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Essential skills profile

This profile contains a list of example tasks that illustrate how each of the 9 essential skills is generally performed by most workers in this occupation. The levels of complexity estimated for each task are ranked between 1 (basic) and 5 (advanced).

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Air Transport Ramp Attendants(7534)

Air transport ramp attendants operate ramp-servicing vehicles and equipment, handle cargo and passenger baggage and perform other ground support duties at airports. They are employed by airline and air services companies and the federal government.

Reading Help - Reading
  • Read labels on containers which describe special care for handling. (1)
  • Read memos about airport and airline operations, changes in policy or procedures that might affect the way they do their job, unusual events that have occurred, problems, changes in flights or other information. (2)
  • Read company brochures and bulletins on topics such as the handling of dangerous goods. (2)
  • Rook up procedures and information in manuals, including training, standards and regulations, service, technical and maintenance manuals. (3)
  • Read the International Air Transportation Association Regulations for loading standards. (3)
Document use Help - Document use
  • Read Workplace Hazardous Materials Information Systems (WHMIS) and Dangerous Goods signs and labels as well as other icons and symbols. (1)
  • Complete bag count forms for different types of bags. (1)
  • Read baggage and cargo labels and bills of lading for mail that indicate destinations and flight numbers. These can sometimes be complicated if they have more than one destination. (2)
  • Read load sheets which indicate how much the cargo weighs, where the baggage should be loaded and what the cargo contains, such as dangerous goods or live animals. They also consult loading information for small aircraft to help balance the weight distribution. (2)
  • Read flight schedules and work schedules. (2)
  • Read charts to determine whether they have reached preset key performance indicators. (2)
  • Follow diagrams of how the cargo will be loaded to ensure that it is balanced. Such diagrams are also used to explain techniques to new employees. (2)
  • Recognize different angles in the cargo area when loading cargo and adjust their loading procedures to fit. (2)
  • Fill out various forms, including maintenance forms to record work done on the planes, supply order forms when preparing the plane for flight, forms accompanying dangerous goods cargo and maintenance request forms when a piece of ground service equipment needs repair. (2)
  • Enter data into a computer template which shows how the cargo and baggage were distributed on the aircraft before takeoff. (2)
  • Read schematic drawings of aircraft and related equipment to understand how to do routine maintenance on the aircraft and other equipment. (3)
Writing Help - Writing
  • Write notes to others to inform them of an event, such as the removal of a piece of baggage from an aircraft. (1)
  • Write memos for the next shift about tasks that must be completed. (1)
  • Write in a cabin discrepancy log when equipment needs to be fixed on a plane. (1)
  • Complete various forms. (See Use of Documents.) (2)
  • Write instructions, including diagrams, showing how the cargo should be loaded. (2)
  • Complete cargo load sheets. (2)
  • Write a report when a problem is encountered while loading, refuelling or cleaning a plane to explain any delay that resulted. (2)
Numeracy Help - Numeracy Scheduling, Budgeting & Accounting Math
  • May determine the number of people needed to load or unload a particular plane. (1)
Measurement and Calculation Math
  • Count the number of bags on a plane and the supplies and meals required for each flight. (1)
  • Read gauges that indicate how much water and fuel have been put into the plane. (1)
  • Keep track of the weight and the number of bags being loaded aboard planes because there are weight restrictions that must be followed as well as distribution guidelines. (2)
  • Measure an unusual piece of cargo and an area of the cargo hold and compare the results to determine if the item will fit in a particular space. (2)
  • When the plane's fuel gauge is broken, they must calculate the volume of fuel by measuring with a dipstick and using a formula which considers such factors as pressure and temperature. They then do a series of conversions from litres to gallons to pounds. (3)
Numerical Estimation
  • Estimate the size and weight of baggage when freeloading it onto the plane to distribute the weight and to use space efficiently. (1)
  • Estimate the time it will take to groom a cabin, considering its condition. If there will not be enough time, they decide which tasks can be left out. (2)
Oral communication Help - Oral communication
  • Talk with members of other crews when baggage and cargo must be transferred to another flight. (1)
  • Interact with co-workers when co-ordinating tasks or discussing procedures and activities, such as loading or unloading baggage or de-icing aircraft. Inform co-workers of progress or unexpected conditions. (2)
  • Listen to supervisors at briefings and receive direction from them. (2)
  • Inform the captain about dangerous goods loaded on the flight. (2)
  • Inform the ramp manager of major problems, such as malfunctioning equipment or containers in poor condition. (2)
  • Discuss any changes they want to make with their supervisor, since only the supervisor has the authority to change the distribution of a load. (2)
  • May train and give direction and instruction to new employees or inform less experienced co-workers of their duties. (2)
Thinking Help - Thinking Problem Solving
  • When outside access to the lavatory is frozen, air transport ramp attendants check the valve to see if the problem is mechanical, notify maintenance and assist the mechanics. (1)
  • When an unexpected load of cargo arrives with an aircraft, air transport ramp attendants figure out how to unload the cargo in the limited time available. (2)
  • When poor weather conditions cause delays and extra work, air transport ramp attendants determine how to do the work as quickly as possible under those circumstances. (2)
  • When cargo has been packed into the wrong container, for example in a wide body container instead of a narrow body container, air transport ramp attendants resolve the problem by repacking the cargo into an appropriate container or leaving it for another flight, depending on the time available, the impact on the weight and balance of the load and the content of the cargo. (2)
  • When two or more airplanes require servicing at the same time, the air transport ramp attendants co-ordinate their work to get the aircraft ready on time. (3)
  • When air and ground equipment malfunction, air transport ramp attendants troubleshoot the cause and inform appropriate staff of the problem. (3)
Decision Making
  • Decide where to fit last-minute baggage and, if there is too much baggage, what will be sent on a later flight. (1)
  • Decide what tasks to do and what to leave out when short of time grooming a cabin during a turnaround. (2)
  • Decide which flight to unload or service first, when several require servicing at the same time. (2)
  • Decide when cargo, if damaged or loaded into a faulty container, cannot be loaded onto a flight. (3)
  • May, if they are lead ramp attendants, make decisions involving changes in the load sheet, deciding where to load baggage and cargo in the aircraft. These decisions affect the weight and balance of the aircraft and have an impact on safety. They are made under significant time pressure. (3)
Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking information was not collected for this profile.

