Ground Safety Affects Us All

Remaining keenly aware of the potential danger in our everyday workplace takes not just focus, but training and procedures in best practices.


The use of warning cones at wing tips and tail to avoid wing overlap hazards are considered preventative best practices. Confirm with the pilot that the brakes are off before beginning to tow the airplane. A trained person in the cockpit as a brake monitor for heavy aircraft is recommended. If you are not familiar with the aircraft type, and have not been properly trained, do not attempt to move the aircraft, leave the aircraft where it is and seek out someone who is familiar before towing.

Getting around

Many operations use golf carts for getting around the ramp areas quickly. Although you may think it safe, injuries and a fatality have happened with golf carts. You can enhance your safety as well as those around you by always placing the vehicle in neutral or park, turning off the ignition, and setting the parking brake when leaving the golf cart (or any piece of equipment) unattended, even for a minute … every time.

Any of us working at the maintenance facility may occasionally be asked to drive on the ramp. Be sure you have completed a driver’s education course for your airport if your job includes operating a vehicle in ramp areas. Be sure to check the requirements and regulations at your airport.

Five-second rule

One way to check yourself and your situational awareness of danger and risk is to learn to use the five-second rule. The rule: Before you begin any task, ask yourself what harm or damage could result from your actions. This is yet another great self-assessment tool that does not cost time or money but pays priceless benefits.

Today more than ever security of aircraft and access to keys both on the ramp and in maintenance facilities are significant pieces of mitigating risk. Many employees in maintenance facilities know their customers but it is a good practice to be aware of out of the ordinary behavior and unusual questions from anyone.

All of the above can be culminated in an integrated and comprehensive safety program for the entire organization. It may not be possible to eliminate all risk as it is inherent in what we do, and the tools and equipment we use to do it, but documenting procedures establishes expectations and sets standards for operational behavior. Furthermore it provides a framework with which to measure accountability and strive for continued improvement.

Remaining safe on the ground is everyone’s responsibility.


DeborahAnn Cavalcante earned her Masters in Aeronautical Science, with a specialization in Safety Management from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona, FL, and her Bachelor of Science from VA Tech in Business and Risk Management.

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