By Andrea Romano
June 08, 2019
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Flight delays can cause huge headaches for travelers and airlines alike.

Beyond weather and other unforeseen issues, delays can also be caused by a slow turnaround, which is just a delay in routine maintenance between flights such as refueling, systems checks, and unloading luggage from cargo.

Having an efficient turnaround not only makes customers happy but also helps airlines save money. According to ABC News, this is why United Airlines is turning to some of the fastest maintenance crews out there to help them with their flight turnover.

NASCAR pit crews are world famous for their breakneck speed and efficiency to make sure cars are running smooth, fast, and safely so drivers can get on their way. According to Nationwide, most crews aim for 11.5 seconds to do a full pit stop before a car needs to get back out on the track. Some times are shorter, especially towards the end of a race.

Of course, it would take far longer to do a similar job with a plane, as well as some different methods of getting everything done, but that doesn’t mean the aviation industry can’t learn from car racing.

However, United Airlines is not just going to hire some pit crews to start refueling planes between flights. Instead, in order to get some training from the experts, according to ABC News, United is sending its ramp service agent team leaders to pit crew training in Mooresville, North Carolina. The first group went to training at the end of May.

This facility trains the fastest crews in the country and helps corporations with efficiency training, like Coca-Cola, as well as other companies in food production, energy, and medicine, according to ABC News. Not only does this training help team leaders and workers with speed, but also with organization. Pit crews aren’t just fast, they’re methodical, even if it does look like chaos to people watching.

During the training, the ramp service team leaders learned to put the pedal to the metal, so to speak, when it comes to routine maintenance, and some team leaders noted the important similarities between the two jobs and their importance.

“[Pit Crews are] all about safety, efficiency, and speed in the box where the car is. Same thing for us,” Joni Teragawachi, director of training design for United, told ABC News.

United also sent ramp service team leaders to this type of training in 2017. Teragawachi told ABC News that back then, the training resulted in an average decrease in turnaround time by seven minutes. “They were saying it was equivalent to four or five additional aircraft in the air, which is huge,” she said.

Airport operations supervisor Kim Papineau told ABC News that the training was challenging as well as educational — and that it related to their real-life issues. “I love how they set us up with a couple of unexpected surprises, like when our equipment wasn't in the right position — that's what happens to us all the time. I'm excited to get home and talk about it,” she said.

According to ABC News, United will be sending all of their ramp service agent team leaders to the training, about 2,000 in total. Soon these flights will be running like a well-oiled machine. But hopefully, no one will be driving around in circles.

Not only will this help with the airline’s bottom line, but it might also actually mean the rest of us will have a delay-free travel experience.

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