provide additional RRM training which addresses the particulars of the GSP’s organisation and procedures. Other options include that RRM training is provided by airlines that operate a ground services department, by organisations involved in cargo handling, aircraft catering or cleaning, or by other independent organisations with the required instructor skills and expertise, like aviation training providers, safety institutes or consulting agencies.
RRM training should be provided when ramp workers apply for an airside badge, and is preferably given after the basic airside safety training has been completed. Recurrent training may be provided at badge renewal or at shorter time intervals when deemed appropriate or necessary by the organisations involved.
A training course is only as good as its instructor or facilitator. The selection of the right instructor is paramount to the success of the course. Some background in team training, (safety) culture, psychology and/or human factors is recommended. However, the most important instructor attributes are motivation to deliver the course and a belief in the benefits of the content.
RRM training is a useful tool to improve ground handling safety. However, it is only one of many tools required in a safety management system. All these tools should be used to make a positive impact on safety.