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Deboarding an aircraft from the left side has been a long-lasting practice in commercial aviation. But, this changed on Tuesday, perhaps for the first time, as passengers disembarked an IndiGo flight in Delhi from the right side on the front.
IndiGo has worked on a three-door exit formula — two on the left and a front door on the right — to save at least five minutes of turnaround time per flight. For the airline, which operates 1,600 flights day, this will lead to a cascading impact and save a significant amount of time across the network.
“The usual turnaround time...is between 30 and 35 minutes for IndiGo. Using the third ramp is a simple but effective process through which we obtained results of improving turnaround time by an average of five minutes,” said Sanjeev Ramdas, executive vice-president, who heads IndiGo’s airport operations.
The operational manual of Indigo, which counts punctuality as one of its primary selling points, said after an aircraft is parked in a remote stand, all passenger ramps are positioned along the front exit and then the rear one, after which the doors are opened. When there are no passengers left in the aircraft, security check and fuelling are done, after which the aircraft is cleaned for its next flight. Achieving a faster turnaround is critical for low-cost carriers as the business model involves utilising planes for as many hours during the day as possible.
“Think of it like a water flow. The more outlets you have, the faster the water will flow out,” he said.
IndiGo under Ramdas has been using ramps instead of step ladders from Day One, which makes the boarding and deboarding faster. The airline as of now is trying the new process in Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru and will only use this for aircraft arriving at remote parking stands — which are away from the terminal building. Ramdas said he intended to roll out the three-door deboarding process for at least 70 per cent of IndiGo’s flights.
Industry experts who have expertise in ground operations however said that for boarding it will be a more complicated process as the right hand side of the aircraft is used for loading cargo and catering materials and hence will obstruct passenger movement.
Aviation safety expert Captain Amit Singh and founder of NGO, Safety Matters said that the airline will need to ensure that there is sufficient manpower to supervise that passengers don’t wander away on a busy parking ramp. “It is also for safety reasons that passenger movement is kept on one side of the aircraft. The airline will have to ensure that there is enough supervision to check passenger movement on both sides,” he said.
First Published: Thu, August 04 2022. 21:00 IST