Review and/or Revision of Aircraft Towing/Ground Handling Procedures for the Safety of the Wing and/or Tail Walkers.
IFA Comment: This FAA SAFO is aimed at airport workers but it is equally applicable to everyone who works around an aircraft in operations. A reminder that people need to remain clear of operating engines until they are shut down, is a universal reminder. There have been too many fatalities around live engines.
Purpose: This SAFO informs aircraft operators under Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) Parts 91, 91 subpart K (Part 91K), 121, 125, 129, and 135 about the importance of personnel remaining clear of an aircraft in tow until after it has come to a complete stop and chocks are installed. This SAFO also informs aircraft operators about marshalling of aircraft. This SAFO also recommends those operators review their procedures to ensure they include information regarding these topics. This information is applicable to all operators under 14 CFR that either tow aircraft or have procedures for towing, ground handling, servicing or marshalling aircraft.
Background: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is aware of multiple events where injuries or fatal injuries have occurred during aircraft towing or ground handling operations.
- In one event, a wing walker sustained serious injury when an aircraft in tow was being repositioned. While the tow driver was moving the aircraft back to correct the aircraft position, the wing walker was removing the main landing gear safety pins. This led to the wing walker being struck by the trailing edge flaps of the aircraft being towed. As a result, the wing walker was run over by the aircraft’s #3 and #4 main landing gear wheels.
- In another event, a ramp agent was fatally injured when the ramp agent approached the aircraft while the #1 engine was still running. The flight was operated with an inoperative auxiliary power unit and the aircraft arrived at the gate with the #1 engine running for the required two-minute engine cool down. After stopping the aircraft and setting the parking brake, the captain gave the hand signal to connect the airplane to ground power. However, one ramp agent had already proceeded to open the forward cargo bay resulting in the fatal engine ingestion accident.
While both of these incidents have not been proven to be a systemic issue, the severity of outcome warrants this safety reminder.