GlobeGround driver hits, damages and grounds Gulf Air Airbus A320 at Bangalore – Update 1

Bahrain based Gulf Air had suspended it’s Bahrain Bangalore service in March this year. It resumed the service recently on October 24, and the resumption reached an unhappy situation last night.

A driver of Gulf Air’s ground handling agent GlobeGround India drove his step-ladder in to the rear horizontal stabiliser of their Airbus A320-212 registration A9C-EN, damaging and grounding the aircraft.

Engineers are expected to fly in tonight and examine the aircraft and try to effect needed repairs. While the extent of the damage is not known, the damage is serious enough to merit involvement of the insurance carrier of Gulf Air. The aircraft is expected to be AOG (aircraft on ground) for three days.

This is the second instance of a GlobeGround driver hitting and damaging equipment at Bengaluru International Airport. Last season a driver forgot to lower his equipment adequately and hit and damaged the passenger aero bridge at stand 12.

A call to the senior management of GlobeGround resulted in a very simple statement

“we are investigating the incident and cannot comment at this time.”

Bangalore Aviation has not received any other response from GlobeGround almost eight hours after our call.

It is not the habit of Bangalore Aviation to speculate, but in absence of any information forthcoming from GlobeGround India, we have to rely on other sources who indicate that the driver did not appear to intoxicated, but was extremely tired. He apparently started moving his ladder in to position even before the aircraft engines were switched off, and did not respond to warnings from his colleagues. A momentary lapse of concentration which has produced terrible results.

Tiredness and lack of adequate rest had reared its head after the Colgin crash. We are not casting aspersions on anybody, especially GlobeGround, but given the slowdown in global air traffic and their resultant cutbacks, one has to ponder if organisations who perform sensitive and potentially dangerous tasks, should not increase their efforts to create a culture of responsibility. One which would have encouraged the driver to report to his bosses that he was simply too tired to perform this simple yet highly demanding task.

Update 1 – November 23

After further investigation it was confirmed that the driver fell asleep while the aircraft was taxiing in to the gate. The vehicle mounted staircase rolled forward and has hit and damaged the leading edge of the left rear horizontal stabiliser.

Engineers from Airbus came to Bangalore and have verified the damage. It appears the entire leading edge will have to be replaced. Unfortunately for Gulf Air, the parts are not available at their Singapore warehouse and therefore have to come from Toulouse.

A nose loading aircraft like the Boeing 747F or Airbus A300-600ST Beluga may have to be used. If it comes on the Beluga, the spotters in Bangalore while commiserating with Gulf Air will let out a big cheer.

This is the third incident involving Globeground. In another incident a Globeground driver fell asleep and smashed in to another airport vehicle.

About Devesh Agarwal

A electronics and automotive product management, marketing and branding expert, he was awarded a silver medal at the Lockheed Martin innovation competition 2010. He is ranked 6th on Mashable's list of aviation pros on Twitter and in addition to Bangalore Aviation, he has contributed to leading publications like Aviation Week, Conde Nast Traveller India, The Economic Times, and The Mint (a Wall Street Journal content partner). He remains a frequent flier and shares the good, the bad, and the ugly about the Indian aviation industry without fear or favour.

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