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Flight Crews: Line of Sight

Vigilance is the best of the best practices when moving baggage. It ensures that flight crewmembers always know what’s being loaded on the aircraft.

Vigilance is typically done by maintaining line-of-sight with the baggage, says Dan Miller, a senior captain and safety officer at Eli Lilly, which operates two Gulfstreams under Part 91.

“We keep track of everything,” explained Miller. This is done so baggage isn’t misplaced or left behind, or some unknown parcel finds its way on board. “We have a captain stationed in the lobby at least 30 minutes before takeoff to ID the passengers and luggage.”

After the baggage is collected, it is then carried to the aircraft by the passengers or one of the pilots, or a maintenance technician if departing from the home base. At an FBO, a line technician usually brings the baggage to the aircraft.

“We appreciate the help of a line service person or a handler, but we won’t release our luggage unsupervised,” said Miller. In addition to traditional baggage, there might be company equipment needed for presentations, such as projectors, he added.

Vigilance also is an important part of baggage handling at Cummins Inc. The company operates three Gulfstreams under Part 91 and an Embraer under Part 125. The Part 125 operation is a weekday shuttle from the company’s home base to multiple manufacturing facilities.

“We appreciate the help of [an FBO’s] line service or a handler, but we won’t release our luggage unsupervised.”

Dan Miller Senior Captain and Safety Officer, Eli Lilly

Before departure, baggage is collected in one area of the FBO’s lobby or home base hangar, where every bag is accounted for. A flight attendant assists with this task on the Part 125 flights. The goal is to always know what’s being loaded on the aircraft and that passengers understand what items are prohibited, explained Mike McWilliams, Cummins safety and training manager.
It’s an ongoing effort, using a combination of signage, internal outreach and guidance from the aircraft’s general operations manual, McWilliams noted. “We communicate through several mediums, but rely heavily on digital signage.”

The digital signs actually are large TV screens installed at strategic locations throughout the company, including the hangar. They display current safety information, along with baggage protocols and references to the FAA’s Travel Safe, Travel Smart campaign.

“We are evaluating a training module that will help ensure our employees know what to expect, especially when it comes to baggage procedures when they fly on our corporate shuttle,” added McWilliams. “For our flights, lithium batteries are prohibited in checked baggage. Improperly used or stored, these batteries can overheat and catch fire. We are diligent in our safety procedures to ensure employees don’t unintentionally bring tools powered by lithium batteries or boxes of machine parts that may have oil residue on them. We brief employees on what not to bring, and this has proven very effective, because we don’t have issues with banned items.”

At Eli Lilly, lithium batteries are permitted if installed in a device and not loose. Passengers also take a cabin safety course. “Our passengers are all well-traveled, know the rules and are known company employees,” Miller said.

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