How a Firefly plane turns around in Seletar Airport

When Firefly FY3124 from Subang touched down at Seletar Airport on at 8.50am on 7 January 2020, the ground handling staff had to ensure that the plane would be turned around for its next outbound flight within the scheduled 30 minutes. In the course of that day, the airline would handle a total of 11 incoming and outgoing flights, ferrying passengers between Singapore and Subang, Malaysia in about one hour for each flight. 

Situated in the northeast of Singapore, Seletar Airport serves general aviation (such as training, medical evacuation and MRO flights) and business aviation (private jets) users. 

Firefly, which serves the Subang-Singapore route six times daily, uses the ATR-72 turboprop aircraft. This aircraft is a twin-engine turboprop used specifically for short-haul flights. Turboprop planes have a turbine engine that drives an aircraft propeller attached to the wings of the aircraft. 

Changi Journeys went on ground to witness the turnaround process of FY3124 as it landed at Seletar Airport and prepared to depart to Subang. 

 

01 Before the flight arrives 

 

The passenger terminal at Seletar Airport focuses on the concept of a quick and fuss-free clearance process from kerbside to tarmac.

The check-in counters and gate holdroom were all set and ready for the next set of passengers here to board their flight.  

 

02 On standby 

 

Ground handling staff were on standby as FY3124 touched down at Seletar Airport. Being prepared for the next 30 minutes of turnaround was crucial to ensure that all the necessary steps such as cleaning and baggage handling could be completed within the allocated time, and the flight would be ready for take-off as scheduled. 

 

03 Coming to a stop 

 

The aircraft marshaller directed FY3124 towards the parking stand right in front of the passenger terminal. The countdown started - the plane had less than 30 minutes before its next scheduled take-off for Subang Airport. 

 

04 Securing the aircraft 

 

The ground handling staff locked the wheels of the aircraft with a chock before the passengers alighted and the on-ground activities commenced. Two sets of wheel chocks (in yellow) were used to keep the wheels stationary, while turnaround activities were carried out. 

 

05 Welcome to Seletar

 

After a one-hour flight, passengers disembarked the aircraft via the aircraft passenger steps. With the very short distance between the plane and the terminal building, the walk to the gate holdroom took less than a minute. 

 

06 Baggage transfer

 

The ground handling staff got to work to unload the luggage, but only after the passengers have disembarked. Due to the aircraft design, this waiting period was crucial to ensure that the aircraft weight is balanced at the front and the back. 

 

07 Boarding Now  

 

Fifteen minutes after FY3124 landed at Seletar Airport, passengers scheduled on FY3125 to Subang were already boarding the aircraft. The ground handling staff and security officers guided the passengers to follow the designated pathway from the terminal to the aircraft.  

 

08 Ready to fly again 

 

The ground handling staff, who was in communication with the pilot, signaled “North” to the pushback crew so that they knew which direction the aircraft should face during pushback. The tow tug then towed the aircraft to the taxiway, where the latter would proceed to the runway to standby for take-off.

 

09 Time for take-off 

 

After confirmation from the air traffic control tower, the aircraft effortlessly moved into position to prepare for take-off within the next few minutes. 

 

10 Bon Voyage! 

 

FY3125 departed Seletar Airport for Subang Airport on time with its next batch of passengers. 

This would be the day’s second planeload of Firefly passengers who would have made their journey from Singapore to Malaysia in under two hours, making travel to our neighbouring country very quick and convenient.  

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