Did you know that it takes the coordination of dozens of United crew members to get each flight in the air safely and on time every day? Many of these professionals aren’t easy to spot from your window seat, but they work around the clock performing critical jobs to ensure every flight goes right. This month, we’re highlighting one of these groups that you may notice crisscrossing the tarmac: the Move Team.
What is the Move Team?
The Move Team is responsible for towing aircraft and coordinating their movements between maintenance areas, temporary parking, and gates, among other locations around the tarmac at our U.S. hub airports. With their help, we’re able to operate more flights safely and on time.
How does the Move Team make a difference at United?
The Move Team’s specialized SuperTug tractors make aircraft movements much more efficient, helping us maximize gate availability and maintenance resources. “Before the Move Teams existed, it took the coordination of four departments to move one aircraft,” says Oscar G. Peña, Move Team manager at Los Angeles International Airport. Now it takes only two Move Team professionals, working with other airport operations teams, to accomplish the same task. Using the tractors also helps save millions of gallons of fuel per year, since aircraft would otherwise engage their onboard generators (known as the auxiliary power unit, or APU) to move around on the ground.
What does it take to join the Move Team?
The skill and expertise required of the Move Team isn’t limited to towing procedures; these employees need to learn the ins and outs of each aircraft, the traffic patterns of the airport, and much more. “Each member of the team undergoes nine weeks of training before being able to move an aircraft,” says Joe Diesi, assistant manager of the Move Team at Chicago O’Hare. “Each member is not only trained in towing aircraft, but also on starting and shutting down aircraft APUs, docking and undocking jet bridges, and other duties related to Ramp Service.”
What’s the best part about working on the Move Team?
The thrill of towing aircraft weighing hundreds of thousands of pounds is definitely a plus, but it’s the Move Team’s strong sense of camaraderie that keeps them moving on the job.
“We are a close-knit group, and we all work well together, regardless of title or job function,” Diesi says. “Thanks to United Airlines’ trust in me, I am able to lead an elite team of employees that I had the opportunity to build from the ground up.”
“After 30 years at United, this has been by far the most gratifying job I’ve had,” Peña adds. “The challenge of putting together a team while building a new workflow is an experience that helps to create a bond, knowing we are doing something special.”
Keep an eye out for the Move Team and the SuperTugs on the tarmac the next time you visit one of our hub airports.