Job Task Planning and Organizing

Air transport ramp attendants perform similar tasks repeatedly but with some variation between repetitions, depending on circumstances. These variations necessitate planning the particular task and co-ordinating with co-workers. Variations arise from problems such as particularly dirty cabins, complications in loading cargo or planes arriving and requiring servicing at the same time. (2)

Significant Use of Memory
  • Remember the instructions from their supervisor on how to load cargo for each flight.
  • Remember the times of flights they are responsible for and any special details, such as the presence of dangerous or valuable goods.
  • Remember airport codes and hand signals, and procedures relating to safety, operations and baggage handling.
Finding Information
  • Obtain information from supervisors or co-workers about loading cargo onto a flight. (1)
  • Obtain information from computer systems, such as flight sheets, trip sheets for each flight, work crew schedules and procedures. (1)
  • Obtain information from the load desk operator about aircraft arrivals and departures and obtain information on cargo by reading loading cards. (1)
  • Consult diagrams of cargo areas for different aircraft to reference loading codes. (2)
  • May refer to manuals about dangerous goods for information on their proper loading and handling. (2)
Digital technology Help - Digital technology
  • They locate information about particular flights. (2)
  • They send messages concerning late baggage. (2)
  • Use other computer applications. For example, they use specialized industry software which assists in managing loading systems. (2)
Additional information Help - Additional information Other Essential Skills:

Working with Others

Air transport ramp attendants work as members of a team involved in loading, unloading, cleaning and preparing aircraft. They often work independently, such as when they are completing load sheets, doing maintenance and fuel checks and transporting baggage. They may also work with a partner or helper, when handling baggage or cleaning and restocking the aircraft for departure.

Continuous Learning

Employers often require air transport ramp attendants to take a Workplace Hazardous Materials Information Systems (WHMIS) course, dangerous goods and first aid training. Air transport ramp attendants may also take training courses on performing certain tasks, such as transport operation, the fuelling process or aircraft grooming procedures.

When a new airplane is purchased, employers require air transport ramp attendants to take a course on how to maintain the aircraft.

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