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Aircraft Marshaller Keeps Planes Rolling in and out of UPS’s Busiest Hub

aircraft taxiRunning a successful airline means running a safe airline. Thousands of people around the world help ensure that UPS Airlines’ enviable safety record stays that way. One of those people is aircraft marshaller Rich McCoun.

The veteran marshaller works at the company’s all-points international air hub, Worldport, in Louisville, Ky. The massive hub has its own aircraft docking wings and handles some 226 in and outbound flights a day.

The middle school baseball coach and father of three has been with UPS for 25 years. His job is to make sure his planes are safely and efficiently directed to and from where they need to be.

Q: What exactly does an aircraft marshaller do?

A: We direct the aircraft as it taxis to or from its designated docking area, whether that’s a building wing or just an open parking lot. We use wands to relay signals and guide the pilots. UPS uses signals that come from the International Air Transport Association.

Q: What are some of the challenges to your job?

A: I’m responsible for getting the aircraft safely to its parking space or safely out of its parking space if it’s an outbound flight. Some of these planes have wing spans and jet blasts over 200 feet. As marshallers, we have to make sure that the surrounding area is clear. Plus, these planes are worth millions and that’s not including the cargo they’re carrying. It’s a lot of responsibility and safety is always our first priority.

Q: What makes a good aircraft marshaller?

A: A dedication to safety and comfort around the operation. I now work during the day in UPS’s Second Day Air operation, so it’s not very chaotic. But I worked the nightly Next Day Air operation for 18 years. At night, it’s controlled chaos. There are lots of people, vehicles and about 120 planes coming in. Plus, it’s dark, so you have to be confident in what you’re doing. I think the pilots can sense a difference.

Q:  Do you remember that part in the movie Airplane! when the marshaller accidentally directs a 747 into the terminal? That couldn’t really happen, could it?

A:  No.

Q: Moving on, so what’s the best part of your job?

A:  I like doing something that’s important to the company and I like the freedom of working outside in a job that’s not repetitive.

Category: Business Insights
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    Comments [2]

  1. It is necessary that pilot should focur on marshaller

  2. I’m a marshaller myself, and each airport has its own set
    of procedures, rules etc. For example, the guy in the
    video besides marshalling that MD11, he’s also a tug
    driver. At the airport where I’m working, I marshall and
    assign parking stands/gates for aircrafts based on the
    aircraft type, model, and series.

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