While passengers are aware that airlines fly to destinations they need to travel to, whether for business or pleasure, or for relative reasons, they may not know that some are only served by freight flights; code sharing services in which another airline operates the aircraft; or charter arrangements that allow airlines to expand their home only in travel agencies ’cities and reservations, especially during seasonal needs.
Acting as supervisor and trainer, the author experienced one such charter flight – Austrian Airlines in Cancun, Mexico – at the start of its 2006-2007 winter schedule. The inaugural flight of the season was spotted.
1. Mexican Civil Aviation Regulations
Austrian Airlines operated from Passenger Management / Mac in Cancun. Under Mexican civil aviation regulations, all land-use companies were required to comply with the three regulations.
They first had to submit a letter to the manager confirming that the land company concerned was properly trained in the areas of flight plan coordination, weight and balance, ramp procedures, refueling procedures and passenger services. The letter should also indicate the names of the staff actually trained in these areas.
Second, they were required to have copies of the appropriate aircraft manual (s). In the case of a flight from Cancun, it was the one related to the Boeing 767.
And finally, they had to submit a plan for a manual check-in, with the required seat plates, boarding and other supplies.
2. Training for land operations
To meet the training requirement, the author reviewed the Cancun station operating plan, including passenger check-in procedures and centralized cargo control (CLC), with the handling company on-call manager shortly after arriving in Mexico, and delivered two trainings the following day with his staff .
The first, 2.5-hour Austrian Airlines freight training course included an overview of Centralized Load Control (CLC) procedures, load plans, creation of an inbound load plan based on today's actual container / pallet distribution message (CPM), and joint filling in an example of a manual load, copies of which were put on file at the Cancun station.
During the second session, which took place after the flight took off, the author revisited the CLC procedures with three staff members who were unable to attend morning classes.
3. Check-in of passengers
Passenger check-in and boarding came at Terminal 1. The small passenger services office, located behind the check-in counter of Mecicana de Aviacion, was located in the Vuelos Nacionales section (Domestic Flights) at Terminal 2, while the Operations Office was located behind the security checkpoints and at the terminal ramp 2. A free launching shuttle periodically connected the two buildings from certain exit points of the far front. Terminal 3, scheduled for international flights, was scheduled to be completed in March 2007 at that time.
Passenger Handling Services / Macs The position of flight manager at Cancun, a licensed aircraft dispatcher, spent 15 years in the airline / aerospace industry and took pride in compliance.
Passenger check-in was located at the recently opened but reduced Terminal 1 damaged by the hurricane, which was then occupied only by charter carriers such as Miami Air, First Choice, Air Transat and Corsairfli.
The passenger check-in itself began three hours before the scheduled take-off flight of 1640 at counters just a few feet from the entrance to the terminal. All passengers, in accordance with Mexican security regulations, had to manually check their luggage before actually checking in.
Five check-in points were used: one for the Amadeus (business) class and four for the economy cabin. The passenger service supervisor and business class check-in agent spoke Spanish, English and German, and the seat selection provided by the MaestroDCS system, along with all authorized upgrades, was coordinated with a representative of the Tui Tour, whose company was chartering the flight.
The application itself was made by the MaestroDCS system. During the process, the passenger requested a wheelchair and he was immediately equipped.
4. Boeing 767
The Cancun flight was operated by the Boeing 767-300 extended-range version, the second of two stretched hulls, larger capacity variants, whose general design features included the following.
General Description: A twin-engine, cantilever, low-wing monoplane aircraft of semi-monocoque construction intended for commercial passenger and cargo and military applications.
Fuselage: Aluminum alloy, safe construction.
Wings: They use advanced aluminum alloy skins and have 31 degrees of flare and six degrees of installation.
Tail: A common cloak with swept surfaces on its horizontal and vertical tails.
Landing Driving: A three-wheeled hydraulic motor chassis with Menasco two-wheeler, which pulled forward, and two, four-wheel, Cleveland Pneumatic main gears, which pulled inwards. Both were fitted with Honeivell wheels and brakes.
Engines: Two aerodynamic underwater turbo fans with high transient range, mounted on the lower edge of the wing edge.
