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Chock

737-8 MAX pushback

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Here's me at work pushing an Icelandair Boeing 737-8 MAX (TF-ICU) out from Stand 23 at Manchester airport a couple of days ago. This was part of my certification I was doing over the past few days for pushback certification with Menzies Aviation. So I'm trying to do it as nicely and smoothly as possible.

On the video, you can see my work colleagues Jeff Pollitt and Jordan Rowland, doing the ramp stuff while I drive the tug. Jeff is a trainer who was overseeing my certification and Jordan is assisting and does the roadman duties. Since some of you will find it interesting to hear the radio stuff, I uploaded the video from just after I got in the tug to start it up so I could monitor the radio right after we'd finished loading the thing for a flight to Keflavik (the actual push starts about halfway through the video). The thing was due to go at this point, but the crew were probably going through their last few checks, however, since there is a possibility that we might be asked to do a non-standard pushback (these happen if ATC need the aeroplane pushed off to a different tug release point in order to make room for other aeroplanes), it's my job at that point to monitor the radio to see if this might be the case which is why I'm sat there whilst the other guys are doing all the work! As it turned out, it was a standard pushback. Standard pushback for jets off 23 is back onto taxiway LIMA, then swinging it around where LIMA turns to go past the Menzies crew room which is at the head of Stand 4, and Stand 4's centreline is where the Tug Release Point is for that particular pushback. 

You can see on the MAX, that since they had to extend the landing gear length a little bit to fit those new engines under the wings, that the socket for the headset and ground power is now mounted quite high off the ground and is a bit of a stretch to reach. For the curious, Jeff has just completed the walkaround check and checks that the crew are ready on power selection on the overhead to allow him to remove the ground power. Jordan turns off the power so there is no danger of a surge when removing the plug from the aeroplane, then Jeff pulls it out and chucks it under the towbar so Jordan can rack the cable and push the Fix Electrical Power (FEP) cart clear of the tug. Since the jet bridge is off, the two remaining chocks on the nosewheel can be removed.

When the crew have their clearance to push, which I hear on the radio will be a standard push, I toot the horn to let Jordan, who has taken the marshalling wands out to the rear of the stand, know that we'll be going shortly. Jeff signals Jordan to go in the road with the wands to stop traffic from going behind the aeroplane, the anti-collision beacons go on, Jeff then asks the crew to release the brakes whilst giving me the 'brakes on' signal (a clenched fist), so I then get my foot on the brake as a precaution even though my parking brake is still on. When Jeff signals me that the aeroplane's brakes are released and we can start pushing (by opening his clenched fist), I release the tug parking brake, put the tug in manual second gear, then ease off the footbrake to start rolling smoothly, then add a little bit of throttle. When the main gear reaches the back of the stand, I start turning a bit looking for the LIMA taxiway centreline, so I can get the tail following that and have the main gear straddle the centreline (from this low down it's hard to see that line as you can tell from the video), so you see me adjusting the turn rate as the line becomes visible to me. I swing the back end around the corner and look for the marking on the road which says TRP 4, as this is where I'm supposed to stop the nose gear. As you can see, with Jeff being a trainer, he gets me to tweak it a bit which puts us a little bit past the exact spot, but so long as the push is smooth and safe and the aeroplane ends up with its nosewheel reasonably close to that TRP and near to the centreline, so it can taxy off okay, then it's a good pushback.

When I've finally got the thing stopped, I put the parking brake on and stick the tug in neutral, then signal Jeff that the brakes are on. He then tells the crew to set their brake and signals me that the aeroplane's brakes are on (there is a light on the nose gear which shows this, but we don't rely on that since it could malfunction). Then he pumps the towbar's wheels down, I then release the parking brake, stick it in reverse and ease back a touch to free up the towbar's pin, Jeff then releases the pin and gives me two taps with it to show it is out and I back off and turn to the side so the crew can see the tug is clear. Whilst all that is happening, Jeff is also supervising the engine starts and checking to see if they are okay. When I stop the tug in line with the engine (not seen on this video) I get out, get the towbar and hook it up to the back of the tug, then I get the chock Jeff has temporarily placed on the nosewheel as a precaution, and I double check he has removed the steering bypass pin and closed the headset access door. Then I drive the tug to the edge of the taxiway where Jeff gives the crew the wave off by holding up the steering bypass pin so they can see its remove before flight streamer. Then I drive over the road onto the nearest ramp using the tug as a shield to protect Jeff from any traffic (which should give way to us since we are coming off a taxiway).

