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Video - These strange gestures that guide aircraft on the ground...

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A commercial or military aircraft cannot be parked like a car because from their cockpits pilots cannot see the ground markings, or verify whether their plane is properly lined up so that they can shut down their engines. On the ground, one person, the marshaller serves as a guide.

Armed with two handheld illuminated beacons, or marshalling wands as they are called, he guides the aircraft by using specific signals to its parking stand, or to the runway.

Laurent Boyer, marshaller: watch the interview in the video.

And once the plane is stationary, the marshaller raises his fist to tell the pilot that he can apply the parking brakes. This action allows the chocks to be put in place, together with the passenger boarding bridge or gangway, and securing of the plane. The job of the marshaller is essential, but tending to become more and more automated, especially at major airports.

Laurent Boyer, marshaller: watch the interview in the video.

Despite these innovations, the marshaller remains the norm in the vast majority of airports, and down on the tarmac, the strange robotic movements of these human GPS’s is not about to disappear.

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