Design Characteristics: Replacing the 727 with a larger capacity, wide design, it is nevertheless optimized for the 727 type of route sectors with transcontinental range capability in one place. During the initial phase of development, it used computer software (CAD), the cost of which was reduced due to parallel 757 developments. Although not considered a single-pass aircraft, it introduced a narrower trunk section than that used by previous wide-hull types, which brought several advantages, including reduced parasite drag; a two-aisle cabin, in which passengers have never been more than one seat through a window or passage; gate and ramp compatibility at smaller airports similar to 727; and advanced light alloy flying surfaces, especially fixed-wing edge panels, spoilers, rugs, fixed-wing rear edge panels, chassis doors, lifts and rudders.
Additional benefits are gained by using a supercritical wing, such as a high aspect ratio, a wing-laden cross section, the development of greater lift for less traction than any previous wing, 22% greater thickness than that used in the previous decade, aircraft, lighter and simpler construction, and greater tank capacity for fuel.
Powered by two high-volume turbo fans, it was able to offer higher thrust, lower specific fuel consumption, reduced noise footprint, lower maintenance costs and improved reliability.
Like the 757 then designed at the same time, it was operated by a double cockpit crew.
By using a previously dry central fuel tank, Boeing was able to offer an extended-range version requiring several other modifications, yet inherent hull extensibility, greater existing wing and tail capabilities, its usual 757 pilot rating and its dual-certification the extended-range engine allowed carriers to replace it with DC-10 and L-1011 aircraft.
It offered optimum reach and capacity for Austrian Airlines transatlantic charters to and from Mexico.
It is powered by two 60,900 Pt Pratt and Vhitnei 4060 high-volume turbo fans, the OE-LAKS-registered airplane operated for the first time, delivered in 1992, with serial number 27095. It housed 30 passengers from Amadeus business class six-to-two, two-two-two, configuration and 200 economy in a seven-seat arrangement with one additional seat in a medium-sized bank, had the following maximum weights: 130,634 kilograms without fuel, landing 145,149 kilograms, take-off of 186,880 pounds and a ramp of 187,333 pounds.
While operating OS 9573 aircraft from Vienna, Austria and Varadero, Cuba, the aircraft landed in 1515 and was taxed at parking spot 1, which was not equipped with a jet bridge, as intended, in 1520. The safety cones were properly anchored. The stairway truck was immediately mounted on the L2 door and, in accordance with Mexican regulations, moved into that position. The passengers disembarked after a brief consultation with the chef (Caf de Cabine).
According to the Input Container / Pallet Distribution Message (CPM), the following Cancun unit loading devices (ULDs) were on board: empty DPE in 11L position, Luggage AKEs in 22L, 23L and 24L positions and empty DKF in position 43. With the exception of the latter, they were all housed in the front posture and were containers of one or half width. The latter, in the latter position, is double, or full width.
6. Departure gate
All five departure gates were right next to the escalator, through the security checkpoint, and within walking distance. Two snack bars and two shops featured passenger amenities at the terminal.
Due to the proximity of the aircraft parking area, buses or mobile lounges were not required and access ramps ran from take-off level to ramp.
Sequential boarding, operating as OS 9574, began in 1545 with announcements in English and German and meant pre-boarding passengers, followed by those in the Amadeus business and economy class, last in ordinal numbers, starting at the back of the aircraft.
Boarding controls were computerized, with seat numbers entered into the system. After the last passenger had passed through the gate in 1612, the cabin crew presented a general declaration and all required lists. As the Varadero station changed places, the message regarding the occupancy of the seat (or SOM) of passengers traveling to Vienna was not entirely accurate and resulted in several disagreements, but this was quickly remedied by local ground officials.
7. Centralized load control
In accordance with the Centralized Flight Control Procedure for the charter flight, the cockpit crew sent the final fuel data to Vienna using the Aircraft Communication and Reporting System (ACARs), while the local operations staff completed and faxed a pre-printed sheet with a passenger divided by class and zone, along with the number of bags and their weight, all provided by the MaestroDCS check-in system and telexed to the Terminal 2 office. Spare sheets were available in the event of last-minute changes (LMC) or qua a ACAR-a.
Although initial difficulties with the fax machine delayed the sending of information to Vienna on the day of my visit, missing athletic paths in the meteorology map caused a short, 15-minute delay in departure.
All members of the Cancun ground operations were professional, dedicated and motivated and clearly possessed extensive knowledge and experience. Because the handling company’s office had to be moved from Terminal 1 to its then Terminal 2, due to hurricane damage, the logistical challenge could only be brought along with ramp transport, but the operation was otherwise well orchestrated. The Mac's duty manager was a great asset to the station and his team, and using German at the check-in counter was a plus for Austrian Airlines passengers.
His charter flight operation in Cancun could not have been more smoothly executed that day.