 

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Alan Bradbury

Check out my youtube flight sim videos: Here

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Posted (edited)

I thought I was watching "come fly with me" for a moment. BTW: Ryanair sneakily renamed their Max the 8200. Hopefully no-one ended up in ICU 🙂
 

Edited by Jude Bradley

Jude Bradley
Beech Baron: Uh, Tower, verify you want me to taxi in front of the 747?
ATC: Yeah, it's OK. He's not hungry.

X-Plane 11 and MSFS2020  🙂

System specs: Windows 10  Pro 64-bit, i9-9900KF  Gigabyte Z390 RTX-2070, 32GB RAM  1X 2TB M2 for X-Plane 11,  1x256GB SSD for OS. 1TB drive MSFS2020

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Here it is in MSFS:

zPkug0e.jpg

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Alan Bradbury

Check out my youtube flight sim videos: Here

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Great - and a v interesting video Chock.

But, having seen all the news stories about EGCC, did you actually have any pax on board - or were they all still queuing?

Fortunately I went thro’ EGNX last week - quieter than I have ever seen it.

John R

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, FOD said:

But, having seen all the news stories about EGCC, did you actually have any pax on board - or were they all still queuing?

From what we hear, it's as bad and in lots of cases much worse at other UK airports. Most of the problems at Manchester are a result of not enough Border Force personnel, which slows the process of people getting out to the aeroplane, whereas at a lot of other airports, the staff shortages are more widespread and that leads to delays of all kinds. Most crews I've spoken to say Birmingham, Heathrow and Dublin are a lot worse than Manchester in this respect.

We've seen aeroplanes come in from other countries in the past few weeks where they literally had no bags on them at all, so it's a problem outside the UK too, and not just with ground personnel either. We've had a few flights from BA supposed to be departing Heathrow cancelled and never show up at Manchester because there were not enough crews and some stuff has not departed, and we had a Lufthansa Cargo A320 all loaded up and ready to go the other day, but the crew went out of hours, so it could not go.

That's not to say we are not short staffed at our company either of course, for example, on that Keflavik flight in this video, the two other guys you see, plus me, were the only people working on it, when ideally you should have about five people, but we got it done on time. That Kef 737-Max had (I think) about 140 pax on board and if I remember rightly, there were somewhere around 120 bags on it outbound, and about 150 coming in.

However, as an example of how short-handed we can sometimes be, last night there were only three of us working on a couple of BA A320s which came in at10pm and 10.20pm on adjacent stands 43 and 42. Since there were 159 bags coming off the first one (bulk), and approximately 120 bags coming off the second one (in four ULDs), we had to just chock the other one when it came on stand 42, then carry on working on the first one on 43 before finally getting to the other one. Both aeroplanes were completely unloaded and all the bags tipped by about 10.50pm, meaning the second aeroplane's passengers had their bags 20 mins after arrival on stand (ideally it should be less than 15 minutes), so it wasn't too bad, but that was only because we were working fast. It was also tipping it down with rain at the time, so I was absolutely drenched by the time I went home at 11.30pm. Occasionally there are just two of us working on one of those late-night BA arrivals, but hopefully, since we have a lot of new staff who've just started in the past few weeks, it will get better, although of course it takes time for people to get trained up on stuff.

Edited by Chock

Alan Bradbury

Check out my youtube flight sim videos: Here

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Dublin was a complete joke last week, flew from LEAL to EIDW, and the taxi queue was mental after midnight. I could have walked home quicker except the wife wanted to wait for a taxi. We live less than 2 miles from the airport. Nearly an hour waiting on a taxi on the main road because Dublin airport have a cartel going on taxi permits allowed to pick up passengers.


Jude Bradley
Beech Baron: Uh, Tower, verify you want me to taxi in front of the 747?
ATC: Yeah, it's OK. He's not hungry.

X-Plane 11 and MSFS2020  🙂

System specs: Windows 10  Pro 64-bit, i9-9900KF  Gigabyte Z390 RTX-2070, 32GB RAM  1X 2TB M2 for X-Plane 11,  1x256GB SSD for OS. 1TB drive MSFS2020

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This is great stuff Chock! 

Now every time I see the "airlinerslive" streams from Manchester on Twitch, I'll be thinking "Chock pushed that plane back".  

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